Labor Organizer Đỗ Thị Minh Hạnh Attacked in Aftermath of SEZ Protests

Labor organizer Đỗ Thị Minh Hạnh’s home in Di Linh, Lâm Đồng Province, has been repeatedly terrorized by dozens of masked assailants hurling rocks and explosives.

Daughter of a former RVN fighter pilot, Minh Hạnh (born 1985) is a founding member of the United-Workers Farmers Organization, an agricultural workers’ union whose leaders were handed down five years sentences in 2006 for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state”. In addition, she has organized with the mutual aid society Dân Oan [unjustly wronged], which advocates and organizes victims of party-state land grabs, and is the founder and chairwoman of Viet Labor Movement, an independent, illegal, labor organization whose leading members have most recently been repressed in conjunction with the unrest among Catholic communities devastated by the Formosa chemical spills in 2016. One prominent Viet Labor activist, Hoàng Đức Bình, is currently serving a 14 year sentence for his organizing against the spill.

Bauxite Mine in Lâm Đồng Province

Besides labor organizing, Minh Hạnh was a prominent opponent to the Chinese invested bauxite mines near her hometown, where she first attracted state scrutiny for secretly photographing the strictly off-limits site, posting the pictures online, and accusing the government of “selling out the country” [bán nước] to the Chinese.

In 2010 she was arrested for inciting Mekong shoe-factory workers to strike for better pay and improved working conditions. In a closed proceeding without legal counsel, Minh Hạnh was given a seven year sentence, of which she served four before being released.

Đỗ Thị Minh Hạnh in Xuân Lộc Prison

This renewed police harassment may be part of a crackdown on activist in the wake of the recent anti-China, anti-SEZ, anti-Cyber Security Law protests on the weekend of June 12th, which saw large peaceful marches overtake the major urban centers, weeklong strikes in major Ho Chi Minh City-area factories, and a full blown rebellion rout the local government in Bình Thuận province.

This past May 16th, despite having all the necessary documents in order, Minh Hạnh was prevented from boarding a plane to Germany. She was kicked out of Ho Chi Minh City, and forced to move in with her father in Di Linh, Lâm Đồng, where she has been held under constant surveillance.

rocks minh hanh

On June 24th, while returning to her house on motorbike, she was attacked by six men who followed her home and bombarded her house with rocks.

At 11:00pm on June 26th, her house was suddenly attacked with, rocks, gasoline bombs, and what appears to be high-explosives. Thankfully, the latter had a faulty fuse.

tnt minh hanh
Explosive thrown into Minh Hạnh’s house.

The next morning, after paying her a visit, a friend was attacked by “a dozen thugs” and is currently hospitalized.

It’s unclear how, or if, these attacks are related to the recent anti-China protests, or what Minh Hạnh and Vietlabor’s role in those protests could have been. With such heightened state security, it seems unlikely that the organization could have had a hand in the recent anti-SEZ factory strikes, which appear to be spontaneous in comparison to the anti-China factory riots of 2014.




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