Viet Tan Press Release – Human Rights Lawyers Arrested

March 8, 2007

Human Rights Lawyers Arrested – Vietnamese Communist Authority Continues Their Crackdown Campaign

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At 10:30am, March 6, 2007, fifteen Security Police arrived at Attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan’s house and arrested her. She was initially taken to the local police station but later escorted away to an unknown destination and her whereabouts is currently not known. Attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan, 28, is a founding member and spokeswoman for the Viet Nam Progression Party.

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At the same time, Security Police also barred Attorney Nguyen Van Dai while he was on the road. They took him home, arrested him and ushered him away in front of his wife. He is currently being imprisoned at Room 17-19, Prison 1, Hanoi Police, Cau Dien. Attorney Nguyen Van Dai, 38, is a founder of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam and has been outspoken on issues of human rights and democracy oppressions. He defended many religious and human rights violations’ cases. Dai was one of the eight writers who recently won the prestigious 2007 Hellman/Hammett Prize from Human Rights Watch.

Before that, Attorneys Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan were arrested a month ago at Dai’s office and have since been under constant harassments. The Vietnamese authorities have threatened numerous times to provoke Dai and Nhan’s attorney licenses. The Police was also later put Dai on a public trial accusing him of being a “reactionary element”; but both have dismissed the Vietnamese Security Police’s accusations of inciting “hostile propaganda” against the authority.

They were told that they will be held in pretrial custody for four months and will be prosecuted for violation of Article 88 under the Vietnam Criminal Code. However based on this Code, police only allows holding them for up to three days. Both Dai and Nhan’s families are deeply concerned for their safety.

These escalations of persecutions followed the recent raid and arrest of Father Nguyen Van Ly from his home at Hue Archdiocese. Father Ly has been under house arrest since Feb 19, 2007 and also accused of similar charges. In November last year, while under international pressure and in making concessions to gain accession to WTO and PNTR approval, Hanoi announced that it will remove the Administrative Detention Decree 31/CP which has been used to detain dissidents up to two years without trial. After achieving their goals, the Vietnamese Authorities now turns around starting to use it again on Father Nguyen Van Ly.

These above cases typified the current inappropriate use of laws in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Communist Regime will not hesitate to violate the laws if it can potentially affect their financial interests or may challenge their dictatorial rule. No Vietnamese citizen will ever be safe under the Vietnamese Communist Rule of Laws. Viet Tan condemns these human rights violations and calls on international community to support the Global Campaign To Support Democracy Activists and to cease all forms of persecutions in Vietnam.

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Contact:
Angelina Do
media@viettan.org

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