Police in northern Vietnam’s Ha Nam province assaulted a 70-year-old land-rights victim on Sunday, leaving him with bruises and a broken rib, after he returned from a group visit to political prisoners in a local jail, the elderly activist said.
Speaking on June 17 with RFA’s Vietnamese Service, Truong Minh Huong said he was attacked at around 1:00 p.m. on Sunday after leaving his friends at a restaurant following their visit to the province’s Nam Ha Detention Center.
“After our visit, we had a meal to express our affection for each other and to share our stories about prisoners of conscience, and we noticed that security officers were sitting in a nearby corner, drinking sugarcane juice.”
Huong then got onto his motorbike and headed home before the rest, “and when I was almost home I saw four men chasing me, and when I stopped they just crashed their bikes into mine,” he said.
“They used their helmets to attack my face, and they hit me over and over again.” Huong said, adding that following the assault he made a phone call to his friends, who arrived and took him safely home.
“My head and chest are swollen, and when I went to the hospital this morning, they confirmed that I have a broken rib,” Huong said.
Vaguely worded laws
On Sunday, family members and friends joined by Huong had gone to see seven prisoners of conscience held at Nam Ha: Le Dinh Luong, Le Thanh Thung, Vu Quang Thuan, Pham Van Troi, Ho Duc Hoa, Phan Kim Khanh, and Nguyen Viet Dung.
All are serving prison sentences ranging from four to 20 years following their conviction on charges of spreading “propaganda against the state” or carrying out activities “aimed at overthrowing the people’s government” under vaguely worded laws aimed at silencing dissent in the one-party communist state.
Four of those held—Le Dinh Luong, Le Thanh Tung, Nguyen Viet Dung, and Pham Kim Khanh—had recently been disciplined for their connection to a prisoners’ letter-writing campaign calling for the right to send letters and make phone calls to family members and to receive supplies of food, sources said.
Vietnam now holds an estimated 128 prisoners of conscience, according to a May 13, 2019 report by rights group Amnesty International.
“The Vietnamese authorities portray individuals who are peacefully exercising their human rights as criminals,” Amnesty International (AI) said in its report, Prisoners of Conscience in Vietnam.
“However, it is the government that flagrantly contravenes international human rights law and its own constitution,” AI said.
Nguyen Kim Binh of Vietnam Human Rights Network said in December that the one-party communist state is currently detaining more than 200 political prisoners.