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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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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