07/05/2020 Vietnam (International Christian Concern) – The family of a political activist and pastor in Vietnam, who has been imprisoned for his promotion of democracy, was subject to violence and detention before and during U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink’s recent visit to their district in Thanh Hoa province.
The wife of pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for his involvement with the Brotherhood for Democracy dissident group, told Radio Free Asia that ahead of the ambassador’s visit, local police visited their home in Quang Xuong district.
“On June 26, officers from the Quang Yen commune police department came to my house, ordering all the family members not to go out of the home for the next few days,” said Nguyen’s wife Nguyen Thi Lanh.
While the police locked the gate surrounding the house on June 29, as Kritenbrink was arriving in Quang Xuong the next day, Nguyen Thi Lanh broke the locks the next morning so she could sell goods in the market. However, she was soon arrested and brought to the local police station.
When her son was on the way to meet her at the police station, he was attacked by two plainclothes. “My son was ambushed. They blindfolded and bludgeoned my son’s head with an electric baton, causing him injury,” said Nguyen Thi Lanh.
“A police officer took my son to a health clinic for treatment then brought him back to the Quang Yen police office for booking,” she added. Her son returned to the health clinic next day for more treatment. His face was swollen and has broken teeth.
An official at the Quang Yen police station told the family that the reason for the house arrest was because Ambassador Kritenbrink was visiting their district. The Vietnamese government takes no pleasure in seeing the U.S. government showing concerns to the families of prisoners of conscience. The brutal act against pastor Nguyen’s family was to deter such possibility from happening.
Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton has been imprisoned a few times for his activism for democracy and human rights in the last decades. In 2017, he was thrown in prison for 12 years for “activities aiming to overthrow the people’s administration.” Pastor Nguyen has continually been denied medical treatment despite a leg injury, kidney condition, and inflamed prostate. He has been tortured by prison officials and recently been moved further away from his home, making it challenging for his wife to visit him.