Vietnam: Kien Giang Farmer Who Participates in June 10 Demonstration Found Dead after Police Interrogation
August 3, 2018, 10:44 am
Hua Hoang Anh, a farmer in Vietnam’s southern province of Kien Giang, who participated in the mass demonstration on June 10, 2018, was found dead after being interrogated by the local police, Defend the Defenders has learned.
According to news on social media, Mr. Hoang Anh, 35, died in the morning of August 2 near the People’s Committee building in the Ban Tan Dinh 1 Commune, Giong Rieng District, far from his house in Binh Loi Village, Minh Hoa Commune, Chau Thanh District.
Police in Kien Giang said he had committed suicide, however, there were a number of injuries on his head and neck.
He was reportedly summoned by the Kien Giang police for interrogation about his participation in peaceful demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, in the morning of August 2.
Anh has a duck farm in Minh Hoa Commune, according to Buddhist follower Huynh Tan Tuyen from Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, with whom they had conversions in recent months.
Mr. Tuyen said they met each other on June 10 while security forces in Ho Chi Minh tried to detain them. Anh helped Tuyen and other to escape from police, both were beaten and dragged into a police car before.
The days after the demonstration, both Tuyen and Anh were summoned by police in their localities, Tuyen said. Defend the Defenders got a digital copy of the police letter summoning him to police station dated on July 26 asking him to be at Minh Hoa Commune’s police station on July 28.
Authorities in Kien Giang are reportedly to deploy police and plainclothes agents to Mr. Anh’s private residence in Minh Hoa Commune to prevent other activists to come to share sympathy to his family and gain information about his death.
On mid-June, thousands of Vietnamese rallied on streets in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang, Nha Trang and Binh Thuan and other localities to protest the National Assembly’s plan to approve two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.
Police responded aggressively to disperse the spontanous protests on June 10, beating and arresting hundreds of participants. The detainees were beaten and interrogated by police officers before being released while around 40 others have been convicted and sentenced to between eight months and 42 months in prison on allegation of “Disturbance or public order” under Article 318 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.
Using videos made during the demonstration, authorities in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities identified other participants who were not detained on the day, and impose different methods to harass them: summoning to police station for interrogation and listing them at their black records. Mr. Anh fell into this group.
Mr. Tuyen told Defend the Defenders that Anh shared with him that since late 2017, he had been interrogated by police in Kien Giang about his Facebook posts on Vietnam’s human rights violations, environmental pollution, and the government’s weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the South China Sea. Police had searched Anh’s private residence, questioned and beat him many times after June 10, Tuyen added.
Anh has been the second activist found dead after being interrogated by police since 2017. On May 2, police in Vinh Long province detained local Hoa Hao Buddhist follower Nguyen Huu Tan on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” and on the next day, police informed his family that he had committed suicide during interrogation by using a letter opener of an interrogation officer.
Police brutality is systemic in Vietnam, according to a report of Human Rights Watch while the Ministry of Public Security admitted that 226 suspects and inmates died in police stations and detention facilities across the nation between October 2010 and September 2014.
The situation has not been improved even after Vietnam ratified the UN Convention against Torture in November 2014 as dozens of people continue to die mysteriosly in custody in recent years. Human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was imprisoned last year partly because she documented 31 cases of mysterious deaths in police custody.
Meanwhile, the right to asssembly is enshrined in the country’s 2013 Constitution, however, the communist government does not welcome spontanous gatherings, and use violent measures to suppress those demonstrations considered to challenge the ruling communist party’s power.