House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Constituency Statements

Tran Minh Nhat

10:13 am

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Recently I spoke in this place about the treatment of human rights activist Tran Minh Nhat at the hands of the Vietnamese authorities. Last week I received an email from him, and I would like to share it with the House. He wrote:

During the Lunar New Year, Lam Ha police harassed and threatened my family for the seventh time in just over a month. The Lam Ha police set fire to dry coffee plants adjacent to my house around midnight on February 10. The arson attack was only 10 metres away from my home. The fire was so large it took eight people over four hours to contain it.

My family and I have faced several acts of harassment prior to this incident. On the evening of the Lunar New Year our house was stoned. Just two days before this incident the Lam Ha police swerved into my father's motorcycle and threatened to beat my brother, Tran Khac Duong, to death.

My family has received ongoing threats for my peaceful advocacy for religious freedom, human rights and democracy. On February 7, three officers from Lam Ha police threatened us. They said: 'You dogs will pay for your actions. We hope you die.'

These threats and these acts of harassment by the Vietnamese authorities have been ongoing since I was released from prison in August last year. During the Christmas and New Year season my family's crops were destroyed, irrigation equipment was damaged, there were property break-ins and there was the stoning of our home.

My family and friends have been continually harassed by local police. Activists who visited me after I was released from prison were ambushed by police and physically beaten. My nieces and nephews who come over to my home to study have been threatened and barred from studying at my home by the school.

This is the account of one man—a human rights activist, yes. He is a person whose human rights have certainly been offended, but his crime was that he stood up for the human rights of others. Wherever human rights abuse occurs—and particularly where it involves a valued trading partner—it should be a concern for all of us. In this case it involves a partner who is a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is not acceptable for Vietnam to hide behind the actions of local authorities such as the police force at Lam Ha, particularly when they are all subject to the same authority under the same communist regime. To ignore is to excuse, which in turn leads to acceptance. We need to stand up for individuals who are brave enough to stand up for the rights of others. (Time expired)