Vietnamese Blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi Sexually Assaulted by Police

Posted on January 9, 2013

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“They asked me to be obedient and cooperate but I refused. They coercively carried me and put me on a table, they restrained my arms and my legs then proceeded to strip me naked. I resisted with all the force that I have left to fight back; a few times I kicked some of them to the wall. I scratched their hands, pulled their hair, but the strength of one was no match for the four of them combined. In the end they stripped me naked. They placed their hands in my vagina. I felt hurt both physically and mentally.” 

A Vietnamese blogger was allegedly sexually assaulted by police officials after being taken into custody on suspicion of hiding “illegal exhibits” on her body.

Nguyen Hoang Vi, who recounted the assault on the Danlambao collective blog, claimed that police officials beat and stripped her before ordering state nurses to conduct a vaginal cavity search against her will.

Blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi

Blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi

The country’s crackdown on dissident bloggers peaked last September whenthree online activists were jailed for between three and 12 years for “anti-state propaganda” in cases highly criticised by human rights groups as well as US president Obama.

The bloggers, including prominent netizen Nguyen Hoang Hai aka Dieu Cay who belong to the independent Free Journalists Club, were arrested in April for posting articles criticising the government.

On 28 December, Nguyen was arrested and detained outside the courthouse where the appeals of the three bloggers were to be heard.

Police officers videotaped other officers as they violently removed Nguyen’s clothes.

State nurses initially refused to conduct the vaginal search because of her injuries but eventually relented.

“They asked me to be obedient and cooperate but I refused,” she wrote. “They carried me and put me on a table, restrained my arms and my legs then proceeded to strip me naked.

“I resisted with all the force I had left to fight back; a few times I kicked some of them to the wall. I scratched their hands, pulled their hair, but the strength of one was no match for the four of them combined. In the end they stripped me naked.

“They placed their hands in my vagina. I felt hurt both physically and mentally.”

Danlambao, to which Nguyen is a frequent contributor, has been targeted by the Vietnamese government for “reducing the people’s trust in state leadership”.

In September, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued an order banning state employees from accessing the blog.

“I want to let you know that while it is true that violence and your vile acts may cause people to surrender before you, that only works for the weak,” she wrote. “With people like me those acts only strengthen my spirit and my determination.

“In a way, I am glad that you have done those acts; because for any social change, it would also come with losses, and sacrifices,” she continued. “What you have done shows me the signs of real changes that will come and they will come very soon.  And violence will kill criminals like you.”

I.B. Times

Vietnamese blogger reports sexual assault by officials

Vietnam’s crackdown on independent bloggers hit a new low in recent days with reports of sexual violence perpetrated by state officials against a prominent online reporter.

In a disturbing first person account posted Friday to the Danlambao collective blog, Nguyen Hoang Vi detailed how police officials beat and stripped her and ordered state nurses to conduct a vaginal cavity search while she was in custody on December 28 in Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward.

According to her defiant recollection of the assault, police officers said they suspected she had hidden “illegal exhibits” on her body and videotaped other officers as they violently removed her clothes. State nurses, after initially refusing, forcibly conducted the search. Vi writes in her blog entry:

“They asked me to be obedient and cooperate but I refused. They coercively carried me and put me on a table, they restrained my arms and my legs then proceeded to strip me naked. I resisted with all the force that I have left to fight back; a few times I kicked some of them to the wall. I scratched their hands, pulled their hair, but the strength of one was no match for the four of them combined. In the end they stripped me naked. They placed their hands in my vagina. I felt hurt both physically and mentally.”

Vi was initially detained in front of the courthouse that was scheduled that day to hear the appeals of imprisoned bloggers Nguyen Van Hai, Ta Phong Tan, and Phanh Thanh Hai.  The three bloggers, charged in part for the joint founding of the unsanctioned Free Journalists Club of Vietnam, were sentenced to harsh prison terms in September for conducting propaganda against the state.

Phanh Thanh Hai, who blogs under the penname “Anh Ba Saigon,” had his sentence reduced from four to three years; Hai’s and Tan’s sentences were upheld at 12 and 10 years, respectively. CPJ is working to confirm whether other independent bloggers were harassed or detained while trying to cover the appeals hearing. There are currently 14 journalists and bloggers behind bars in Vietnam, according to CPJ research.

Vi, a frequent contributor to Danlambao, was likely targeted due to her previous blog posts on the sensitive cases. In September, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued an executive order barring state employees from accessing Danlambao and two other blogs for, among other accusations, “reducing the people’s trust in state leadership.”

According to a report by Union of Catholic Asian News, Vi met with the family members of Dang Thi Kim Lieng the day she set herself on fire to protest her daughter Tan’s detention and then-pending trial. Vi was later threatened and prevented from attending Lieng’s funeral by plainclothes agents, according to the report.

In Vietnam’s authoritarian context, police officials are seldom if ever punished for abusing their power. Vi’s account raises questions about the potential culpability of senior police official Le Minh Hai, who she notes in her entry is in charge of Ho Chi Minh City’s security department. She also raises questions about whether other detained female dissident bloggers have been subjected to similar sexual abuse in the past.

Like many harassed and oppressed bloggers in Vietnam, Vi signed off her powerful posting on a defiant yet hopeful note, quoting what she said to a security agent involved in her assault: “In a way, I am glad that you have done those acts; because for any social change, it would also come with losses and sacrifices. What you have done today shows me the signs of real changes that will come and they will come very soon.”

Committee to Protect Journalists