Vietnamese activist detained 'illegally' for 6 months

Man's wife issues public appeal for help as still no word from husband who was whisked away on eve of protest march in HCMC
Vietnamese activist detained 'illegally' for 6 months

Vietnamese activists hold posters marking International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in Hanoi on June 26, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Nguyen Vu Binh) reporter, Ho Chi Minh City
February 25, 2019
A Vietnamese woman whose husband has allegedly been victimized by police crackdowns on protests against the government's approval of controversial laws has called on the public to support calls for his release from prison.

Le Thi Khanh said her husband, Tran Thanh Phuong, has been detained without notice for six months.

She said police came to her home and examined their personal documents on Sept. 1, 2018. Afterwards, Tran was escorted to police headquarters at Binh Hung Hoa ward in Ho Chi Minh City's Binh Tan district.

Khanh said Phuong was arrested shortly before a planned march on Sept. 4.

On June 10, her husband joined thousands of people, including Catholics, in staging peaceful protests in HCMC against a newly passed cybersecurity law and a highly controversial bill on the establishment of three new special economic zones, which they fear would be controlled by Chinese investors.

"They detained him at the ward headquarters for one week, and I had to give him daily food," Khanh said, adding she was told Phuong had been sent to the district police and was sitting behind bars in Binh Thanh district.

The mother of two said she still has not received any information about his condition. She has accused the police of violating the law by detaining him "illegally" for so long without prosecuting him.

Khanh said the police permit her to send food, money and medicine to her husband twice a month. He reportedly suffers from high blood pressure and bronchial asthma.

She said her daughter, who posted a video clip on social media about her father's arrest and urged people to rally to his side, has also been summoned by the police but Khanh refused to let her go as it could interfere with her studies.

Khanh said she asked an attorney to defend her husband but claimed the lawyer has not been allowed to meet him.

She said she has had to work for other people to support the family since Phuong was arrested, as he was the breadwinner.

"I demand the police free my husband or tell me why he has been arrested," she said.

She claims he was merely acting in a "patriotic" way and supporting the best interests of Vietnam by protesting against laws deemed unfair.

State-run media reported that 110 protesters were imprisoned for causing public disorder last June when they staged protests against the two laws. Many have already received heavy prison sentences of around five years.

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