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UBCV monk beaten by Police in Dong Nai Province

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PARIS, 19 June 2012 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS) – Buddhist monk Thich Quang Thanh, a member of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) was beaten by Police on Sunday 10th June in the southern province of Dong Nai. He was riding his motorbike on Highway 51 when he was intercepted by traffic Police for not wearing a helmet. Thich Quang Thanh apologized and prepared to pay the fine which is the usual punishment for this offence. Instead, the Police threw his motorbike into their van and punched the monk in the face. They called for reinforcements, and together a group of Policemen pinned the monk down on the ground. One beat him on the head and neck with a truncheon whilst another trampled on him, and another pressed his elbow in the monk’s mouth to stop him calling for help. Passersby who tried to intervene were roughly pushed away. Police then dragged Thich Thanh Quang into their van, handcuffed him and took him to the People’s Committee office in Phuoc Thai village where he was held for questioning for several hours and eventually released.

On June 12th, Thich Quang Thanh sent a letter to UBVC Patriarch Thich Quang Do protesting against this rough treatment of a peaceful citizen by police officials and asking the UBCV leader to take up his case.

Thich Quang Thanh after his beating by police Thich Quang Thanh after his beating by police

– Reports of Police assaulting and even firing on people for traffic offences are widespread in Vietnam, as well as growing cases of corruption. However, such incidents rarely lead to sanctions and journalists who expose them risk imprisonment themselves. Journalist Nguyen Van Khuong (Pen name Hoang Khuong), a reporter on the official Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, faces a prison sentence of six to thirteen years for writing a series of articles revealing bribes received by traffic police. Although his articles proved to be true and led to the arrest of one policeman, he was arrested in January 2012 and on 15 June 2012 the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Procuracy formally charged him for “offering bribes” under Article 289, paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code. Whilst he admitted offering a small bribe to a police officer to obtain evidence for his reports, his articles revealed the existence of rampant corruption amongst traffic police in Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces, documented by photos and first hand testimonies. This disproportionately heavy sentence demanded against Hoang Khuong reveals Hanoi’s draconian control of the media and the risks faced by investigative journalists in Vietnam who delve too deeply into the Party and state’s affairs.

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