ucanews.com reporter, Hanoi
Updated: May 30, 2019 05:01 AM GMT
Plainclothes Vietnamese police station themselves in front of the house of Hua Phi, leader of an unapproved Cao Dai group, in Lam Dong province's Duc Trong district on May 12. (Photo courtesy of Hua Phi)
Religious leaders and activists in Vietnam have launched a national campaign to demand the government lift unlawful restrictions on their freedom of movement.
They said the right to travel of many citizens has been rampantly violated for a long time across the country.
“We, Vietnamese citizens, are regularly and violently prevented from travelling freely by strangers,” they said in a statement.
They said secret agents are stationed in front of their houses and try to keep them at home, while strangers throw stones at people’s houses and shout threats.
In April, Ho Chi Minh City’s Communist Party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan was quoted by a state-run newspaper as saying that the city government had listed some 600 people as leading and organizing protests and had made plans to monitor and deal with their actions.
On May 12, Hua Phi, a Cao Dai leader in Lam Dong province, said many secret agents wearing face masks blocked paths, took videos and stopped him from going to meet a U.S. diplomatic delegation at a pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. Many other rights activists were banned from meeting the U.S. delegation.
Nguyen Quang A., a well-known democracy activist based in Hanoi, said he has been kept at his home, kidnapped or detained while travelling for work 26 times during the past three years.
He is one of 100 priests, pastors and activists who launched the campaign against restrictions on their mobility on May 24.
“In many cases, strangers use foul language to destroy our honor and dignity and even use physical force to damage our bodies and threaten our life,” they said in their statement.
“We are citizens with full human and civil rights by law, so all behavior that violates our rights to travel and hurts our bodies, honor and dignity is unlawful.
“If strangers continue violating our rights to travel, we will act in self-defense by law. The government must be responsible for possible bad results.
“We demand the government immediately end violations of civilians’ freedom of movement to show that all civilians are equal before the law.”