Attack on Vietnamese dissident condemned

Former prisoner of conscience under constant harassment since being freed last August
Attack on Vietnamese dissident condemned

Injured Paul Tran Minh Nhat, after attackers threw stones at him. (Photo from Nhat's Facebook account)

ucanews.com correspondent, Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
February 25, 2016
Redemptorists have condemned the latest brutal attack on a former prisoner of conscience, calling on security officials to stop their violent actions.

Paul Tran Minh Nhat, who was released from prison last August after being sentenced to four years in prison for sedition, was brutally attacked with stones at his house by a dozen security officials on Feb. 22. Nhat was injured in the head during the attack.

Then Nhat and his mother were moved to their relatives' house one kilometer away to avoid the attack. However, security officers and other attackers continued stoning the house.

Nhat's family members said the attackers had been watching their house for months.

Sources told ucanews.com that the attackers shouted at them, threw stones at the house, and prevented them from hospitalizing Nhat. The attack took place while his family members were reciting evening prayers at their home in Highlands Lam Dong province's Lam Ha District.

"The serious attack shows that local authorities flagrantly violate the laws, disregard human life and invade basic human rights," Redemptorist Father Anthony Le Ngoc Thanh told ucanews.com.

Redemptorist Father Joseph Truong Hoang Vu described the attack as an "inhuman action."

In a statement released by the Redemptorists’ Justice and Peace Office and the rights group Good News to the Poor, Father Vu accused the authorities of "destroying the victims' income and leave them completely destitute." 

He said earlier this month, thugs hired by police poured chemical pesticides around Nhat's house causing family members to feel sick, killing livestock and crops. The assailants also attempted to set fire to the house and on another occasion vandalized the house and threatened Nhat’s family members, Father Vu said. 

"Nhat has petitioned local authorities many times to prevent such attacks but they have had no replies," Father Vu said.

Since his release from prison last August, Nhat has been physically attacked and threatened by police. 

Father Vu also accused security officers of protecting the assailants. "Without security officers' order, the thugs do not dare do such actions," he said

The priest noted that Nhat works as a reporter for Good News to the Poor and as a human rights advocate. "Consequently he suffers brutal attacks and harassment from local government authorities," he said. 

Father Thanh said Nhat's case is typical of dissidents, democracy and human rights advocates, who suffer state-sanctioned harassment and persecution.

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