By BosNewsLife News Center
HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- A prominent Mennonite pastor and his wife were recovering Sunday, March 11, from "brutal" beatings by Vietnamese security forces as part of a government crackdown on dissidents, a key activist told BosNewsLife.
On Thursday, March 8, police of Gia Ray province raided Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinhâ€™s house and "vandalized" his home and took him away to the local police station, said Cong Thanh Do, a pro-democracy advocate, who is also known as Tran Nam.
"Both Mr. Chinh and his wife were brutally beaten by the Gia Ray police. Mr. Chinh was released the next day but was continually summoned to the police station for questioning," he added.
In addition several other pro-democracy activists were harassed by police, Tran Nam explained. On Saturday, March 10, police in Hanoi "came into writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuyâ€™s house where they announced a search order and took away two computers, two cell phones and more than hundreds of written complaints filed by farmers," Tran Nam said.
At the same time "police in Hai Phong province summoned Mr. Cao Van Nham, a Regional Northern representative of the United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam (UWFO) to the local police station. [They] pressured him to give up his UWFO membership and human rights advocacy," he explained.
In Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, police allegedly threatened Do Nam Hai, also known as writer Phuong Nam, a well known dissident and leading member of the Alliance For Human Rights and Democracy. On Friday, March 9, security forces in Quang Ninh province also threatened Tran Van Hoa, a member of the anti-government Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party in Vietnam (PDP) to stop his activities,
Also on Friday, March 9, in Ha Tay province police "summoned Mr. Pham Van Troi, member of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam" ordering him to "denounce his human rights activities," Tran Nam told BosNewsLife.
The latest reports came on the heels of a report by US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemning the recent arrests of an outspoken Catholic priest and two human rights lawyers which it claimed was part of the "worst crackdown" on dissidents "in 20 years."
On March 6, police arrested lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan in Hanoi. Nguyen Van Dai, one of Vietnamâ€™s few practicing human rights lawyers, founded the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam in 2006. He recently received the prestigious Hellman/Hammett award for persecuted writers, which is administered by HRW.
Le Thi Cong Nhan, also a lawyer, has served as spokesperson for the 'Dang Thang Tien Vietnam Party' or 'Vietnam Progression Party', one of several opposition parties that have been created during the last year. She is known as a vocal champion of human rights, HRW said.
Earlier February 18, "dozens of police in Hue" raided the parish home of Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest and former prisoner of conscience, dissidents said. They reportedly also confiscated computers, telephones and more than 200 kilograms of documents. The authorities apparently moved him to a remote location, where he remains under house arrest.
Father Ly is one of the founders of 'Block 8406', a democracy movement launched in April 2006 when hundreds of people throughout Vietnam signed public petitions calling for democracy and human rights.
Human rights watchers say Vietnam has been "emboldened" by what it considers as "international recognition" after joining the World Trade Organization and hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. "Vietam's authorities have increased their terrorizing tactical pressures on the remaining Vietnamese dissidents," said Tran Nam.
The Vietnamese government has denied wrongdoing and says it only prosecutes those "violating the law." At least hundreds of dissidents, including hundreds of Christians, are believed to be imprisoned across Vietnam, a Communist-run nation, which has been under international pressure to allow more democratic and religious reforms. (With reporting from Vietnam).
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