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Vietnam urged to protect Catholic activist from thugs

Police accused of failing to act against criminal harassment and violence

ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

Updated: July 05, 2018 04:38 AM GMT
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Vietnam urged to protect Catholic activist from thugs

Women work on the production line at a garment company in Hanoi. After organising communist Vietnam's first peaceful mass strike at a shoe factory, labor activist Do Thi Minh Hanh was arrested, beaten by police and jailed for four years. (Photo by Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP)

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International rights group Amnesty International has urged Vietnam's government to guarantee the safety of a labor activist who has had her home terrorized.

On the night of July 3, a group of masked men hurled stones and bricks at the home of Do Thi Minh Hanh, damaging the building and furniture as well as other personal possessions.

Hanh, a member of the Lao Dong Viet Movement, which advocates for labor rights in Vietnam, said they cut off the power supply and sprayed foul-smelling "smoke" that made her 76-year-old father feel ill.

She said this was the fourth attack on her family, in the Di Linh District of Lam Dong Province in the central highlands, in 10 days.

One of these saw a bag of explosives thrown into their home but it failed to go off.

Hanh, who was banned from traveling abroad for national security reasons on May 16, called the local police several times but did not receive any assistance.

Dinh Van Hai, an activist, was badly beaten by four masked men on June 27 after he visited Hanh and posted a video clip describing the scene of the attacks. Hai had ribs, as well as bones in his hands and a shoulder, broken.

Amnesty called on the government to take urgent steps to protect Hanh before the situation deteriorates further.

"It's outrageous that the police are abdicating their responsibility and allowing these attacks to happen without taking any action," Minar Pimple, senior director of global operations at Amnesty, said on July 2.

"The attacks, which are becoming increasingly violent, are likely motivated by Do Thi Minh Hanh's high-profile activism — this must not be used by authorities as a reason to turn a blind eye."

He added that human rights defenders should be able to carry out their work without facing harassment or violence.

In 2006, Hanh co-founded the United Workers-Farmers Organization, an independent union to promote higher pay and improved workplace safety.

Four years later, she was handed a seven-year sentence for "disrupting national security" but she was suddenly released in 2014.

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