Ngoc Nhi Nguyen (Danlambao) - This morning, 26/08/2014, at the People's Court in Cao Lanh, Dong Thap (address: No 1, Le Qui Don Street, Ward 1, Dist. Cao Lanh, Dong Thap Province), the hearing of Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh is due to start at 8 am.
More than a hundred of the 3 activists 's friends had traveled, some for days before hand, to come to attend the trial, from as far north as Ha Noi. However, almost all of them had been stopped, harassed, threatened, barricaded, and even beaten up and arrested by the police. The Vietnamese government is obviously too scared to allow its citizens to even come near the building housing the Court room, let alone allowing them inside to watch the proceed of the supposedly “open trial”.
Why is that? It is because all 3 people accused are actually innocent. They were wrongly arrested and unjustly charged with “ disturbing public order”. In fact, the whole arrest was planned out by the police, orchestrated by both the Central Police Department in Ha Noi as well as the local police office and the undercover security agency in Dong Thap. Evidences were planted and fabricated, the detainees were threatened and beaten up to force confessions and the accused were not allowed to see a lawyer or their families for months. All three were arrested and jailed since February 2014 until now, 6 months without a proper charge.
Bui Thi Minh Hang is a well known land rights and human rights activist. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh is her friend and also an activist herself for many years. Nguyen Van Minh is a Hoa Hao Buddhist practitioner whose family has been advocating for religious freedom for a long time and several members of his family had been in jail for this.
The police has had orders to try to stop people from leaving for Dong Thap since the beginning of last week. Many people were summoned to the local police stations for questioning and most were outright told not to go. Those managed to travel to Dong Thap had done so secretly, after successfully bypassing the surveillance of police and security personnel. Many were intercepted and stopped as they were boarding the plane, the boat or the bus.
Last night, a huge number of police officers, possibly in the thousands, surrounded the city of Cao Lanh, Dong Thap and searched the whole town high and low for those who had arrived. Those stayed in motels were quickly reported to the police and have their rooms searched. Their room door was then locked or chained so that they can not leave in the morning to go to the trial. The police even locked up those with young children, causing great concern about their health and safety.
Since early this morning, the police barricaded all entrances to the block where the Court is situated. Anyone trying to get pass would be stopped and asked to be searched and have their ids checked. Anyone taking photos had their phones or cameras confiscated. Many were arrested, put onto waiting police buses and taken away, unsure where to.
A group of Hoa Hao Buddhist practitioners arrived in their uniforms were stopped and told to go away. Several of them are actually witnesses of the arrest on the 11th February, but they were not allowed to go inside. When they refused to leave, some were beaten up by the police and others were taken away.
This is what the Vietnamese government, a member of the United Nations' Human Rights Council, calls an open trial!!
What a joke!! Shame on them!!