August 28, 2015
Saigon, Vietnam – Vietnamese prisoner of conscience Tran Minh Nhat was released after four years in prison on August 28, 2015 and returned home to begin his three years of house arrest. Many of his family and friends came to welcome him home, including various former prisoners of conscience. Everyone came to celebrate his release. The morning after on, we departed to go home. As we were heading to the car at nine o’clock, we saw many security police who were following us. We split into two groups, the first group had three people and one child who were returning to Saigon. The second group had nine people who were returning to Da Lat.
Half an hour after we departed, a few plain-clothed youth suddenly opened the door of the car and attacked Le Dinh Luong and two young newlyweds. They were insulting him while attacking him. They called Luong a “money snatcher” and the young wife “slut” while beating them mercilessly. Bich Hanh, a female teacher was a witness described the continuous beating like the sound of heavy rain on the rooftop. Amongst the prisoners of conscience, no one was surprised about these tactics, the attackers were paid by the police and some were even police in plainclothes. The attackers targeted the head, stomach and ribs to try to inflict serious injury. In this group, Luong had the most severe injuries, his face was heavily bruised and his mouth was bleeding. The young pregnant woman was hit in the stomach and relatives have sent her to be examined.
The “strangers” began to attack the car of the second group about fifteen minutes after the first group. These “strangers” started to occupy the car on Nghia Lam Road, Duc Trong District, Lam Dong Province. They broke into the car and began to attack Tran Thi Nga while insulting her with obscenities calling her a fleeing money snatcher. After that, they dragged Truong Minh Tam out of the bus to assault him. Lastly, Chu Manh Son was pinned down to the floor when two or three people started to heavily assault him. At that moment, there was an old lady on the bus screaming, asking them to stop attacking them. The incident only lasted for two minutes but it was very violent. Nga and Son crawled back onto the bus in a state of pain and Son’s neck was hurt and covered in blood. Everyone gathered together to take care of the injuries and take photos as evidence of the incident. It took five minutes to find Tam who was hiding in the bush in fear. Tam’s face was swollen and covered in bruises, his clothes were covered in dirt as he was pushed to the ground and beaten. The victims’ properties including tablets and smartphones were smashed and books were ripped and thrown out.
This attack occurred when there have been human rights gatherings in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, however the more worrisome issue is the brutality of the attack.
We believe the reason we were attacked was because we have continued to use the media (email, Facebook etc) to bring news about the releases and reunions of the prisoners of conscience (there were five people who were released in August 2015). On the other hand, targeting certain groups to attack showed that they were given orders from higher ranks and this was planned (approximately thirty people had been involved in this attack on us).
We hope the various foreign embassies in Vietnam and various human rights organisations take particular attention to this incident, not only because of the brutality of the incident but also because this is occurring at a time when Vietnam is seeking to prove their improvements in the area of human rights as well as their efforts to be a part of the international community (United Nations Human Rights Council, Trans Pacific Partnership and the Convention Against Torture etc).
Your attention to these cases will motivate activists and former prisoners of conscience to continue speaking up and defend the universal values of humankind.
For more information, Pham Minh Hoang can be contacted at: pmhoang.bk @ gmail.com