Man Dies During Police Interrogation; Security Bureau Enforces Detention of Nguyen Thuy Hanh

Man Dies During Police Interrogation; Security Bureau Enforces Detention of Nguyen Thuy Hanh
Graphic: The Vietnamese Magazine.

A Man Reported Dead while in Dong Nai Provincial Police Custody

State media reported that a Vietnamese man named Vu Minh Duc, 31, a resident of Long Thanh District, Dong Nai Province, was confirmed dead during an interrogation on March 22 after the district police summoned him for questioning about his alleged involvement in a “public order disruption” incident.

At around 3:15 p.m. on the same day, a police officer called Duc's wife, whose name was listed as N.T.T.P., and asked her to come to the district police headquarters to sign a document relating to his “medical records.” 

At the police station, Duc's wife told the police that her husband did not have any particular medical condition and that he only had trouble sleeping recently. When she asked the police about her husband's current condition, the officer in charge said that Duc was taken to the Long Thanh District Hospital because he fainted during the investigation. Duc was then transferred to Cho Ray Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, and reportedly died around 9:30 p.m. that evening.

A doctor at Cho Ray Hospital announced that Duc died as a result of suffering from multiple internal injuries. According to the photos provided by the family, his body had several bruises on the left leg and stains of dried blood on his neck and mouth. The family had reportedly requested the National Institute of Forensic Medicine to coordinate with Dong Nai Provincial Police to conduct an autopsy of his body.

On March 27, Dong Nai Provincial Police announced that it had put Captain Thai Thanh Thuong, deputy officer of the Social Order Crime Investigation Unit of Long Thanh District Police, on official suspension to investigate the cause of Duc’s death further. 

Vietnam Enforces Compulsory Detention of Nguyen Thuy Hanh Despite Serious Illness

On March 22, the Security Investigation Bureau of the Hanoi Police Department issued an official notice that it would detain Nguyen Thuy Hanh, a political prisoner, and hold her at the temporary detention camp No. 2 in Thuong Tin Commune. According to Huynh Ngoc Chenh, Hanh’s husband, the police took her to the detention center without her family’s knowledge after she finished her chemotherapy session at around 4:30 p.m. that day.

Chenh said that he only learned about Hanh’s condition on March 27, when he was invited to the investigation agency to receive a paper notice regarding her temporary detention. The notice declared that Hanh would be subject to further investigation for her alleged act of “distributing anti-state propaganda” under Article 117. The police notice did not state the detention period, and when Chenh inquired about this issue, an investigator said that Hanh would be detained for three months.

On March 10, the family of Hanh, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer, requested the investigation bureau release her on bail for medical treatment. According to Chenh, the police bureau agreed to release Hanh on bail on the condition that she must stay at the exact address where she resided before her arrest. However, as the apartment she stayed in was leased until March 18, Chenh told the investigator that he would negotiate with the tenant to terminate the contract earlier.

However, when Chenh settled with the tenant to end the contract and contacted the investigation bureau on March 17, the investigator did not respond to his call. Previously, Hanh’s family and lawyers had petitioned the Hanoi Police Department to let her stay out on bail to receive proper treatment for her cancer. Before Hanh was forced to receive psychiatric treatment at the Central Institute of Forensic Psychiatry, she had dealt with depression for a long time and once attempted suicide while in police detention.

Administrator of Dissident Facebook Fan Page Receives Eight-Year Prison Sentence

A court in Tien Giang Province on March 26 sentenced Nguyen Van Lam, 33, to eight years in prison for managing a Facebook page deemed by authorities as having defamed and smeared Vietnam’s leaders. Lam was a former administrator of “A Patriot’s Diary,” a Facebook fan page that publishes news and commentaries critical of Vietnam’s one-party regime. “A Patriot’s Diary” has multiple fan pages, and one of its pages has more than 800,000 followers.

The court convicted Lam of “making, storing, distributing, and propagandizing anti-state materials” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

The court’s indictment said that Lam had used his Facebook account, “Nguyễn Lâm,” to post 19 pieces of content distorting Vietnam's one-party rule. He was also accused of regularly visiting websites and social media pages to read posts and articles with harmful content and, therefore, was influenced by “hostile and anti-state” groups.

Lam’s conviction reflects the government’s growing crackdown on online speech. In July 2023, the Ho Chi Minh City Police Department arrested Phan Tat Thanh, a former fan page administrator of A Patriot Diary, and similarly charged him with violating Article 117.

Two Khmer Krom Social Media Users Arrested for ‘Abusing Democratic Freedoms’

The Vinh Long Provincial Police confirmed on March 27 that they had detained and prosecuted two local Khmer Krom residents for “posting false and slanderous and articles to insult government agencies, organizations, individuals.”

Thach Chanh Da Ra, 34, and Kim Khiem, 46, both live in Loan My Commune, Tam Binh District, Vinh Long Province. The two men were charged with “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 of the Penal Code. According to the police, the investigation showed that since 2020, Thach and Kim had used social networks to post and share articles and host live streams containing information that the authorities consider “slanderous and insulting.”

The police said that they had “collected sufficient evidence” from the personal Facebook accounts of the two men proving violations of Article 331. Also, according to the police, Kim had previously received an administrative fine for “posting false information to slander and insult the reputation of agencies and organizations.”

CIVICUS: Civic Space in Vietnam Still Rated As ‘Closed’

CIVICUS, a nonprofit organization monitoring the state of civil society worldwide, said in a publication on March 27 that Vietnam’s civic space is still rated “closed” and remains tightly controlled, with the government’s systematic attempts to crack down on human rights defenders, journalists, and bloggers. Meanwhile, the authorities have utilized national security laws and media censorship to curb freedom of expression in cyberspace and physical spaces.

The reports of CIVICUS also underscore the arrests of several activists in recent months, including Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Nguyen Vu Binh, and Hoang Viet Khanh, who were charged under Article 117. Meanwhile, ethnic Khmer Krom activists and Christian activists faced prison sentences on vague allegations such as “eroding the national unity bloc.” Mistreatment of human rights defenders persists in Vietnamese prisons, as in the case of Dang Dinh Bach, who initiated a hunger strike to protest his detention conditions. 

At the same time, the right to peaceful assembly of Vietnamese citizens continues to be violated as security forces often use violence to disperse protests. The police cracked down on two significant demonstrations in Nghe An and Thanh Hoa provinces against land development projects last year, leading to many demonstrators being hospitalized with injuries on their heads and limbs.

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Vietnam minister credits ‘bamboo diplomacy’ for balancing nation’s relations with China and US

South China Morning Post/ Khushboo Razdan/ March 27

“On Monday, [Bui Thanh] Son had meetings with senior Biden administration officials, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, the first ministerial-level talks since the upgrading of ties.

The discussions ranged from cooperation in semiconductor manufacturing to diversification of supply chains to critical minerals and artificial intelligence.

Son’s visit came as Vietnam strives to assure neighbours, allies and investors that the recent surprise resignation last week of President Vo Van Thuong over corruption allegations – would not lead to any political instability.”

Vietnam Is in Danger of Losing Its China +1 Appeal

Bloomberg/ Karishma Vaswani/ March 25

“The result, though, is an unnerving leadership vacuum at a time when one of the world's fastest-growing economies is facing a surprise decline in exports and concerns over inflation. The next National Congress isn't scheduled until 2026, which means that the nation once prized for its predictability is now facing a chaotic few years, unless a smooth path to succession is laid out. Political infighting and tribalism within the party could make this contentious. Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan will be acting president until parliament selects a new one."

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