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Vietnam - Human rights defender Mrs Tran Khai Thanh Thuy attacked and arrested on assault charges
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 is a novelist and journalist, member of banned pro-democracy group, 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. 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”.
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.
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;
Front Line, The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
81 Main St., Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Phone:+353 1 212 3750 Fax: +353 1 212 1001
Take action on behalf of human rights defenders at risk at http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/act