By Vu Quoc Ngu, July 9, 2016
On July 9, police forces in Vietnam’s central province of Nghe An allegedly assaulted a group of eight activists from Quang Binh when they came to the province to attend a wedding party of a local pro-democracy activist.
Arriving in Nghe An for the wedding party of Nguyen Hai, the group consisting of five male and three female activists led by Nguyen Trung Truc and Mai Van Tam were kidnapped, beaten and robbed by plainclothes agents. Hai and the attacked activists are member of the pro-democracy group Brotherhood of Democracy which was established by human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai who was arrested on December 16 last year.
The attackers detained the visiting activists, taking all their wallets, cell phones and documents and beating them. They took off their clothes and left them in a remote area between Nghe An and the neighbor province Ha Tinh.
Eight activists suffered from severe injuries and were taken by local Catholic parishioners to a hospital for urgent treatment.
Meanwhile, former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Viet Dung, founder and president of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam, was deported by police in Ho Chi Minh City to his home town of Nghe An. The city police detained him, beating him and later taking him to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport where they forced him to take a domestic flight to Vinh, where local police officers awaited and detain him to a car where they beat and interrogated Dung. They threatened to be tougher against him next time.
Last month, police in HCMC also detained Dung, beating and interrogating him before deporting him to Nghe An. In Nghe An, Dung was also held by local police officers who interrogated and tortured him, and released him several days later.
Vietnam’s security forces have intensified their persecution against local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders amid increasing social dissatisfaction with the government’s response to the environmental disaster in the central coastal region, worsening human rights situation and the government’s weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).
On July 7, police in the central coastal province of Quang Binh used tear gas to suppress a demonstration of around 2,000 Catholic followers in Con Se parish, injuring many people. Some protestors also fought back by throwing stones and bricks at the police. The demonstrators demanded the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group to remove its Hung Nghiep Formosa steel plant in the central province of Ha Tinh after it admitted discharging huge volume of toxic waste into Vietnam’s sea water and caused the massive death of marine species in the 250-km coastline from Ha Tinh to Thua Thien-Hue.
Vietnamese activists and environmentalists have disagreed with the government’s settlement of the environmental disaster caused by Formosa in the central coastal region, saying the $500 million compensation from Formosa is not enough for environment cleaning and supporting the affected people, including fishermen, salt farmers and tourism-related businesses in the region.
Recently, Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General To Lam, who is also Politburo member of the ruling communist party, threatens to use tougher measures to prevent spontaneous demonstrations. However, Vietnamese activists in many localities have conducted peaceful demonstrations to demand permanent suspension of the Ha Tinh province-based Formosa steel plant and request the Taiwanese company to clean the marine environment in the central region and fully compensate the affected people.