WFHR Urgent Submission to CSW
Bui Thi Minh Hang
Human Right Defender
Dear members of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women,
On February 11th, 2014, six human rights defenders along with fifteen of Hoa Hao Buddhist followers were assaulted and arrested while they were on their way to visit Mrs. Bui Thi Kim Phuong. Mrs. Phuong, the wife of former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Bac Truyen, currently resides in Hung Nhon hamlet, Long Hung Commune, Lap Vo district, Dong Thap province. She is also a Hoa Hao Buddhist follower.
The reason for this visit was because the group learned that on February 9th, 2014, police from Dong Thap province vandalized Mrs. Phuong’s home and slandered Hoa Hao Faith by shattering the picture of Hoa Hao Buddhist Prophet Huynh Phu So onto the ground. Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen and Mrs. Phuong were arrested following this attack. When they got into Dong Thap province’s territory, they were ambushed and stripped off of all personal belongings by hundreds of police personnel. Then, they were handcuffed and transported to Lap Vo district’s police headquarter. After almost forty hours of detention and interrogation, eighteen people were released on February, 12th, 2014. Three people still jailed by Dong Thap’s police are human rights activists Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, and a Hoa Hao Buddhist follower Nguyen Van Minh. They are being charged for “disturbing public peace,” and “obstruction of justice.”
All three detainees are on hunger strike to protest police’s violation of their rights
Ms. Bui and Ms. Nguyen have been on their hunger strike for 32 days since their arrests on February 11th, 2014 until today. Mr. Nguyen Van Minh has been on a hunger strike for over ten days. Information about their hunger strikes was given to the families by the detention officers at An Binh prison.
Detainees have not been allowed to see their legal representatives
After her arrest, Ms. Bui’s family contacted Attorney Tran Thu Nam from Tin Viet Law Office in Hanoi to inform him of her situation. Because prior to this arrest, Ms. Bui has started a standing contract with Tin Viet Law Office to be her legal representation. On the day of her arrest, February, 11th 2014, Ms. Bui also demanded that her lawyer should be present before she would answer any question from the police. This fact was confirmed by Mr. Vo Van Thanh Liem, A Hoa Hao Buddhist monk and former conscience prisoner and many other people who were arrested with her. Attorney Tran had sent formal notice to Lap Vo district’s police to inform them that he would be Ms. Bui’s legal representation. On March 3rd, 2014, Lap Vo district’s police officially refused Mr. Tran’s role as Ms. Bui’s lawyer. They cited that “Ms. Bui disallowed her family to ask for legal representation.” On March 10th, 2014, Attorney Tran came to Lap Vo’s police to file for proceeding so that he could represent Ms. Bui as according to their standing contract; and he was not permitted to see her.
In addition, Nguyen Van Minh’s family requested Attorney Nguyen Van Mieng from Hong Duc Law Office in Ho Chi Minh City to protect his legal rights. Mr. Nguyen’s wife, Bui Thi Diem Thuy also sent a letter to request legal representation to Mr. Nguyen through Lap Vo’s police, however, there has been no confirmation of the letter been delivered to Mr. Nguyen.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh’s family has not attempted to visit her nor seek legal representative to protect Quynh’s legal rights despite our recommendations.
Ms. Bui and Mr. Nguyen have not been allowed to see their families since their arrests. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh saw her family once on February 16th, 2014. According to her family, police came to their house to request a visit from them for Ms. Nguyen. The police also promised Quynh’s family that they will release Quynh if she testifies in court stating that Bui Thi Minh Hang was the mastermind behind the accused crimes. Quynh refused to testify as being told.
The police continues to harass and implicate fabricated testimonies onto other victims
Fifteen of the eighteen people released on February 12th, 2014 received subpoenas from police. On March 9th, 2014, they met with Attorneys Tran Thu Nam and Nguyen Van Mieng for legal guidance. On the morning of March 10th, 2014, the following individuals: To Van Manh, Phan Duc Phuoc, Nguyen Vu Tam, Do Thi Thuy Trang, and Bui Thi Diem Thuy came to Lap Vo district’s police station as summoned. During this session, all five of these individuals affirmed that: “their party of twenty-one people were stopped, and brutally ambushed while they were moving about in traffic. Hundreds of police in both plain clothes and uniforms violently beat them with bamboo sticks, batons. The police confiscated personal belongings including electronic tablets, cellular phones, money, and identifications without filing a report. None of them violated disturbance of the public peace and obstruction of justice as accused on Dong Thap province’s TV segment. They were all victims of an ambush by police forces from Lap Vo district and Dong Thap province with directions came from Nguyen Minh Thuan, Dong Thap’s police chief. Investigators really forced all other witnesses to testify against Ms. Bui. The police falsely wrote in their reports that Ms. Hang was the mastermind behind the “criminal acts”; therefore all of these five witnesses refused to sign on their reports.
Previously on August 1, 2013, the Commissioner for Human Rights of Vietnamese Canadian Federation had submitted the status of Bui Thi Minh Hang and Nguyen Phuong Uyen upon the “Women in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. However, it has passed the three months (90 days) period and the government of Vietnam still have not responded to the UN Commissioner concerning the status submission of these mentioned women, especially Ms. Bui is currently imprisoned unlawfully.
Act Now: We hereby respectfully implore for your support in helping Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, a Vietnamese human rights defender. She has been continuously tortured both physically and mentally by the Vietnamese government authorities for her work of defending the rights of Vietnam’s citizens, including land grab’s victims. Please call upon the international human rights organizations and the world governments to raise their voices and intervene for the purpose of seeking humanitarian and protecting the persecuted human rights advocate.
Enclosed is the previous submission presented by the Commissioner for Human Rights Vietnamese Canadian Federation.