Vietnam Arrests Buddhist Monk in Relation with Newly-established Pro-democracy Movement
By Defend the Defenders
November 22, 2016
Vietnamís security forces on November 16 arrested Phan Trung, a Buddhist monk from the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, in relation with the newly-established pro-democracy movement called the Coalition of Self-determined Vietnamese People, social networks have reported.
Nguyen Thien Nhan, a human rights activist and member of the unsanctioned Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) said on his Facebook page that Vietnamís authorities deployed around 40 police officers to the private residence of Mr. Trung in Duc Trong district and arrested him.
His family was not informed about his arrest. Five days later, when his relatives came to Duc Trong district police to ask about him, the police said he was arrested under the order of the Ministry of Public Security and in relations with the Coalition of Self-determined Vietnamese People.
Currently, Trung is under detention in Ho Chi Minh City, the police said.
Mr. Trung, 40, has become a Buddhist monk ten years ago. He has often participated in peaceful demonstrations against Chinaís violations of Vietnamís sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea). He has also publicly supported multi-party democracy and human rights enhancement, said a local pastor named Chen.
Trung is the third activist detained in relations with the Coalition of Self-determined Vietnamese People which vows to end the communistís political monopoly in Vietnam by peaceful means.
On November 6, security forces in HCMC arrested Luu Van Vinh and Nguyen Van Duc Do and many other activists. Several days later, they officially charged Vinh and Do with carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the peopleís administration under Article 79 of the countryís Penal Code.
Police released other detainees after torturing and interrogating them for their relations with the coalition.
The families of Vinh and Do have complained that the police brutally beat them upon the detentions and torture them in police custody.
If Mr. Trung is also accused of carrying out anti-state activities, he, like Vinh and Do, will be kept for four months at least in police detention without being allowed to meet with relatives and lawyers under Vietnamís rules.
On July 15, Vinh founded the Coalition for Self-determined Vietnamese People and became its first president. However, he left the coalition several days before being arrested.
Vinh was said to visit Trungís private residence in Lam Dong.
The arrests of Vinh and other activists are part of Vietnamís intensifying crackdown against local dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders amid increasing public awareness about the countryís socio-economic problems, including systemic corruption and widespread environmental pollution.
On October 10, Vietnam arrested prominent blogger and human rights activist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and, three weeks later, well-known blogger Ho Van Hai. The two bloggers were accused of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the Penal Code.
Vietnam has imprisoned around twenty activists and detained nearly ten others so far this year. In addition, hundreds of activists have been brutally tortured by police officers and assaulted by plainclothes agents.
Vietnamese communists have ruled the country for decades and strive to hold the country under a one-party regime. The security forces have been requested to prevent the establishment of opposition parties.
According to international human rights organizations, Vietnam holds between 80 and 130 prisoners of conscience.