03/03/2017, 14.16
VIETNAM
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Two Protestant clergymen abducted and beaten

A group of thugs intercepted, beat, and forced Nguyễn Trung Tôn and Nguyễn Việt Tú into a van. The abductors took them to a forest area where they stripped them, robbed and beaten with a metal bar. The victims were able to get home only with the help of locals who found them wounded and disoriented.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In late February, a group of thugs attacked Rev Nguyễn Trung Tôn (pictured), a Protestant clergyman, and his colleague, Rev Nguyễn Việt Tú, who were stripped, robbed and beaten with a metal bar. The attackers are thought to have been working for the police.

The two men were abducted in Ba Đồn (Quảng Bình province) where they had gone to meet other activists who had recently been subjected to police violence.

When they arrived at the airport at 9.30 am, Nguyễn Trung Tôn and the two were intercepted by a group of men who punched them and forced into a van.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA), Rev Tôn said that the kidnappers were security police in plain clothes.

After covering the victims’ heads, the kidnappers drove them to a remote forest area on Hương Khê mountain where they stripped them, robbed and beaten them with a metal bar.

The two clergymen managed to get back to one of the pastor's home only with the help of residents who found them wounded and disoriented.

Rev Nguyễn Trung Tôn is a pro-democracy activist, and a defender of religious freedom. He was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to two years for "activities undermining the State" and "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam" (art. 88 of the Criminal Code).

After his release, he was subjected to repeated harassments and intimidation by Security Police, including death threats against him and his family.

What happened to the two clergymen is indicative of an increasingly repressive and violent climate against all forms of free expression in Vietnam.

At a protest on 14 February, police attacked hundreds of Catholics in Nghệ An Province who were protesting against the environmental disaster caused by the Formosa Plastics Group.

"Vietnam ratified the UN Convention against Torture with great fanfare in 2015, but the base acts entrusted to police officers or hired thugs are blatantly acts of torture" said Võ Văn Ái, president of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR). "Vietnam must put an end to such practices and bring those responsible to justice".

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