Ho Chi Minh City ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of police officers and government officials fired on and raided the home of a Vietnamese dissident lawyer, who was arrested at the end of the blitz . The operation took place over the weekend, in conjunction with the heavy criticisms of the UN High Commissioner for systematic violations of human rights in the Asian nation, where forced detention, imprisonment and abuse of government critics as well as those of the Communist Party are the norm. Witnesses said Nguyen Bac Truyen, a former political prisoner, was surrounded, handcuffed, blindfolded and dragged away from the house of his girlfriend, Bin Thi Kim Phuong, in the southern province of Dong Thap.
The couple was in the woman's house preparing for their wedding which was to take place in the coming days. Police smashed windows, broke down the doors and destroyed the furnishings, in addition to confiscating the man's laptop and phone. He provides free legal assistance to victims of forced evictions, particularly in rural areas and has been fighting a long time for a multi- party democracy in a country still dominated by Communist ideology.
According to the judiciary, he is under investigation for alleged "theft of property" in the context of an ownership dispute. Activists of the U.S. NGO Freedom House report that was released after 24 hours of detention, but it is still "at risk arrest or personal attacks".
Between 2007 and 2010, Nguyen Bac Truyen was jailed along with two other people for breaching Article 88 of the Penal Code, the infamous and controversial paragraph that punishes those who "conduct propaganda against the state". Human rights activists and members of the press have repeatedly accused Hanoi of exploiting this law to "silence internal dissent". The three men were part of the Bloc 8406 movement which emerged in April 2006 and campaigns for the transformation of the country into a multi-party democracy. Released in May 2010, since then he has been constantly subjected to personal attacks and threats by the authorities.
The Vietnamese government has been pursuing a harsh campaign against dissidents, bloggers, religious leaders (including Buddhists), Catholic activists and entire communities. A clear example of this was seen last year in the diocese of Vinh, where national media and the government promoted a smear campaign and targeted attacks against the bishop and faithful. The repression also affects individuals guilty of claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.