Declaration from Catholic Youth Activists and Former Prisoners of Conscience

Declaration from Catholic Youth Activists and Former Prisoners of Conscience

February 18, 2016

Regarding the Vietnamese authorities’ brutal actions toward former prisoner of conscience Tran Minh Nhat and his family

We, the former prisoners of conscience from the group of Catholic and Protestant youth who were arbitrarily arrested in 2011, jointly denounce the Vietnamese communist authorities’ ongoing harassment and intimidation of former prisoner of conscience Tran Minh Nhat and his family.

Tran Minh Nhat, born in 1988, is a student at Ho Chi Minh University of Foreign Languages and Information Technology (HUFLIT). He has a passion for truth and justice, participating in protests against Chinese aggression and opposing bauxite mining in Tay Nguyen. He is an independent journalist and a contributor to the Vietnam Redemptorist News and Radio Alphonso. Tran Minh Nhat was arbitrarily detained on August 27, 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison and four years house arrest under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code because of his ideals and love for his country. Nhat was released on August 27, 2015.

Since his release, Tran Minh Nhat and his family have faced ongoing acts of intimidation and harassment from local authorities including the following incidents:

-       His house has been regularly stoned, causing considerable damage including broken windows and lights as well as leading to physical injuries and mental stress from the ongoing threats to the family. Most recently, during the eve and evening of this Lunar New Year, stones were thrown into the house, causing serious distress for Tran Minh Nhat’s family.
-       Authorities have continually sent people to destroy the family’s livelihood like, poison their livestocks and cause serious damage to the property and farmland that once had hundreds of coffee plants, avocado trees, and pepper vines. Lam Ha authorities in Lam Dong Province have ignored the family’s report of these incidences, and no proper investigation has been conducted.
-       At midnight on February 10, 2016, intentional fires were set to their fields near their house, causing the family much distress. Nhat’s home may have been burnt down if his family had not been able to discover the fire in time.
-       On November 8 and November 17, 2015, Tran Minh Nhat was physically attacked by security police in Dinh Van Police Station as well as on his way to a doctor. His family members are regularly threatened and harassed.

These acts of intimidation, threat, physical assault and arson over the past few months make life seem like a “Hell on Earth” for Tran Minh Nhat and his family. The family’s attempt to submit complaints to local authorities have not been resolved, and instead the harassment has only increased.

In the face of these brutal and very serious actions by Lam Ha local authorities in Lam Dong Province on Tran Minh Nhat’s family, we call upon Vietnamese people around the world, governments of free countries, international organisations and human rights groups to jointly condemn the Vietnamese authorities’ actions and call for the end to these inhumane crimes against Tran Minh Nhat’s family.

We also demand Hanoi authorities to properly investigate these matters and actions of Lam Ha security police in Lam Dong Province. We also demand for the outcome of these investigations to be publicised and proper prosecution of those who have abused the constitution and the law.

If these actions do not cease in the near future, it is a clear sign that the Hanoi authorities lack responsibility to protect basic human rights as stated in the constitution. This inaction from government authorities is also synonymous with the fact that the Hanoi authorities are tolerating these actions of harassment and intimidation.

We would like to thank all civil society organisations in Vietnam who have spoken up regarding these abuses committed by Lam Ha Security Police towards Tran Minh Nhat and his family.

We would like to thank all elected representatives, governments and organisations around the world who have expressed concern and condemned the acts of harassment by security police in Lam Dong Province aimed at intimidating Tran Minh Nhat and his family over the past few months.

We would also like to thank Vietnamese and foreign media news outlets that have reported on and raised awareness about  Tran Minh Nhat’s harassment by local authorities.

We hope various civil organisations and supporters inside Vietnam and around the world, elected representatives, governments and international organisations will speak up and work alongside with Tran Minh Nhat. This is so  we can bring an end to these inhumane actions Nhat and his family must suffer as well as a way for us to build together a Vietnamese society based on peace, justice and compassion.

Catholic youth activists and former prisoners of conscience

Co-signed by:
1.    Nguyen Xuan Anh
2.    Nguyen Dinh Cuong
3.    Dau Van Duong
4.    Thai Van Dung
5.    Nguyen Van Duyet
6.    Tran Huu Duc
7.    Dang Ngoc Minh
8.    Tran Minh Nhat
9.    Nguyen Van Oai
10.  Ho Van Oanh
11.  Nguyen Dang Vinh Phuc
12.  Chu Manh Son

13.  Le Van Son

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