Saigon activist assaulted by alleged plainclothes police

A democracy activist in Saigon, Dinh Quang Tuyen (a.k.a. Tuyen xich lo or Tuyen “cyclo”), was badly attacked near his residence on May 19. This is the third attack against activists within less than one month.

The assault took place at Dong Dieu area on Cao Lo Street, District 8, Saigon, causing bone fracture on the victim’s nose and bleeding all over his body.


Tuyen accused local police of organizing the crime as a threat to him “on the occasion of Ho Chi Minh’s 125th birthday” and a warning message to him for his writings on Facebook.

“I have been tightly followed by plainclothes police for the whole April,” Tuyen told Viet Nam Right Now. “They kept watching me, guarding outside my residence to prevent me from going out.”

“Early this morning (May 19), I was planning to leave home for exercise when I saw a local police, Lieutenant Huy, sitting in front of my house. Upon seeing me, he took his cell phone out from his pocket and talked to someone. I noticed that and I thought to myself whether he was going to do something against me. So I just walked instead of biking.”

Ten minutes later, when reaching Dong Dieu area he stopped to observe his surroundings. Then, two masked men on a motorcycle rushed in. One of the guys asked him loudly, “Hey, aren’t you going anywhere else?”. They threw a powerful punch in Tuyen’s face, causing blood to splatter on his face and wet his shirt. The punch shocked him blind so Tuyen could not see the two men riding away.

Tuyen managed to go home and was taken to hospital afterwards. Doctors said his nose suffered from a bad bone fracture.

Tuyen believed that it was the police who attacked him in the guise of thugs. The reason for the assault remained unknown, but he guessed it may have something to do with what he wrote before on his Facebook page. In the recent days, Tuyen had repeatedly expressed on Facebook his opposition against violent police actions targeted other activists like Tran Thi Nga, Trinh Anh Tuan and Nguyen Chi Tuyen.

State-sponsored violence against peaceful democracy and human rights activists has been escalating in Vietnam. Observers are concerned that it may even increase given the countdown to Vietnam’s entry into TPP, when the police find it hard to arrest more activists while hiring thugs or plainclothes police to physically attack activists may be much more effective: Those attacks often leave little trace to be associated with police forces, but they cause much fear.