Four Vietnamese Bloggers Assaulted While Covering News on Environmental Dispute



By Vu Quoc Ngu, Defend the Defenders

August 14, 2016


On August 13, four Vietnamese bloggers in the central province of Khanh Hoa were brutally attacked by a group of numerous unknown individuals while covering news on an environmental dispute in Ninh Hoa town.


The victims are Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Me Nam of Mushroom Mother), Bien Dinh Luat, Ton Nu Khiem Cung and Nguyen Ba Vinh. Ms. Quynh is well-known blogger and human rights defenders who won the 2015 Human Rights Defender of the Year of the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders.


On Saturday, the four activists went to in Ninh Ich village, Ninh An commune, Ninh Hoa town where local residents are suffering from the pollution caused by a waste treatment plant located around one kilometer away of the village.


On their way to the village, the bloggers were closely followed by individuals, one of them is recognized by the activists as a police officer in the Khanh Hoa provinceís Department of Police. On their return to Nha Trang city, a group of ten men attacked the bloggers, knocking them down from their motorbikes and beating them.


The attackers also took cell phones and cameras which the bloggers used for filming the disputed areas and interviewing affected villagers and threw them into a water canal.


Blogger Vinh said some of attackers used swords trying to kill him but he successfully avoided deadly acts.


The attackers left the scene soon after other peoples came to help the bloggers.  

The victims said they received numerous serious injuries on their bodies due to the assault and lost all cell phones and cameras. Blogger Cungís suitcase was robbed.

The assault happened one day after the authorities in Khanh Hoa sent hundreds of police officers, including heavily-armed mobile policemen to violently suppress the peaceful demonstration of Ninh Ich villagers who demand suspension of the waste treatment plant located near the village. Many people, including women and children, were reportedly beaten by police officers. Several villagers were detained by police on Friday.


The villagers said the plant built at costs of VND137 billion ($6.1 million) started operational one year ago. Located about one kilometer from the village, it has been emitting dust and heavily polluting the local environment.


Ninh Ich villagers complain that since the plant operations started, they have suffered from difficult breathing and skin rashes. They fear that the river from which they take water for daily use may be polluted with chemicals leaked by the plant which is located very near to the upper part of the river.


Blogger Quynh said her team tried to investigate whether toxic industrial waste is transferred to the plant. Recently, Vietnamís authorities have found that the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group, with help of many Vietnamese officials and companies, has dumped huge volume of very harmful industrial waste in Vietnamís sea water and many other places inland.


In addition to giving hard sentences to silence governmentís critics, Vietnamís communist government has also deployed security officers and plainclothes agents to assault political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders.


Since the beginning of this year, dozens of activists have been attacked in nearly 20 cases. Many of them have suffered from serious injuries and need long time for treatment and recovery.





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