Viet Nam: Authorities must protect activist from mob attacks

Authorities in Di Linh town must take immediate action to ensure the safety of labour rights activist Do Thi Minh Hanh, after mobs wielding rocks attacked her family home three times over the past two weeks, said Amnesty International.

Do Thi Minh Hanh, a member of the Lao Dong Viet movement which advocates for labour rights in Viet Nam, was first attacked on the evening of 24 June, when around a dozen men began throwing rocks at her family home. The house was attacked again on 27 June, when explosive devices were also thrown, and on 30 June, in the most violent incident to date. The attacks caused extensive damage, breaking glass and roof tiles and damaging furniture.

Despite several calls to the police, nobody has yet turned up to assist her and her 76-year-old father.

“It’s outrageous that the police are abdicating their responsibility and allowing these attacks to happen without taking any action. Human rights defenders such as Do Thi Min Hanh must be able to carry out their peaceful work without harassment or violence,” said Minar Pimple, Senior Director of Global Operation at Amnesty International.

“These disturbing incidents pose a serious threat to Do Thi Minh Hanh’s safety and have left her and the family fearing for their lives. The authorities of Di Linh town must take urgent steps to protect her before the situation deteriorates further.

“The attacks, which are becoming increasingly violent, are likely motivated by Do Thi Minh Hanh’s high-profile activism – this must not be used by authorities as a reason to turn a blind eye. Local police must ensure that measures are immediately put in place to protect Do Thi Minh Hanh and Vietnamese authorities must launch an investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”

Background

Do Thi Minh Hanh recently moved back to her home at Di Linh town, Lam Dong province, to take care of her elderly father. Both Do Thi Minh Hanh and her father were at home during all three attacks. She phoned the police following the attack on 24 June and again on 2 July, but has still not been visited by any officers or received any return calls.

On 27 June, blogger Dinh Van Hai visited Do Thi Minh Hanh’s house. On his way home, he was stopped and beaten by local thugs, resulting in a broken right arm and shoulder. 

In 2006, Do Thi Minh Hanh co-founded the United Workers-Farmers Organization (UNFO) an independent union to promote better pay and adequate workplace safety.

In October 2010 she was handed a seven-year sentence for ‘disrupting national security’ under the 1999 Penal Code. She was suddenly released in June 2014, after spending four years and four months in prison.