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February 10, 2014

Vietnam Dissident Released After Brutal Arrest

by Tra Mi

A well-known Vietnamese human rights activist has been released from detention, just 24 hours after he says he was brutally arrested inside his home.

Nguyen Bac Truyen says hundreds of police and undercover agents raided his home in southern Dong Thap province Sunday, firing three gunshots before violently taking him away.

Truyen, who was released late Monday in Ho Chi Minh City, told VOA's Vietnamese service that he refused to answer any questions from the police.

“I told them, ‘You have violated laws when arresting me and assaulting me. So, I won’t answer any of your questions nor will I sign any documents,'" said Truyen.

His fiancée, Bui Thi Kim Phuong, says his arrest on Sunday was very violent.

“More than 100 policemen and undercover agents raided my home. They broke our front and back doors, barged into our home. They violently kicked my husband to the ground, blindfolded him, duct-taped his mouth, slapped him in the face, and handcuffed him," said  Kim Phuong.

Truyen has been using Facebook and other social media networks to publicize what he says are repressive policies against a Buddhist religious group. He says authorities in Dong Thap have been trying to make him leave the area.

“Police in Dong Thap have long wanted to retaliate against me. Ever since I moved to Dong Thap province, they have threatened me so many times via messages on Facebook and my mobile phone, asking me to leave this area or they would attack my in-laws. They have even threatened to throw explosives into my house. They threw stones into my residence every night. We asked for protection from the local authorities, but they said that was not their duty," he said.

Officials in the province have not commented on Truyan's arrest or release.

Truyen was freed from prison in 2010 after a three and a-half year jail term for ‘anti-state propaganda’ for criticizing the government and calling for democracy in Vietnam.

His arrest came just days after the U.N. Human Rights Council issued a list of 227 recommendations for Vietnam, including calls to abolish the death penalty, improve freedom of religion and end harassment of government critics.

Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc defended his country's record last week, and said it was going out of its way to encourage the "diverse emergence of the press and mass media, including the Internet."

Sweden's Anna Jakenberg Brinck criticized "an increase in regulations to control the Internet," saying "at least 58 people have been arrested or sentenced to prison under "vague provisions of 'national security offences' for exercising their right to freedom of expression on the Internet" since 2009.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.