“I’m going to be punished and have my license revoked,” HR lawyer says

Lawyer Vo An Don, legal representative for many victims of human rights violations in the recent three years, on June 19 wrote on his facebook page that he was facing repression and retaliation by the local authorities for his work as a human rights lawyers. His writing, which was published with a recorded tape of a meeting described by lawyer Don as a “public denunciation” of him, received more than 5000 “likes” and was shared by 1600 people within just one day.

Vo An Don has been titled as "lawyer of the poor and the victims of police brutality." Photo courtesy of the Dan Tri.

Vo An Don has been titled as “defending lawyer for the poor and the victims of police brutality.” Photo courtesy of the Dan Tri.

Below is the translation of lawyer Don’s facebook writing:


In the recent time, Mr. Nguyen Thai Hoc, Head of the Domestic Administration of Phu Yen province, has continuously directed the local Department of Justice and Bar to impose strict sanctions against me and then revoke my practicing license. Realizing that his direction is illegal and feeling anxious about the public, the Department of Justice and the Phu Yen Bar are hesitant in using any sanction against me; instead they would rather wait until the end of this year before they find a way to punish me.

The reason why Mr. Nguyen Thai Hoc has so many times directed his subordinates to severely punish me and have my license revoked was that he had previously failed in ordering the People’s Court of Tuy Hoa City to give a light or suspended sentence to the accused in the case of “five policemen beating a civilian to death”. His attempt failed dismally because of the widespread public outrage over the murder.

To restore his honor and to retaliate, Mr. Nguyen Thai Hoc, as the Head of  the Domestic Administration of Phu Yen province, on November 20, 2014 commanded the local police, procuracy, and court to make a petition for the revocation of my practicing license. Because they were confronted with sharp public criticism, his attempt failed once more.

Frustrated and furious over two failed attempts, on February 12, 2015, Mr. Nguyen Thai Hoc himself called a meeting at the headquarter of the Phu Yen’s Domestic Administration, involving five members of the Administration, leaders of the Phu Yen Department of Justice, and all members of the Phu Yen Bar. Surprisingly, though the invitation letter wrote that this was an annual meeting at the year-end, in fact it was a public denunciation of me, where 20 people were mobilized to compel me to admit that I had been doing wrong when I represented the family of Ngo Thanh Kieu [a victim of police brutality, who was beaten to death in a police station in Tuy Hoa City] and gave interviews to foreign media. For I did not admit that it was wrong, at the end of the meeting Mr. Nguyen Thai Hoc loudly directed the Phu Yen Bar and Department of Justice to severely punish me and revoke my license.

Mr. Nguyen Thai Hoc is young and he has just been elected to the position of Head of the Phu Yen Domestic Administration for one year. However, he has audaciously ignored public opinion and the law by ordering the People’s Court of Tuy Hoa City to give light and suspended sentences to the accused in the case of “five policemen beating a civilian to death”.

Despite his failed attempts and the public outcry he faced, that “Little Emperor” not just remained in his position but he has also been promoted recently to the senior post of standing commissioner of the local Party Committee.

I do not know when I will be punished and my practicing license be revoked, but as long as I am working as a lawyer, I will provide legal counselling for free to the poor, the disadvantaged and the ones killed by police forces.