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Rights group documents extrajudicial harassment in Vietnam

Human Rights Watch says more than 170 activists have been placed under house arrest, prevented from traveling and sometimes assaulted by Vietnamese government agents in a low-profile campaign to silence critics

BANGKOK — More than 170 activists have been placed under house arrest, prevented from traveling and sometimes assaulted by Vietnamese government agents in a little-noticed campaign to silence critics, a human rights group said Thursday.

Tactics to impede the movement of people are “often overlooked” in reports of the communist government’s imprisonment of dissidents and other “stripping of basic freedoms,” Human Rights Watch said in a report.

The group said it found more than 170 people facing travel bans and other pressures from 2004 to last year. Among them is Nguyen Tuong Thuy, 72, an army veteran who has championed the cause of political prisoners.

“Security officers harassed, intimidated, assaulted and arbitrarily detained him, and imposed house arrest and a travel ban on him,” the report said. Nguyen Tuong Thuy was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for “producing, storing, disseminating or propagating” anti-state information, Human Rights Watch said.

The report cites his descriptions of how authorities violated the rights of other activists, including firing them from their jobs, eviction from rented homes, physical assaults, robberies, vandalism of their homes, and interrogations and beatings inside police stations.

Vietnam said it was fully committed to protecting human rights, but government comments on the new report were not immediately available Thursday.

“Authorities employ rights-infringing tactics, such as indefinite house arrest of activists, detention while away from home, and bans on leaving the country for fabricated national security reasons,” Phil said. Robertson, the organization’s deputy director for Asia.

The report says house arrest is carried out through a variety of methods, including hiring guards to intimidate and stick locks, and is carried out preemptively, in anticipation of unrest, coinciding with major holidays, developments national politicians or the trials of political dissidents.

Movement restrictions also include a ban on overseas travel. In addition to travel bans on activities such as attending human rights rallies, activists have also been barred from taking personal trips for purposes such as tourism or accompanying a member of the family for medical treatment, according to the report.

He added that foreign travel bans had also been imposed on family members of human rights activists and journalists.

“Vietnamese rights activists face severe government repression simply for daring to organize or attend events, or seek to travel for their work,” Robertson said. “Vietnam’s donors and business partners should acknowledge this daily crackdown on free movement and pressure the government to end these crippling practices.

Vietnam has repeatedly defended its human rights record and notes its participation in the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process, where it defends its record on the subject and can respond to often critical comments from other stakeholders, such as non-governmental organizations.

“Viet Nam is fully committed to making continuous efforts for better protection and promotion of human rights, building on further institutional, legal and political progress, overcoming difficulties, realizing the “enabling government for the people” and promoting sustainable development”, he said. during its last UPR session in 2019. Examinations are held approximately every five years.

When Vietnam applied last year to serve on the UN Human Rights Council for its 2023-2025 term, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, then also foreign minister, said that his country continues to “emphasize the protection and promotion of all human rights”. and the fundamental freedoms of our people, even in these most difficult times,” referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

ABC News

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