Freelance journalist Truong Minh Duc is still in a critical condition in Hoan My Hospital in Ho Chin Minh City, where he was taken after being beaten unconscious by policemen in Thu Dau Mot, a town 20 km to the north, on the morning of 2 November.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the brutality of the attack on Truong Minh Duc, who was ambushed by eight policemen and then beaten after trying unsuccessfully to flee into a nearby cafeteria. Witnesses said the police continued to hit him repeatedly with a helmet after he lost consciousness. A relative said Duc “narrowly escaped death.” Taken a few days after the attack, this photo of his face shows the brutality of the beating he received from the police. His wife told foreign media that he recognized some of his attackers as being members of the Binh Doung district police. He identified one of them as “Colonel Hoa,” an officer who is said to have harassed him in the past. The motive for this attack is still not clear. “We are shocked by the brutality with which the police treat their fellow citizens,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “Such police violence against bloggers and citizen-journalists is common and is becoming more frequent throughout the country. So these are probably not isolated acts but the result of a terror policy instigated by the Communist Party.” Ismaïl added: “We call on the international community to lose no time in doing whatever is necessary to put pressure on the Vietnamese authorities to end this systematic persecution of those who defend freedom of the media and information.” Acts of violence and intimidation are common not only against journalists and bloggers but also those who support them. France’s consul-general in Ho Chin Minh City was attacked by police on 5 November when he tried to help Pham Minh Hoang, a blogger who was being harassed by thugs and plainclothesmen. Vietnam is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.