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Paulo, seen here with his wife (activist Trinh Kim Tien) and child, was arrested and then beaten up by unidentified men. Source: Vietnam Right Now

Vietnam Right Now, Jan. 17, 2017: It started as a class for young would-be activists eager to learn about their political rights, and ended a few weeks later with a police raid and vicious assaults on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. The violent attacks just before Christmas highlighted the perils of standing up for human rights and democratic freedoms in Vietnam’s one party state, where government critics are routinely subjected to intimidation and arrest. Doan Trang sent this report on how one group of independent minded young people incurred the wrath of the national security establishment.

When Hanah (her name has been changed to protect her identity) joined the class, she didn’t expect that a few weeks later she would be sitting in a chair being interrogated by a group of policemen and then be kicked to the ground and stomped on by a gang of toughs.

In her early twenties, Hanah came to Ho Chi Minh City from the countryside and took a job as a hairdresser’s apprentice. She saw few other prospects in the city, as she came from a poor family and had quit school at 16.

She became interested in politics and society when she joined thousands who took to the streets to demand answers over the government’s handling of a major environmental disaster off the north-central coast last April and May.

As a practicing Catholic and someone with a fast developing social conscience, she was appalled by the aggressive and brazen way in which police broke up the demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere. Read More

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Catholic activist Dang Xuan Dieu, in an undated photo. Source: RFA

RFA January 13, 2017: Vietnamese authorities released one dissident from jail this week as they exiled the former political prisoner to France, but at the same time they blocked another well-known dissident from leaving the country.

Dang Xuan Dieu, a blogger, community organizer and a member of the outlawed Viet Tan organization, was released late Thursday and deported to Paris after serving six years of a 13-year prison term, according to family members and his international attorney. Read More

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Former prisoner of conscience Le Cong Dinh at a peaceful demonstration in Saigon last year. Source: vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net

Defend the Defenders, January 13, 2017: Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have placed a number of local activists under house arrest since early Thursday in a bid to prevent them from taking part in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting the Southeast Asian nation for the last time before stepping down on Jan 20.

Prominent lawyer Le Cong Dinh, former political prisoner, said a group of over ten plainclothes agents are stationing near his private residence on January 12-13, not allowing him to go out of the area.

Dinh said he was invited by the U.S. General Consulate in HCM City to meet with Kerry when the U.S. top diplomat comes to the city on afternoon of Friday.

Other activists have also complained of being de facto under house arrest.

After meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and holding talks with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son in Hanoi on Friday, Kerry travels to HCM City where he will meet with Dinh La Thang, secretary of the ruling communist party’s Committee in the city.

Kerry is scheduled to meet with local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders.

Along with barring local activists from going abroad, Vietnam’s authorities have applied a number of measures to prevent them from meeting with foreign diplomats and officials.

Last year, many activists were not allowed to attend a meeting between President Barack Obama and representatives of local civil societies as part of his visit to Vietnam on May 23-25.

Source: vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net

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Catholic groups held vigils for Dieu and his fellow prisoners. Source: Vietnam Right Now

Vietnam Right Now, Jan. 12. 2017: A Catholic activist, Dang Xuan Dieu, has been released from a thirteen year prison sentence, and sent into exile in France.

Reports said that Dieu, who has been in custody since July 2011, was taken directly from prison camp to Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City and put on a flight to Paris.

He was sentenced with thirteen other activists in 2013 at a high profile trial at the People’s Court in Nghe An, on charges of working to overthrow the government, under Article 79 of the penal code. Read More

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Mrs Tuyet Lan and Me Nam’s children. Source: Tuyet Lan Nguyen’s Facebook

The 88 Project, January 10, 2017: It has been three months since blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Me Nam) was arrested. Her family has been able to send her food supply, but they have not been allowed to visit her. This letter was written by Mrs. Nguyen Tuyet Lan, Me Nam’s mother, before Christmas. It expresses her appreciation for those, near and far, who have spoken out for me Nam and/or supported her family during the hard time the family had to endure after Me Nam’s arrest.

We hope the international community will continue to stand with Me Nam’s family and Vietnamese activists in seeking justice for Me Nam.

Mrs. Nguyen Tuyet Lan, mother of Me Nam, December 22, 2016: After days and days with eyes filled with tears, today I manage to pull myself together to write this letter, to thank you.

I would like to send this letter to all the brothers, sisters, and people whom I have never met, those who have showed sympathy, encouraged and helped when my family and I were treated unjustly. Read More

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Mr. Nguyen Ho Nhat Thanh (second from left) at a meeting with UN Special Rapporter on freedom of religion and belief Heiner Bielefeldt. Source: vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net

Defend the Defenders, December 28, 2016: Nguyen Ho Nhat Thanh, a young activist from Saigon, was kidnapped, interrogated and beaten two times by plainclothes police on December 26, the victim has told Defend the Defenders.

Thanh, who is organizing a training course on activism for young individuals from the southern region, said on Monday’s afternoon he was informed by the trainees that local authorities came to the training site to demand for administrative check. Shortly after coming to a cafeteria nearly at 3.30 PM, he was suddenly attacked by a group of ten plainclothes agents. Read More

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Nguyen Quoc Huu Duy. Souce: Dan Lam Bao

Blogger Trinh Kim Tien, HCM City, December 22, 2016: Before blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was arrested for the crime of being a peaceful civil rights activist, she had often raised her voice to support Vietnamese prisoners of conscience and victims of injustice. Among them is Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy, whose appeal trial is going to take place on December 26, 2016. The day of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s arrest, October 10, 2016, was actually the day she was taking Duy’s mother to visit him in prison. Read More