Vice President of Vietnam Independent Journalists Summoned for Petition against Police Torture

By Vu Quoc Ngu, August 17, 2016

Authorities in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have summoned blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy, vice president of unsanctioned Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) to a police agency to work on a petition against police torture.

According to a letter signed by police officer Ngo Quang Du from the Security Investigation Agency under the Hanoi Police Department, Mr. Thuy, who is member of the Bau Bi Tuong Than (People’s Solidarity) must be present at the agency at 9 AM of August 18 to “be interrogated on drafting and disseminating the petition”.

One year ago, 19 independent civil society organizations jointly issued an open letter sent to the Minister of Public Security to demand for thorough investigation of police abuse which caused the deaths of hundreds of detainees in police’s custody and of barbaric assaults of numerous political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders.

According to the copy disseminated in social networks, Mr. Thuy, on behalf of the Bau Bi Tuong Than, signed in the petition which was sent to the minister as well as Vietnam’s public and international human rights organizations.

The letter was sent after the severe attacks of plainclothes agents against Hanoi-based blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen and Ho Chi Minh City-based activist Dinh Quang Tuyen.

Instead of launching investigation on controversial deaths of hundreds of detainees in police detention facilities and the attacks against local activists to bring the perpetrators to justice, Vietnam’s authorities have harassed those who signed in the petition or sent it to the ministry.

Since February, Hanoi police has continuously persecuted Ngo Duy Quyen, a local activist who printed the petition and sent it to then Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang, who was promoted by the ruling communist party to the country’s president in April.

Mr. Quyen, who is also member of the Bau Bi Tuong Than, was detained several times and brought to the by the Security Investigation Agency for interrogation for hours. Police also searched his private residence and took a number of personal items, including laptops, cell phones, and book and money. The agency still keeps these items as well as money despite strong protest from the activist.

In addition to use controversial articles such as 79, 88, 245 and 258 in the country’s Penal Code to silence local dissent, the communist government of Vietnam has also deployed plainclothes agents to beat local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders. In the first seven months of this year, dozens of activists have been severely assaulted by thugs in 18 cases, according to the statistics of Defend the Defenders.

Meanwhile, police torture is a thorny issue in Vietnam. According to the Ministry of Public Security, 226 detainees and suspects died in police custody in the period between October 2010 and September 2014, and police said most of their deaths were caused by illness and suicides while the families of the victims and social networks said their deaths were caused by police power abuse.

Tens of people have been killed or severely injured in police’s custody so far this year, according to the state media.

Vice President of Vietnam Independent Journalists Summoned for Petition against Police Torture