Tai Nguyen, the brother of murdered Nam Nguyen recently testified on this at a congressional hearing. Everyone was in suits and the professional atmosphere made it was awkward to see tears in the eyes of the witness. At first the his speech is in abrupt phrases, but after a few minutes the emotion in his voice bridges any language barrier. He holds up pictures of the event and of his brother, pleading for our help. Congressmen, staffers, and government employees coverd their eyes to wipe away tears. The depth of what was described went far beyond the usual hearing—it moved those who heard it. Below is his firsthand account of the events:
Even though I am living far from my country my heart is always with my homeland.
Since the day the Da Nang government said they would take my parish I and many other people try to do anything we can to protest. I and my younger brother helped bring all this information out so that we can inform the world. The land of our parish [is] a holy land. The land has been built by our ancestors. Therefore this land is the heritage of our people; it is very valuable to each of us. And in this holy land there was a parish church where we practice our religion to help our spirit. The church was very important for our spirit life and is a place of fall back, a place for family, a place for strength, to help our spirit life and our daily life.
Beside the church knows how a place where we bury our ancestors the cemetery of the parish. Our ancestor, our brother and sister, are all lying there when they die so it’s a very important to protect. And this land, this cemetery is not a normal piece of land. It is a heritage of our parish.
Because of all those reasons people of Con Dau do not want, do not allow the government of Da Nang to take away the church and the cemetery. Because of love and justice and we united to protest our land taken away by government of Da Nang
On the 27th of January, 2010, the government of Da Nang bring four hundred police, local police to the village of Con Dau and ask the people of Con Dau to sign the paper to give up the land. And the people of Con Dau were united with each other, to protest and oppose in order of the government of Da Nang. That time the government of Da Nang failed but at the time of the funeral they tried to use this occasion so that they can suppress the people.
The police and people confront each other and the police tried to take away the coffin. They tried to destroy it. The police force report that weapons are there. There are about 500 police force and the local security.
I have the video clip that shows that my younger brother was beaten on his head during the funeral. My brother was beaten and 62 other people were taken away and was beaten a lot more people were beaten. They want to make it disappear that anybody was there.
That day, since one in the morning until one thirty in the afternoon I keep communication with our people in Con Dau. We communicate by phone and my brother informed me that the police, the special anti riot police were coming and surround them.
Three o’clock in the morning police is coming to the cemetery and bring out the elderly, the women and the children and beat them in the cemetery.
I heard the crying of the women on the phone
My young brother was in pain, during crying, they are they’re beat us and they are not allowed anybody to the cemetery. My brothers told me that this way they are going to kill people of our village. The last words I heard from my younger brother was that he was beaten on his head and he doesn’t know anything else. That is the last word I heard before his arrest.
After my brother was detained he was beaten on the back, on the belly, on the neck and after two month my brother still could not move easily. When my brother was detained he was tortured along with sixty two other people from Con Dau very badly. They even beat pregnant woman and they have a very special tactic in torture. They hanged the woman up, they hanged the people who were beaten and push them into the wall, push them into the ground. Some people would not admit guilt and the police say they will beat until they admit they are guilty.
And after they admit they are guilty and they beat again so that they can go.
When my younger brother do not agree to sign they took my brother’s hand onto the table and this hit until he accept to sign.
There was a woman who was stripped naked and they used a shotgun to hit in her secret places. The men were hit in the hidden place by the shotgun.
When they are released, my brother and all the people were released they were to provide a written statement saying that they do not say anything about the torture, they are not allowed to say anything about what happened when detained. They are not allowed seek medical treatment for their injury. When they coming home they have to cooperate with government to accuse other people of Con Dau and have to show up every 24 hours.
My brother was hiding, running away and hiding at home and a few days later the police come home and they take him to the station. When the video clip of my brother was sent over to the media, the police want to know who videotaped him, who are the leaders .
My brother did not want to reveal anything.
So, they beat him up and then go home and do it again four times. After the fourth time he told his wife and friends that he cannot handle anymore and if it continue like that he would die.
The next night the police come to my brother’s house and my brother hear the dog bark and he’s scared and try to run away. One person in the neighborhood saw him and call the police. The police bring more people and come to arrest him and capture him.
They caught him in the next village. They beat him in his chest. Blood is coming out of his ear from his injury. Blood coming out from his nose. These police beat him so bad his wife kneel down and beg them to forgive him.
They say no, they say they are police from the government
They come and beat him again and after seeing him so bad, he couldn’t handle any more so they ask his wife to bring him home, wash him. My brother told his wife that he cannot handle anymore and his come to his mother – to my mother’s house and he die on her arm.
People are not allowed to come to pray for my brother after his death. They do not allow anybody to come to his house and to be around during the first 24 hours. The police ask to be given autopsy but my family not agree to that because they say that his body has been badly beaten so everybody see what happen so they don’t want to have autopsy for him. The police escort the funereal to the final destination so that – to make sure that he was buried there. [They say] my brother’s death was because he die because of heart attack.
Today I’m coming here asking for the U.S. government to intervene, to ask justice for my brother and only the U.S. government can help to bring justice to my brother’s death.
I ask the U.S. government to intervene to prevent the policies of Da Nang, to stop harassing my family, my people at Con Dau.
End Note: Currently eight villagers are imprisoned in Hoa Son prison, 30 km away from Con Dau. Their names are Mr. Nguyễn Hữu Liêm, Mr. Trần Thanh Việt, Mr. Lê Thanh Lâm, Mr. Đoàn Cảng, Mr. Nguyen Huu Minh, Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Thế, Mrs. Phan Thị Nhẫn, and Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Liễu. All eight detainees have been severely beaten and tortured. Please join us as we pressure the Vietnamese government to free these individuals by signing our petition online here.
Please know that while we cannot give specifics, ICC is currently assisting those most in need with this situation.