Urgent Special Rapporteur

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Mr Frank La Rue

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Mr Juan Méndez

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

March 18, 2014

Letter of Urgent Allegation concerning the detention of Human Rights Advocate Bui Thi Minh Hang, Blogger Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Hoa Hao Buddhism Worshiper Nguyen Van Minh

Dear Mr La Rue, Mrs Sekaggya, and Mr Méndez

We are writing to protest the Vietnamese Communist Party and the Communist Government of Vietnam for their arbitrary arrests of innocent citizens and their violations of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which Vietnam signed on November 7, 2013.

On February 11, 2014, the Government of Vietnam utilized a force of up to 1,000 security and police personnel in Long Hung Commune, Lap Vo District, Dong Thap Province, brutally ambushing a group of 21 citizens including former prisoners of conscience, Hoa Hao Buddhism worshippers, and common folks. These 21 individuals were attacked while they were on their way to visit former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Bac Truyen’s family in Hung Nhon village, Long Hung Commune, Lap Vo District, Dong Thap province. Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen’s residence was the site of a violent attack and arrest of Mr. Truyen during which personal properties and sacred Hoa Hao shrines were destroyed on February 9, 2014. (Ex 1)

The entire group of 21 citizens including women were beaten until covered in blood before they were locked up in a dark, dirty room for almost 48 hours. (Ex 2) To make matters worse, the authorities did not provide food or drinking water for the detainees. This cruel mistreatment is clear evidence of the Vietnamese communist government’s violations of UNCAT.

As of present, 18 of the 21 detained individuals have been released. Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Mr. Nguyen Van Minh are still jailed at An Binh prison, which is under the direction of Vietnam’s central Ministry of Public Security. The reason of their imprisonment is “illegal gathering causing serious interference with common traffic” according to Article 245 of the Penal Code of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. (Ex. 3)

Government authorities can arrest or detain individuals who breach laws, pose immediate threats to society, or obstruct the investigation, prosecution, or implementation of a verdict. The visit to Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen’s family, who were suppressed by the Communist Government of Vietnam, did not violate any law or constitute any threat to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Therefore the arrests, torture, and detention of the 21 Vietnamese in this case, especially Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, not only infringed on Vietnamese laws but also violated the UNCAT, of which Vietnam is a signatory.

The Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam contains articles regarding individual rights as following:

Article 71 in the 1992 and 2013 versions of Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam states that “citizens have respectable rights to their individuality protected by laws including life, health, honor, and dignity. No-one can be arrested in the absence of a ruling by the People’s Court or a ruling or sanction by the People’s Office of Supervision and Control, except in case of flagrant offences. Taking a person into, or holding him in custody must be done with full observance of the law”

Article 72 in the 1992 and 2013 versions of Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam also emphasizes, “persons under wrongful arrest, detention, [or] prosecution are entitled to material compensation and character restoration. Any persons who wrongfully abuse the laws in [carrying out] arrests, detentions, and prosecution that caused damages to citizens are subjected to punishment by law.”

With such clear Constitution and laws, the Communist Government of Vietnam regularly infringes on personal safety and health of their citizens by habitual arrests and detention of innocent citizens. The extent of the problem is so serious that even government-controlled media acknowledges that there are thousands of Vietnamese citizens who suffer forced admittance of guilt, torture, and wrongful convictions. Up until now, there is a total absence of practices in government authority to prevent these illegal acts that breach local laws and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s Constitution as well as international conventions to which Vietnam is a member.

We strongly condemn these crimes against the people and the country of Vietnam by the Communist Government through this newest case of attacks, arrests, and torture of the group of 21 Vietnamese nationals mentioned above including ongoing imprisonment of Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, and Mr. Nguyen Van Minh.

In light of the above, we request that the Special Rapporteurs:

a)      call upon the government of Vietnam to release Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, and Mr Nguyen Van Minh and insist that they are not subjected to further torture or ill-treatment;

b)      b) raise with the government of Vietnam the mistreatment of Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, and Mr Nguyen Van Minh and request the government of Vietnam to conduct a complete and impartial investigation of their allegations of torture and ill-treatment

c)      urge the Government and Congress of the United States of America to stop ongoing negotiations regarding Vietnam’s admission into the Trans-Pacific-Partnership until the Communist Government of Vietnam releases all prisoners of conscience and improves their human rights practices;

We would welcome the opportunity to provide you with further information in relation to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Lanney Tran

Chairwoman of WFHR

Enclosed:

  • Ex 1, Police continues to terrorize the family and friends of dissident lawyer Truyen Bac Nguyen
  • Ex 2, Complaints against the Communist Government of Vietnam ARBITRARY IMPRISONMENT and INFRINGE THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE
  • Ex 3, Notice of Arrest

Additional documents:

  • Letter of Complaint (1) from Tran Bui Trung, son of Bui Thi Minh Hang
  • Letter calling for help (1) from Dang Thi Quynh Anh, daughter of Bui Thi Minh Hang
  • Appeal for help from Dang Thi Quynh Anh, daughter of Bui Thi Minh Hang
  • Letter calling for help (2) from Tran Bui Trung, son of Bui Thi Minh Hang
  • FIRST TESTAMENT, Re:  Wrongful Assaults and Unlawful Arrests by Lap Vo district’s Police

WFHR Special Rapporteur

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