Wife of Vietnamese Arrested Prominent Dissident Detained after Foreign Trip

Vietnam’s security forces on July 6 reportedly detained Vu Minh Khanh, the wife of arrested human rights lawyer and political dissident Nguyen Van Dai, when she returned from abroad where she sought international support for his release, local activists have said.

Mrs. Khanh, who went to the EU, the U.S. and other countries in April- July to lobby for her husband’s case, was believed to be taken in police’s custody upon her arrival to the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport from Bangkok.

She was said to take an Bangkok-Noi Bai international flight which was scheduled to land in the capital city of Hanoi at 1.45 PM. Passengers from the flight were checked out, however, she has not appeared, said activists who came to pick her up in the arrival terminal.

Dozens of activists have still been waiting for her for hours in the airport.

Vietnam’s security forces have detained many local activists for interrogation after they return from foreign countries. In some cases, they confiscated activists’ passports after hours of questioning in police station.

During her trip to the U.S., the EU, Australia and other countries, Mrs. Khanh met with many legislators, government officials and human rights organizations to call for their support for her husband’s freedom.

She also attended a number of hearings conducted by parliaments of the visited countries to report about the arbitrary detention of Mr. Dai and other Vietnamese activists who had bravely criticized the Vietnamese government policies in socio-economic issues.

Mr. Dai, former political prisoner, was arrested on December 16 last year and charged under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code for “conducting anti-state propaganda against the state.” His assistant, Ms. Le Thu Ha was also detained on the same day and faces the same allegation.

His re-arrest was made few months after his four-year house arrest ended. His detention was condemned by international human rights groups, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch, the London-based Amnesty International and the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders and many Western countries’ governments.

In January, 26 international organizations issued a joint statement calling for unconditional release of Mr. Dai and Ms. Ha.

Mr. Dai, lawyer in profession, was arrested in 2007, together with Le Thi Cong Nhan, another prominent dissident, for the charge of conducting anti-state propaganda. He was sentenced to four years in jail and additional four-year house arrest. He was released in 2011 but kept under house arrest until June last year.

After being freed four years ago, Mr. Dai continues his activities which aim to promote multi-party democracy and human rights in the communist nation. He formed the Brotherhood for Democracy and the Vietnam Center for Human Rights, which have attracted participation of hundreds of young activists nationwide.

Before being re-arrested, Dai had been a subject of harassment by police forces who keep constant surveillance on him. He was attacked several times by thugs, with the latest case occurred in the central province of Nghe An several days of the arrest. About 20 thugs with wooden bars brutally beat Dai and three fellows after they attended a meeting with local activists to mark the International Human Rights Day [Dec. 10].

The arrest of lawyer Dai is part of the intensified crackdown of Vietnam’s communist government against local dissidents and social activists. According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding 130 political prisoners.


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