Vietnam Security Forces Threaten Family Members Of Christian Dissidents, Official Says
By BosNewsLife News Center
3/25/07 Vietnam (BosNewsLife) In one of the latest incidents on Thursday, March 22, in Quang Ninh province police “summoned” the brother-in-law of Tran Van Hoa, an active Christian and member of the anti-government People’s Democratic Party of Vietnam (PDPV) for interrogation,” a key official told BosNewsLife.
The next day Friday, March 23, they repeatedly summoned Hoa and his wife to Quang Ninh police station “for further questions,” said PDPV’s co-founder Cong Thanh Do, also known as Tran Nam .
“They intend using family members to pressure Tran Van Hoa to denounce his democratic activities as well as to limit his religious practices,” he told BosNewsLife. “As a result, Tran Van Hoa’s family was asked to move out of Hoa’s brother-in-law house as soon as possible.”
Elsewhere in Hanoi, family members of two detained human rights lawyers, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan have been warned not to speak publicly about their case “for their own safety”, said Tran Nam, who is in close contact with dissidents’ relatives. The March 22 threat came at a time when Dai’s wife, Vu Kim Khanh, is under 24 hours surveillance to discourage her from speaking to international media and organizations, dissidents said.
Dai, an active Christian who has defended imprisoned Christians and other dissidents, was detained on March 6 with Cong Nhan, spokesperson for The Progression Party. Both activists have been held at Hoa Lo prison of Cau Dien village outside the center of Hanoi , without apparent contact with the outside world.
“Authorities have denied family visits [and] prison officials have refused to comment on Dai and Cong Nhan’s hunger strike status,” which they began to protest their detention, Tran Nam said. Vietnam ‘s Communist government has reportedly told many Vietnamese lawyers that they would “not be friendly” to anyone defending Dai and Cong Nhan.
Tran Nam said these are no isolated incidents. He recalled that on March 16, police in Ho Chi Minh City , which was previously known as Saigon , used family members of pro-democracy activist Do Nam Hai, including his daughter, father and sister, “to pressure him to denounce his democratic activities.” He has also been pressured to end his role in “the democracy movement,” Tran Nam added.
Hai, also known as Phuong Nam , is a well known leading member of The Alliance for Human Rights and Democracy in Vietnam , a major umbrella group of dissidents. Elsewhere in Ho Chi Minh City police magazine allegedly posted “wanted” signs for activist Nguyen Chinh Ket, a leader of the Alliance for Human Rights and Democracy in Vietnam , on charges of “carrying out actions against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”.
Previously police reportedly raided his house and announced an order for his arrest to his wife and daughter. Ket has been traveling overseas to report on human rights conditions in Vietnam , and was in Denmark this week, after visiting the United States and Norway .
The latest developments came as a major discouragement for family members of two other key pro-democracy activists, Nguyen Bac Truyen and Tran thi Le Hong, who were detained last year. Truyen, a lawyer and central committee member of the PDPV has not seen his family since his arrest in December, Tran Nam said.
“No one from his family has been allowed to visit him at 4 Phan Dang Luu prison. To iincrease pressure on Truyen and intimidate his family members, police [also] harassed his business” in Ho Chi Minh City , with more than 40 employees, “until they were forced to close due to bankruptcy,” he added. “As a result his wife has [been forced] to abandon his case.”
Tran thi Le Hong, the founder of the United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam, has reportedly been without family support since her arrest in November in Ho Chi Minh City where she has been held at the apparently harsh B34 prison. “Police informed her four children that Hong was a drug dealer and to stay away from her or risk reprisal.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other advocacy groups have said that the current crack-down in Vietnam on dissidents and active Christians is part of efforts by the Communist Party to stifle democratic reforms while allowing some economic progress.
HRW said in a recent report that Vietnam ‘s government had been “emboldened” by the international community which allowed it to join the World Trade Organization. Christian and other groups have expressed outrage that the United States withdrew Vietnam from its list of Countries of Particular Concern regarding alleged religious rights abuses.
Vietnam ‘s government has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying it seeks closer ties with the outside world, including even with the Vatican .