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Christian activists' relatives harassed by Vietnam police

Families of jailed activists say they are being persecuted and even blocked from working for a living

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

Updated: July 05, 2020 04:27 AM GMT
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Christian activists' relatives harassed by Vietnam police

Nguyen Trung Trong Nghia lies in bed at home after he was brutally attacked by masked men on June 30. (Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thi Lanh)

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Relatives of Christian activists serving long prison sentences say they are being persecuted and prevented from working for a living.

Catholic human rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy said a bank based in Buon Ma Thuot City has refused to employ her husband’s niece Nguyen Nhat My, who had been due to start a new job at the bank early this month.

Vy, who is banned from traveling within Vietnam and abroad, said that just one day before My was due to start work, a bank official emailed telling her that she “was not suitable for the job due to some political reasons.”

The 35-year-old mother of two accused security officers of intervening in the case.

“Security officers in Dak Lak province have to be responsible for this unfairness and inhumanity,” she said, adding that My is not relating to her anti-state activities.

She said a teacher had once called My a “niece of reactionaries” when she studied at a secondary school.

“It is unreasonable and inhuman to discriminate against your relatives just because of your anti-government will and activities,” the outspoken blogger announced on Facebook on July 3.

In 2018, Vy, co-founder of Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, was sentenced to 33 months in prison for daubing white paint on national flags by the People's Court of Buon Ho in Dak Lak province. She was eight weeks pregnant with her second child at that time. The court allowed her to serve the sentence after the child turned three to give her time to nurse her baby.

“As a dissident, I have accepted all police harassment for criticizing the dictatorial communist government for the past 10 years,” Vy said.

Nguyen Thi Lanh said security officers in Thanh Hoa province forced her family not to leave their house on June 29-30 and did not tell her the reason. They also locked her house’s gate.

Lanh, who became the sole breadwinner of the four-member family after her husband Christian pastor Nguyen Trung Ton was arrested in 2017, said she and her son Nguyen Trung Trong Nghia broke the lock and she went to sell onions, fish sauce and other food at a market on June 30. A female security officer watched her at the market.

She said a customer bought her food and later returned to accuse her of dishonestly selling poor-quality food. He asked her to attend a police station even though she agreed to return his money.

Lanh said Nghia was brutally beaten by two young men wearing face masks in front of police officers while he and his brother were on the way to meet her at the police station.

She said police told her son that her family were kept at their home while US Ambassador Daniel J. Kritenbrink was visiting the district on June 30. Police feared they would meet the ambassador.

“Police tried to back us into tight corners and cut off our livelihood,” Lanh said.

Her husband Ton is serving a 12-year term of imprisonment after being convicted of an attempt to overthrow the communist government.

Nguyen Thi Tinh, the wife of jailed music teacher Nguyen Nang Tinh, said she had asked police to stop terrorizing her and her family and that she tried to control herself not to insult them.

Security officers in Dong Thap province invited her to their station on July 3 for the second time. They wanted to question her about her posts on Facebook.

Tinh, who teaches at a university in the province, said she refused the police invitation and had to take her child to the doctor.

Her husband Tinh is serving a sentence of 11 years in jail for writing and posting articles that defamed and opposed the communist government.

Rights group Defend the Defenders reported that this year that Vietnam has detained 47 activists for anti-state activities. The government has imprisoned 276 prisoners of conscience including 63 social activists without trial.

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