Vietnam convicts pro-democracy novelist of assault (Roundup)

5 02 2010


February 5, 2010

Hanoi – A Hanoi court convicted a pro-democracy writer and her husband of assault Friday in a case that has drawn condemnation from foreign governments and human rights organizations.

Writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, 49, was sentenced to 42 months in prison after a one-day trial. Her husband Do Ba Tan, 50, received 24 months’ house arrest.

The court ruled Thuy and Tan had assaulted two men on October 8. The couple said the men attacked Tan after an argument about the parking of his motorbike and Thuy came to his defence.

Human rights organizations have alleged the charges were retaliation against Thuy, a novelist active for years in Vietnam’s tiny pro-democracy movement.

Earlier on October 8, Thuy had attempted to attend the trial of a fellow democracy activist in the city of Haiphong but was stopped on the highway by police and ordered to return to Hanoi.

At Friday’s trial, prosecutors charged that after Tan exchanged blows with Nguyen Manh Diep, 41, his wife hit Diep over the head with a stick and threw a small cinder block at him.

Thuy said Diep attacked her husband without provocation and she hit Diep’s companion Nguyen Van Thinh, 51, on the arm by accident. Thuy and Tan were questioned overnight by police after the altercation and arrested on October 9. Police released a datemarked digital photo they said showed a bloody Diep being treated at hospital.

Analysis of the digital photo showed the datemark had been inserted with image-editing software while file data suggested it had been edited before the altercation took place.

Thuy is a novelist and essayist who in 2006 helped found an association for people with land claims against Vietnam’s government. In 2007, she was imprisoned for nine months, and she has continued to complain of harassment.

Human rights groups have called for her release as have six members of the US Congress.

Vietnam has arrested scores of democracy activists, independent writers and bloggers in a recent crackdown on dissent. None of the more than a dozen trials over the past year have resulted in an acquittal.

Letter of a daughter to her parents

1 02 2010

Montpellier, France, February 1, 2010

My dearest parents,

Once again, I am writing to you to express all my love and most of all, to share my deepest concern on your upcoming court trial. The accusations are ridiculous and I am so afraid that the verdict has already been predetermined. Like many previous trials, it is often closed door and the accused would have no chance of defending themselves.

Mum and Dad, you are being charged of “assault and harming others” yet I have witnessed so many occasions where our family has been subjected to threats and abusive behavior by government hired thugs; and our house was constantly raided by police.

Neither of you were ever retaliated to these attacks.

You prefer to use your pen to tell the truth. You use your beautiful words to depict the injustice created by a society where it is poisoned by a corrupted system and a dictatorship regime. On that dreadful October 8th day, I already sensed that you will receive a harsh sentence, when they forced you to come to the police station even though you were bleeding and bruised from being assaulted.

I am quite anxious of your safety because of the recent escalation in crackdown conducted by the Vietnamese government. Unfair trials and imprisonment of peaceful activists become a norm in recent time.

Catholics protest because they can no longer bear the endless illegal confiscation of church property; and lawyers who often make a mockery of the legal system.

I am worried but be assured that I will not lose faith. I believe that persistent pressure and firm critics from the international community will contribute to exert change, especially if these gestures are amplified by international media outlets.

I promise you that I will do my best to appeal to the French government and to make it known to the international community of your trial because your trial represents every ordinary Vietnamese citizen who longs for true freedom and democracy.

Please be brave as you have always been and I shall to, because we believe in the truth and some day justice will prevail and democracy will succeed.

From your loving daughter that lives so far away and who deeply regrets for not being able to be at your side in such time of need.

Lots of kisses.

Do Thuy Tien

Trial documents against Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

30 01 2010

Novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was arrested on October 8, 2009 after attending the trials of fellow democracy activists. The Vietnamese government staged an attack against her and her husband and then charged the couple with assault.

Authorities tried to support the assault charges by publishing the picture of an alleged victim. This photo, published on government newspapers, was later proven to be a fake by Vietnamese bloggers.

Ms. Thuy has been detained since October while her husband, Do Ba Tan, has been under virtual house arrest.

Following are translations of 1/ the indictment against Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and Do Ba Tan and 2/ the decision to bring the case to trial. The court proceeding will take place in Hanoi on February 5, 2010 (the original trial date was postponed).

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy Court decision

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy Indictment

3 US Congressmen to Vietnamese PM: release Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

29 01 2010

January 29, 2010

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung
c/o Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street NW #400
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Prime Minister Dung:

We are writing to express our utmost concern for the wellbeing of writer and democracy activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, detained since 8 October 2009.

It has come to our attention that Ms. Thuy, suffering from tuberculosis and diabetes, was unfairly arrested for her peaceful expression and is currently without access to the urgent medical attention she desperately needs. The gravity of this situation brings our deepest worries for the safety and health of Ms. Thuy.

We urge the Government of Vietnam to allow Ms. Thuy familial visitation so that she can be provided with the necessary medication. We seek your urgent response in providing Ms. Thuy with full access to all proper and necessary care.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is an honorary member of English PEN, as well as recipient of the 2007 Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award and the 2009 Vietnamese Human Rights Award.

In the spirit of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which your country is a signatory, we urge the Government of Vietnam to act upon its international human rights commitments and release Ms. Thuy from prison.





Royce_Smith_Cao letter about Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

Members of Congress: Release Pham Thanh Nghien and Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

28 01 2010

January 28, 2010

His Excellency Nguyen Minh Triet
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
c/o Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20 Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036

Dear President Triet:

We are writing to convey our serious concern regarding the detention and upcoming trials of Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, two prominent human rights activists. We request that the Vietnamese government act in a manner consistent with its own legal obligations and international law, and release these individuals immediately and without prejudice.

Based on information from the U.S. Department of State and international human rights organizations, it appears that the charges against Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy are seriously flawed. Both women have consistently championed human rights in Vietnam, including freedom of expression and association. For those activities, they are now facing possible prison sentences.

Our understanding is that Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien is scheduled to go on trial this Friday, January 29, 2010 for “propagandizing against the state.” She was reportedly arrested by Vietnamese security officials in September 2008 and we have been told that her family has not been allowed to visit her in prison since her arrest.

We understand that writer and activist Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, who attempted to attend the trials of other democracy activists, is facing trial on February 5, 2010. She has reportedly had no contact with her family since her detention in October 2009. In addition, there has been no confirmation that medications supplied to the police to treat her diabetes and tuberculosis have been delivered.

According to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a party, all citizens enjoy freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right of association. Both your Constitution and the ICCPR also guarantee criminal defendants the presumption of innocence, the right to present a defense and the right to counsel. The imminent trials of Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy appear to starkly contradict these principles.

We therefore respectfully request that the Vietnamese government immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and that while in detention, authorities take all measures to guarantee their physical and psychological security and well being, including access to medication and independent medical assistance and visits from family and friends.

Universal rights must be upheld for all people. It is time for Vietnam to allow its citizens to fully exercise the internationally recognized rights of freedom of assembly, expression, association and religion without fear of retribution from their government.

We thank you in advance for your assistance with this important and time sensitive matter.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Loretta Sanchez
Member of Congress

Zoe Lofgren
Member of Congress

Sanchez_Boxer_Lofgren letter about TKTT and PTN

Australian Senator Urges Vietnam to set example as chair of ASEAN in 2010 on human rights record

27 11 2009

President Nguyen Minh Triet
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Hoang Hoa Tham
Ha Noi

Ref: PJ – NGUY

Dear Mr President,

I am writing this letter to express my concern at the recent trials where nine democracy activists were sentenced to jail.

These include poet Tran Duc Thach, High school teacher Vu Hung, Engineer Pham Van Troi, Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, university student Ngo Quynh, former communist party member Nguyen Manh Son, essayist Nguyen Van Tinh, land rights activist Nguyen Van Tuc, and electrician Nguyen Kim Nhan. Their sentences range from two to six years of imprisonment.

These activists were criminalised for their exercise of the freedom of speech which is supposedly protected by the Vietnamese Constitution. This is a clear violation of the international covenants on human rights to which Vietnam is a signatory. Of a particular concern is the case of writer and human rights activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy. I was informed that Thuy and her husband were assaulted and arrested by plain clothes policemen while traveling to support the above activists on trial. I have learnt that since being detained, Ms Thuy’s health has deteriorated with worsening diabetes and heart conditions due to poor medical care whle in prison.

I am therefore quite concerned about her well-being and seeking your assistance to intervene by ensuring an impartial investigation into the maltreatment of Ms Thuy and her family. I also urge you to immediately release ali imprisoned human rights activists as Vietnam is about to chair ASEAN in 2010 and therefore must set a positive example in protecting human rights and promoting free speech.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Humphries
Senator for the ACT

25 November 2009


Letter to Secretary Clinton from relatives of Vietnamese prisoners

10 11 2009

Thu gui ClintonRe: Request for the U.S. State Department to intervene on behalf of prisoners of conscience during the Human Rights Dialogue with Vietnam

Vietnam – November 6, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
United States Secretary of State

Dear Madame Secretary:

We have been informed that the United States and Vietnam will hold a human rights dialogue in Washington D.C. on November 9, 2009.

At this meeting, we hope you will call on the Government of Vietnam to release all prisoners of conscience, including our relatives who have been arbitrarily arrested and unjustly convicted.

1/ The nine individuals who faced trials from October 6-9, 2009 include:

  • Poet Tran Duc Thach, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Teacher Vu Hung, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Engineer Pham Van Troi, sentenced to 4 years in prison and 4 years probation.
  • Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, sentenced to 6 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • University student Ngo Quynh, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Van Tinh, sentenced to 3 years 6 months in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Manh Son, sentenced to 3 years 6 months in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc, sentenced to 4 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Kim Nhan, sentenced to 2 years in prison and 2 years probation.

These are patriotic citizens who have campaigned peacefully for freedom, democracy and human rights for Vietnam—rights clearly spelled out in the Vietnamese constitution. Yet they were jailed, trialed, and treated in an inhumane manner.

Since their arrest and during the trials, they protested the baseless charges of the Vietnamese communist government and court. All have agreed to appeal the sentences and to condemn the unjust convictions.

As part of his protest, teacher Vu Hung, currently held at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, has waged a continuous hunger strike since he was brought to court on October 7th. On November 6th, his family was permitted to visit and was told that his weight had fallen to 30 kilograms. Although prison guards carry him and his health has been significantly weakened, he is determined to continue the hunger strike to protest the conviction and affirm his innocence. He intends on continuing the strike for 100 days. It is unclear how his health will hold out.

Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc, held at prison camp B14 in Hanoi, currently suffers from severe back-pain causing numbness to both arms. He has heart pains and hemorrhoids leading to loss of blood. His family is deeply concerned for his health but have not been allowed to visit him or receive any information on his condition since October 11, 2009.

2/ In addition to the nine individuals who were recently trialed, we raise the case of novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy. Because of her support for these democracy activists, security police stopped her from attending the trial in Hai Phong and later staged an assault in which she was arrested for assaulting another person. She was arrested on October 8 and is currently detained at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi. She suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure but prison authorities have denied repeated attempts by family to provide her with medication.

3/ Finally, we note the case of Pham Thanh Nghien, 32 years old. She was arrested in September 2008 and has been detained without trial at Tran Phu prison in Hai Phong. She has health problems and has not been allowed a single family visit.

Madame Secretary, we urgently call for your intervention, to request the Government of Vietnam to consider immediately releasing all the above individuals. That they were jailed solely for promoting human rights is outrageous. To let these citizens, who cherish freedom, justice and national independence, to die from a hunger strike or illness is inhumane.

Thank you for your attention.

Signed jointly,

  • Mr. Nguyen Van Duong, brother-in-law of poet Tran Duc Thach
  • Mrs. Ly Thi Tuyet Mai, wife of teacher Vu Hung
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang, wife of engineer Pham Van Troi
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nga, wife of writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia
  • Mr. Ngo Quyen, brother of university student Ngo Quynh
  • Mrs. Duong Thi Hai, wife of Mr. Nguyen Van Tinh
  • Mrs. Bui Thi Re, wife of Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc
  • Mrs. Ngo Thi Loc, wife of Mr. Nguyen Kim Nhan
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Loi, mother of Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien
  • Mrs. Le Thi Thanh Phong, mother of novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

Congressional letter to Hanoi PM on Tran Khai Thanh Thuy arrest

10 11 2009

Sanchez_Wolf_LofgrenNovember 4,2009

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung
c/o Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street NW #400
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Prime Minister Dung:

We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding the recent arrest of writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, as well as the sentencing of nine democracy activists.

As you are aware, from October 6th – 10th, nine activists were convicted and sentenced to prison for violating Vietnamese anti-propaganda laws. After expressing her support for the activists, Mrs. Thuy was beaten and arrested. This comes within weeks of Vietnam’s recent Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations, in which the country rejected proposals to allow public dissent and to release peaceful prisonels. We are extremely concerned about what appears to be an increase in human rights violations in a country we have already expressed concern about numerous times.

We would like to hear from you directly regarding these convictions and the arrest of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy. Specifically, we would like to know why these individuals have been arrested and jailed when it appears that they were merely peacefully expressing their right to free speech. We look forward to your timely response.


Zoe Lofgren
Member of Congress

Loretta Sanchez
Member of Congress

Frank Wolf
Member of Congress


Voicing organized attacks on the Victim – the spouse of writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

2 11 2009

Do_Ba_Tan-Tran_Khai_Thanh_ThuyReport of events occurring on October 8, 2009 in which two strangers attacked the victims

Events Report

Respectfully Addressing To:

District Attorney of Hanoi People’s City
Director of Public Security of Hanoi
City Attorney of Dong Da District, Hanoi

My name is Do Ba Tan, born in 1959, residing at 46, alley 178, Kiêm Thiên street, Trung Phung ward, Dong Da district, Hanoi.

I would like to report herein what actually happened at 20 hours 20 of October 8, 2009 involving events that occurred in front of my home (46, next to 38, alley 178, Kiêm Thiên street).

At the time I just made it back from ordering porridge for my wife, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy who has been ill.

When approaching home, I noticed a presence of a large number of security agents (almost 14, 15 in numbers). As I was walking into my house, one of the agent from the group asked: “What the heck are you looking at?”, to which my response was: “Would I not have the right to look at people?”

I then have my motorcycle stood on its stand next to my neighbor’s home, Thang, right opposite to my home, where traffic rarely exists. Please note this fact with my assertion that the motorcycle was not placed in the middle of the road as the state publicity described. When I attempted to get the gate open, one of the strangers came by and said: ”Are you parking your motorcycle in the middle of the road like this, bastard?”. As I was still astonished by the statement, he started punching at my stomach. I explained that I had to open the gate before I could get the motorcycle in. At the time there was another guy joined in to hit me and they kept punching at my stomach, my chest, my face and my head. This caused significant discomfort to the degree that I felt like they must have hit me with hard objects. They used a 3.5- 4.00 cm sized flash light and the safety helmet I left in the motorcycle to hit me. At this point, I called out for help.

I saw that my neighbors came out to watch the assault. More surprising was the fact that the security agents stood nearby without even breaking up the attack, which is a part of their very basic duty for citizens.

It took some time before my wife could open the gate attempting to help me from the siege and while they were still throwing punches at me, my wife attempted to intervene, which was then thrown against the wall. In self protection, my wife picked up a piece of rock, normally was there for the cable guard. But as soon as she got the rock, one of these guys forcefully removed from my wife’s hand and hit her with it. She felt the pain in her head. As soon as she shouted of the pain, I noticed the blood coming out from the wound, pouring down her hair, her shoulder, and soon the floor was filled with the blood from the wound she had received. To disperse them, my wife picked up a piece of wood making threats. At that time I became aware that the tall man who hit my wife was the same man that hit me when I opened the gate. The crowds dispersed, which enabled me to pass on the porridge I brought home to her. As soon as she held it on her hand, one of them threw himself kicking it away from her hand. When my wife ran into inside our home for safety, he then said ”If you dare, you could come out here.” Then followed that: ”Tomorrow I will have an HIV infected shot for your early departure.” Yet, it was portrayed in the local mainstream media that he was hit hard which required ambulance for the hospital attention. How was that possible?

I would then have to ask them to allow me to bring my motorcycle into my home.

Once inside our home, we were concerned of how we could get to the hospital. I used a clean towel to stop the blood pouring from the wound.

My mother-in-law, Mrs. Lê Thị Thanh Phong was there visiting us, witnessed her daughter being hit in such a ravage manner.

About 15 minutes later, we were visited by Mr. Tran Viet Dung, Village Public Security Head, accompanied by a number of public security officers, and a score of District public security also were at hand. At their request, we let them in and while they were there, we asked if we could have permission to get my wife to the hospital to treat her wound. Mr. Tran Viet Dung indicated that: “Would you come out to the station so that I could issue you a hospital movement order?”

We were in the station about 3 minutes later. This is in complete contrast with the publicity by the mainstream media including Dan Tri, An Ninh Thu Do, Cong An Nhan Dan, and Lao Dong, claiming that for hours the government officials were not allowed to enter our house. There was never a time when I raised my voice loud voice to these officials as so portrayed in their articles.

We were at the station at 10 minutes to 21 hours and waiting… We requested to meet with and was allowed for the treatment by Mr. Dung. However here Mr. Dung changed his voice saying that ‘would you complete the report before I could issue the hospital treatment order?’. Then I noted that there are a score of public security officers from Dong Da District and the people were coming in and out for some sort of meeting upstairs. It took us to 2:00 past mid-night before the investigation started to have us reporting what happened at our home, a time lasted more than 5 hours since we arrived at the station.

We requested to confront with the offenders for a cross-exam of the facts we were about to present, but our request was ignored. I then requested directly with Mr. Tran Viet Dung for an opportunity to meet with the offenders, but Mr. Dung then said: “No, we have to interview them upstairs!.”

“We then overheard that someone claimed they were seriously injured requiring the hospitalization.” This is a statement from those who attacked us. So, upon hearing of such statement, we then protested the facts that this could not have happened. The facts were reversed of what actually happened. How could we ever fight back with such a large group, who were there with a predetermined purpose was to assault us. They planned it out, and they carried it out so well within their full control, so how could any of them ever gotten wounded to the point of needing the hospital treatment?

I began to understand the matters and became wonder: My wife and I were assaulted, victims of crime, yet they now attempted to fabricate the facts indicating we were the criminal offenders against these people, the very people that came to attack us.

Around 7:00 a.m on October 9, 2009, both my wife and I were interviewed and were searched to record evidence of wound. At this point all the officers were well in uniforms armed with camera.

Around 10:00 a.m, I was escorted home so that they could search our home. They read the search order with the reason of charge: “Unlawful Battery”. At this time, my wife was still at the station. I have asked that my wife was the victim of crime and because of that should she not be here to witness the search? They responded:” Only your presence is sufficient.” Upon the District Public Security Officer reading the home search order for purpose of supporting of the charge: “Unlawful Battery”, I protested at a strongest term because me and my wife were the victims of this criminal assault.

I protested the clear misrepresentation of fact created by the government officials, to which agent Thang explained that dispute could be made at the court. I refused to sign the search order. The three cameras and the two recorders were in full swing recording in support of this fabrication.

I then was led back to the station to continue with the process they planned.

Around 11:00 I was allowed back to be with my wife, as guarded by the public security officer. It was worthy to note that after a whole night without sleep, without food we both were tired. The wound of my wife, with bloodshed in her head, hair, clothes were not allowed attention. Although we were not allowed to have the process completed for us to be home, they kept assuring that we would be home in not too long.

It seems far longer when time goes by. It was astonishing when at 1:00 we were placed in handcuff, and an agent laughed saying: “now you are going to the hospital for treatment.” We were led into the temporary detention at the district detention.

At home, none of our family members knew what happened. Our daughter brought meals visiting us, at which time she was told that we were transferred to a temporary detention at the district. For my part, I tried to bring the words home that my wife’s mom needed to help us watching over our home while we are detained here.

To around 17 hours 00 on October 12, 2009, I received a seizure-stop order signed by Lieutnant-Colonel Nguyen Van Thanh, Deputy Chief of the Police Unit.

Upon return I read articles from Bao An Ninh Thu Do, Bao Cong An Nhan Dan, Bao Lao Dong, va Bao Mang Dan Tri, where facts were completely in reverse to the laughing point. The newspapers do not carry the work of a reporting journalist. True facts never existed nor they were ever needed in newspapers.

The above was what happened to the best of our knowledge. We were kept in detention for the crime that we are the victim of, and are the victim of the government using the crime as the very means to strengthen its existence.

Not only we were the victims, purposely not protected by the government whose duty was to protect its innocent people like us, we are never the crime offenders for which our government made it out to be using the very crime that we were victims of to clamp down upon our shoulders.

We urgently request an investigation from the District Attorney of Hanoi City, Director of the Public Security Service of Hanoi, Public Security Chief of Dong Da District for the truth to come out.

Please restore the honor of my wife Tran Khai Thanh Thuy.

Hanoi, October 15, 2009.

Do Ba Tan

Vietnam: Human rights defender Mrs Tran Khai Thanh Thuy attacked and arrested on assault charges

31 10 2009


On 19 October 2009 human rights defender, Mrs Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was reportedly moved to iHoa Lu prison, Hanoi, following her arrest on 8 October on charges of assault. Members of her family have reported that she was the victim of an assault at the hands of police agents, and that the photograph used as evidence against her has been doctored.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

Further Information

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is a novelist and journalist, member of banned pro-democracy group Bloc 8406, and an honorary member of English PEN, which works to promote literature and human rights. In 2007 Tran Khai Thanh Thuy received the Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award.

On 8 October 2009, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was arrested while travelling to support six other activists on trial for hanging pro-democracy banners and peacefully expressing their opinions on government policies through internet essays and writings. About 10km from Hai Phong City, the police stopped her car and arrested her. After several hours of detention, she was released to her home at approximately 4 pm, and told that she could not leave her house. At approximately 8.30 pm that evening, there was a disturbance at her home, caused by two individuals, allegedly plain-clothes police officers. As they were unable to identify the individuals as police officers, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and her husband, Mr Do Ba Tan, screamed and tried to defend themselves in front of their 13 year-old daughter, but Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was hit with bricks and suffered an injury to the top of her head. Police officers stationed outside the house did not intervene.

After going to the hospital, the couple were arrested and taken to the police station in Dong Da district, Hanoi. While in detention, the state media circulated a story of the arrest which claimed that the couple had been responsible for an assault on a neighbour. Police Colonel Vu Cong Long, Dong Da district police chief, stated that Do Ba Tan “left his motorbike to block the paths” on their street, and that when the neighbour suggested he move it, an argument ensued in which Do Ba Tan “used his helmet to beat his neighbour in the face”. In addition, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was accused of hitting his neighbour with a brick during the argument. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is now facing assault charges of “intentionally causing injury”, which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. Do Ba Tan was released on 12 October and the police stated that they will not bring changes against him. Her family report that Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was moved to Hoa Lu prison in Hanoi on the morning of 19 October.

However, sources point out inaccuracies in the claims which are not substantiated by the evidence provided by the authorities. In particular, details embedded in a digital photograph of the neighbour’s injuries have shown that the picture was taken on 28 February 2005 and that the provider of the picture had used Photoshop software to change the date of the images to that of 9 October 2009. In addition, the person in the photograph has not been proved to be the neighbour, although Colonel Vu Cong has referred to him as the “victim”.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy has been subject to ongoing harassment by the Vietnamese authorities. On 7 October 2009 Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was denied access to the Hanoi courthouse to attend the trial of teacher Vu Hung, despite the announcement by the authorities of a “public trial” for the proceedings. Police backed down after the intervention of foreign embassy representatives present at the court. In April 2007 she was arrested at her home and later sentenced to nine months’ and ten days imprisonment for “disturbing public order”. She was released on 31 January 2008. In October 2006 she was publicly denounced and humiliated during a trial in the “People’s Court” organised by the authorities. She and her family are subject to police surveillance and ongoing harassment – for example, her home has been attacked by thugs, allegedly hired by the police, and she and her family have received threatening phone calls.

Front Line believes that the arrest, imprisonment and harassment of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is directly related to her work in the defence of human rights in Vietnam. Front Line sees this as part of a pattern of ongoing harassment against Tran Khai Thanh Thuy as a human rights defender. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy suffers from diabetes and advanced tuberculosis, and was refused adequate medical care during her previous time in prison. Front Line is thus seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy.

Front Line urges the Vietnamese authorities to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, as Front Line believes that she is being held solely as a result of her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, and carry out an immediate and impartial investigation into the harassment and intimidation of her with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, whilst in detention, adheres to all those conditions set out in the “Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by General Assembly Resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990”;

3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and her family including providing her with access to independent medical assistance, as well as guaranteeing her husband the right to prison visits, in order to provide the required medication for his wife;

4. Revise national security provisions in the Penal Code, including in particular Article 88, and bring them into compliance with international standards;

5. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Vietnam are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.