(VOA) – A high-profile activist and his wife say they were attacked by police Feb. 24 in while on the way to the Australian Embassy to discuss Vietnam’s human rights, including previous police attacks on themselves and other dissidents.
Nguyen Bac Truyen (Nguyễn Bắc Truyển) says in an interview with VOA’s Vietnamese service that he and his wife were ambushed outside the Japanese Embassy.
“I was attacked by four plainclothes policemen on my way … to the Australian embassy,” said Truyen. “These men had been following me closely since I arrived at Hanoi. They suddenly stopped our taxi and attacked us without saying a word. They punched me and my wife on the face and brutally beat us.”
The activist says he recognized two of the attackers because they had been following him since his arrival in Hanoi last week. Photos published by Truyen on his Facebook page showed he was bleeding with a head injury, broken nose and swollen eyes. The couple managed to arrive at the Australian Embassy and the meeting took place as expected. They were then taken to a nearby hospital by Australian embassy personnel.
Vietnamese police in Hanoi have not commented on the allegations made by Truyen. He says he is in Hanoi to campaign for more international pressure on Vietnam to improve its human rights record.
He is scheduled to meet with officials at the U.S., EU, German and Swedish embassies in the next two days.
“We’d like to alert the world that when discussing political, economic or human rights issues with Vietnamese leaders, please make sure to have effective measures and pressure to make them respect human rights. Please be careful when shaking hands with the Vietnamese leaders since their hands are bloodied with violence against their own people,” he said.
Earlier this month, police raided his home in southern Dong Thap province and violently dragged him away. He was released the next day in Ho Chi Minh City. A group of friends arriving from Ho Chi Minh City to visit him were also attacked and arrested, including many prominent officials of the banned Hoa Hao Buddhist church.
Truyen was freed from prison in 2010 after a three-and-a-half-year jail term for ‘anti-state propaganda,’ for criticizing the government and calling for democracy in Vietnam.