February 25, 2020
Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger
Human Rights Council
Re: Request to investigate the gross human rights violations in Dong Tam, Vietnam
We, the undersigned human rights organizations, write to draw your attention to the recent crackdown in Dong Tam near Hanoi.
On January 9, Vietnamese authorities reportedly mobilised 3,000 riot police to raid Hoanh Hamlet, Dong Tam Commune, killing 84-year-old community leader Le Dinh Kinh and arresting at least 27 residents (names included below). This occurred in the context of a prolonged land dispute in which the Hanoi municipal authorities tried to seize valuable land for redevelopment—threatening the livelihood and displacement of nearly 10,000 long-time residents.
Prior to the attack, police locked down the whole area and suspended phone and internet service. Independent journalists and international media outlets were banned from travelling to Dong Tam to report on the attack. Trinh Ba Phuong, a citizen journalist, based 25 miles away in Hanoi, was detained and put under house arrest for broadcasting a livestream on Facebook, reporting on the events as riot police stormed Dong Tam.
Since then, both Trinh Ba Phuong and his brother Trinh Ba Tu, as well as a number of other activists, continue to be harassed and threatened with arrest for trying to shed further light onto the police action. Vietnamese authorities pressured Facebook to remove content about Dong Tam and government trolls have targeted the accounts of human rights activists.
A month after the attack, at least 27 residents are still being held incommunicado and their well-being is unknown. They are all barred from legal access. Under the pretext of blocking “terrorist financing”, the Ministry of Public Security ordered Vietcombank to freeze the bank account to which hundreds of individuals donated money to support Le Dinh Kinh’s family with funeral expenses. The holder of the account, social activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh, has not been able to withdraw 528 million Vietnamese dong ($23,000 USD).
This appalling police brutality in Dong Tam and the repression following reveals the escalation of human rights abuse in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government continues to show complete disregard for international conventions including the UN Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Therefore, we urgently call on you and the UN Human Rights Council to:
- Arrange for a Special Rapporteur to investigate the Dong Tam incident and provide recommendations on holding any officials responsible for gross human rights abuses accountable.
- Urge the Vietnamese government to release all individuals arbitrarily detained during the police raid on Dong Tam on January 9th and to cease all forms of retaliation against the residents of Dong Tam and their supporters
- Insist that the Vietnamese government allow independent media organisations and civil society to freely travel to Dong Tam and speak with local residents without fear of retribution
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) France
Nguyen Le Hung
Bau Bi Tuong Than Association
Nguyen Van Dai
Brotherhood For Democracy
Vu Manh Hung
Chu Van An Educational Profession Association
Nguyen Tuong Thuy
Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam
Liberal Publishing House
Reverend Anthony Dang Huu Nam
My Khanh Parish, Vinh Diocese
Reporters Without Borders
Reverend JB Nguyen Dinh Thuc
Song Ngoc Parish, Vinh Diocese
Swiss-Vietnam Committee (COSUNAM)
Do Hoang Diem
Duong Thi Phuong Hang
Vietnamese Journalists Union
Trinh Thi Ngoc Kim
Vietnamese Students Union
List of those who were arrested during the Dong Tam incident:
|Lê Đình Công||55||Son of Lê Đình Kình|
|Lê Đình Chức||40||Son of Lê Đình Kình, has 3 young children, including a 10 days old baby|
|Lê Đình Doanh||34||Grandson of Lê Đình Kình|
|Lê Đình Uy||31||Grandson of Lê Đình Kình|
|Lê Đình Quang||37||Nephew of Lê Đình Kình|
|Trần Thị Phương||40||Has three children with Bùi Văn Tiến, born 2007, 2013, and a baby 18 months old.|
|Trần Thị La||42||Single mother|
|Mai Thị Phần||55|
|Nguyễn Thị Dung||57|
|Nguyễn Văn Điều||64|
|Bùi Viết Tiến||17|
|Bùi Văn Tuấn||40|
|Bùi Viết Hiểu||74|
|Nguyễn Quốc Tiến||40||Has 3 children with Đào Thị Kim, born in 2004, 2007, and 2013|
|Đào Thị Kim||38|
|Nguyễn Văn Quân||40||Single father with 3 young children|
|Nguyễn Thị Bét||58|
|Nguyễn Thị Đục||55|
|Nguyễn Văn Tuyển||48|
|Nguyễn Văn Niên||40|
|Nguyễn Thị Lụa||53|
|Lê Đình Quân||44|
|Trịnh Văn Hải||40|
|Bùi Thị Nối||56|
|Bùi Văn Tiến||41|
|Nguyễn Văn Duệ||52|
|Lê Đình Hiển||32||Has two young children, is about to give birth to a third child|
A PDF of the letter can be downloaded here.