Case History: Chu Manh Son
On 8 November 2015, human rights defenders Mr Tran Minh Nhat and Mr Chu Manh Son were arrested by the police in Dinh Van.
While being detained at the police station, they were beaten and assaulted.
Chu Manh Son is a student activist and had campaigned against China’s policy of the East China Sea and was detained for his activities in 2011. After serving a 30-month prison sentence for “propaganda against the state,” he was released in April 2014.
At approximately 6am on 8 November 2015, ten police officers stopped the car in which the human rights defenders were travelling in, in Dinh Van, as they were on the way to their homes in the Central Highlands province. Both men were then taken to the local police station.
While being detained at the police station, Tran Minh Nhat was accused of having violated his probation, however the human rights defender argued that he had reported to authorities that he would travel to Ho Chi Minh City to receive medical treatment. They accused him of communicating with a priest from the Catholic Redemptorist church, who, according to the police officers, is "a man against the state," and furthermore of receiving money to carry out subversive activities. During the interrogation, Tran Minh Nhat was subjected to punches in his abdomen by one police officer. Chu Manh Son was physically assaulted by the police officers before he was released.
Subsequently, they took Tran Minh Nhat to a People’s Committee Office in Da Don village, where the authorities gathered members of the communist National Front and Youth Union from the village. The gathered crowd criticized the actions of Tran Minh Nhat and tried to force him to write a letter admitting his wrongdoings, but the human rights defender refused. Later, at approximately 6pm, he was released.
Previously, in August 2015, Chu Manh Son was among those physically attacked by policemen and a number of unidentified individuals in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, in Vietnam, following a celebration to mark the release of Tran Minh Nhat.
On 29 August 2015, four human rights defenders were among those physically attacked by policemen and a number of unidentified individuals in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, in Vietnam, following a celebration to mark the release of human rights journalist Mr Tran Minh Nhat. Among those attacked were human rights defenders Ms Tran Thi Nga, Mr Truong Minh Tam, Mr Chu Manh Son and Mr Le Dinh Luong.
After his release in 2015, Truong Minh Tam spoke out about mistreatment and torture in Vietnamese prisons. Ms Tran Thi Nga is a women's rights defender and member of the independent movement Vietnam Women for Human Rights. Mr Le Dinh Luong has taken part in campaigns in support of imprisoned activists in Vietnam and actively uses social media to share information about human rights violations in the country.
On 28 August 2015, the celebration was hosted by Tran Minh Nhat, the released human rights journalist who works for the Vietnam Redemptorist News. He was arrested on 27 August 2011 and, following four years in prison, he returned home to begin his three years of house arrest.
On the morning of 29 August 2015, the human rights defenders and other guests boarded two buses from Tran Minh Nhat’s house in Da Don commune, Lam Ha district to travel back to Saigon and Da Lat city. At 9:30, half an hour after their departure, the buses were stopped in Duc Trong district, about 30 kilometres from where Tran Minh Nhat resides, and approximately 30 plain-clothes policemen and a number of unidentified individuals forced their way onto the buses and attacked and physically assaulted the human rights defenders, as well as other guests.
On the bus to Saigon, Le Dinh Luong was assaulted, along with two other guests. They suffered serious injuries to the face, head and body. On boarding the bus bound for Da Lat city, the perpetrators began to physically and verbally attack Tran Thi Nga. They subsequently dragged Truong Minh Tam off the bus and physically assaulted him. Chu Manh Son was pinned to the floor as two or three people attacked him and destroyed a number of his belongings, including his smartphone and Ipad.
The appeal of human rights defenders Mr Dau Van Duong, Mr Tran Huu Duc, and Mr Chu Manh Son took place in the People's Court of Nghe An on 26 September 2012.
The sentences of Dau Van Duong, who had been sentenced to 42 months in jail followed by 18 months' house arrest, and Tran Huu Duc, who had received a sentence of 39 months' imprisonment followed by 12 months' house arrest, were upheld. Chu Manh Son had his sentence reduced from 36 months' imprisonment to 30 months.
The hearing lasted less than four hours and only seven family members were permitted to attend the court proceedings.
There was a heavy police presence around the courthouse, with police officers starting to gather around 6 am and their number continuously growing until 8 am when the hearing began. According to eyewitnesses, a total of around 400 police officers were stationed outside of the courthouse, with approximately 150 officers preventing supporters of the three human rights defenders from gathering in the road. The remainder positioned themselves on the pavement on both sides of the road.
Front Line Defenders has been informed that at least 17 human rights defenders and observers, who were monitoring and documenting the progress of the trial, were briefly arrested by the police during the court hearing. They were held for questioning for close to four hours at the police stations of Vinh City before being released. Some of them were manhandled into police cars by police officers. The father of Chu Manh Son was reportedly hit with a baton by a police officer for no apparent reason in front of the courthouse where he had joined a peaceful gathering.
The appeal of human rights defenders Mr Dau Van Duong, Mr Tran Huu Duc, and Mr Chu Manh Son will begin in the People's Court of Nghe An on 26 September 2012 at 7:30 am.
On 24 May 2012, the three human rights defenders, who were involved in citizen journalism and had campaigned against human rights abuses and bauxite mining prior to their arrest, were all convicted of “conducting propaganda against the State” under Section 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code.
Dau Van Duong was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment, while Tran Huu Duc and Chu Manh Son were handed down sentences of 39 months and 26 months respectively.
On 24 May 2012, four Vietnamese human rights defenders active in the promotion of economic, social, and cultural rights in Vietnam received sentences for distributing pro-democracy leaflets.
Dau Van Dong was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment with one year probation, Tran Huc Duc was sentenced to three years and three months of imprisonment with one year probation, Chu Manh Son was sentenced to three years of imprisonment with one year probation, while Hoang Phong received a sentence of two years probation.
The trial took place at 7am on 24 May in the People's Court of Nghe An province. The human rights defenders were represented by three lawyers who only recently had access to their clients, whom they believe were convicted for handing out pro-democracy leaflets.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the four men, who were arrested in August and December 2011, had been charged with disseminating propaganda against the state. Hundreds of protesters reportedly gathered outside the Court to hear the decision.
Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing of the four defenders and calls on the authorities in Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally reverse the conviction, as it believes that they are being targeted solely as a result of their peaceful and legitimate human rights work.