PARIS, 26 January 2013 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights strongly denounces the virtual kidnapping of Vietnamese blogger Lê Anh Hung and his internment in a mental institution in Hanoi.
At 10.15am on Thursday 24 January, six secret security agents came to the company in Hung Yen where Hung was working and told his boss they needed to see him about “matters concerning temporary residence papers”. They then forced him into their car and took him away without any explanation. He was later found to be interned in the “Social Support Centre No 2” in Ung Hoa, Hanoi, a centre for mentally ill. When friends tried to visit him on Friday, the head of the centre confirmed that he was there, but refused to let them meet him. He said that Hung’s mother had demanded his internment, and specifically told them that no one should be allowed to see him other than herself. Le Anh Hung’s mother denies ever making such a demand.
Le Anh Hung (centre, white shirt) at an anti-China demonstration in Hanoi (Photo: Facebook Nguyen Lan Thang)
Le Anh Hung, born in 1973, is known for his translations and blogs on political issues, especially for denouncing corruption and power abuse amongst top-level Communist Party and government officials. He has filed 70 complaints against leading figures such as Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and former Communist Party Secretary-general Nong Duc Manh, accusing them of corruption, drug dealing, arms trafficking and other serious crimes. In one Complaint filed on 6 June 2012, he accused Nong Duc Manh of conniving to secure the post of Deputy Prime Minister for Hoang Trung Hai, who he described as “a number one drug dealer, Mafia chieftain, murderer and traitor”. Le Anh Hung also participated in anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi. As a result, he has been subjected to repeated interrogations, threats and harassments by the Police.
“Detaining critics and dissidents in mental hospitals is a despicable tactic reminiscent of the Soviet Union era” said Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights. “Vietnam will clearly stop at nothing to stifle the voices of this young generation. The international community should condemn his kidnapping and detention and call on Vietnam to immediately set him free”.
Le Anh Hung may be detained under Ordinance 44 on “Handling of Administrative Violations” which empowers local Security Police and People’s Committee officials from the commune level upwards to arrest and detain citizens under “administrative detention” from 6 months to two years without any due process of law. Under Ordinance 44 (2002), people who “commit acts of violating legislation on security, public order and safety, but not to the extent of penal liability” (Article 1.3) may be detained without trial under house arrest (“probationary detention”), in “reformatories”, educational institutions, rehabilitation centres or “medical treatment establishments” (i.e. psychiatric hospitals).
The United Nations has repeatedly called on Vietnam to abrogate Ordinance 44 on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the provisions of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is a state party. However, Vietnam has ignored these recommendations, and continues to implement it to detain peaceful activists. Blogger Bui Thi Minh Hang was detained for five months in an “education centre” in Thanh Hoa last year under extremely harsh conditions. Pro-democracy activist Nguyen Trung Linh is interned in the Central Psychiatric Hospital in Hanoi.