Vietnam Releases Christian Activist But Human Rights Lawyer Remains Detained

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- A Christian pro-democracy activist was released by Vietnamese authorities Tuesday, March 13, after spending over 12 hours in police custody, but the whereabouts of a human rights lawyer remained unknown, dissidents told BosNewsLife.

The anti-Communist 'People's Democratic Party' (PDD) said its member Tran Van Hoa, who the party described as "an active Christian" was released late Tuesday, March 13, hours after police detained him and raided his home in Quang Ninh province.

"On March 13, around 9:30 AM police came into Tran Van Hoa’s house" and they "seized Hoa’s computer, many personal documents and books given to Hoa by detained lawyer [and fellow human rights activist] Nguyen Van Dai," the ODD said. "Authorities took Tran Van Hoa away from home," before releasing him in the evening, the party added.

However a fellow human rights activist, Lawyer Le Quoc Quan’s, remained behind bars after "around 20 police" came to his house on Monday, March 12, in Nghe An province, the PDD said. "His whereabouts are unknown at this moment. Lawyer Quan just came back from Washington DC in the US where he participated in various seminars organized by National Endowment for Democracy," the party explained.


The group suggested that the lawyer was detained for his involvement in human rights issues. "Lawyer Le Quoc Quan has posted several written articles on the net promoting human rights and democracy."

It was also unclear how long Christian Hoa would remain free as he " has been constantly harassed, intimidated and victimized from through so called "public interrogation" by Quang Ninh authorities," the PDD claimed.

"Previously Hoa was arrested 13 days without charges prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. In addition of involving in democratic activities, Hoa is an active Christian who has gotten into troubles with local government by his religious practices."


Last Friday, March 9, high ranking Quang Ninh police officers allegedly sent Hoa threats, warning him he may risk imprisonment if he continues his PDP membership. Human Rights Watch has said that Vietnam is involved in the "worst crackdown" on dissidents, including Christians, "in 20 years."

The Vietnamese government has denied wrongdoing saying it only prosecutes those violating the law of the land. Human rights observers say however that while allowing some economic reforms the Communist Party sees the growing independent movements and churches as a threat to its powerbase. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos and reports from Vietnam).

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