My name is Hồ Sỹ Quyết, born 1988 in Nghệ An. Around 2:00 pm on January 3, 2020, while my wife and I were at home in Bldg A, West Bay, Eco Park in Văn Giang, Hưng Yên, our doorbell rang. We looked out and saw our building security guard. Thinking he needed to tell us something about our building, we opened the door.
As soon as I turned the padlock, a group of non-uniformed people – 9 men and 1 woman — rushed in without asking for my permission. They announced that they belonged to the Security Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security. They restrained me and my wife at our table then began to search through our house. They went into our son’s room, as well as our master bedroom. They gathered all our electronics, identification papers, books… and stuffed everything into my wife’s travel luggage. They also took some pictures and videos. When I asked if they had a warrant, they yelled at me to “Shut up and sit still!”
They took us and all our belongings, including my wife’s luggage, to the police station of Văn Giang precinct. I was put in a black 7-seat van with blue license plate 80A. My wife was put in a 4-seater car with a female not in uniform. During the trip, my wife and I were not allowed to communicate with each other.
When we got to the Văn Giang station, they put me and my wife in separate rooms. Then they began to interrogate us and tried to unlock our phones. After about two hours, they successfully unlocked my wife’s Samsung J7 and started going through her private messages; they also made my wife write a report about the books she bought and asked me about my work. They threatened that if we did not sincerely confess or write a report, they would not let my wife go home to pick up our children from school. Our son Tom is three years old and was in school at the time; as a rule, he would not let anybody pick him up except one of us. This incident has severely affected my wife psychologically. Since January 3, she has been in a constant state of anxiety and stress.
As for myself, the security police interrogated me about the following:
- My buying three books from Freedom Publishing House, including: “Learn about Policy Making Through the Special Economic Zones”; “Ba Sàm”; “Non-violent Resistance”.
- How did I become friends with artist Nguyễn Trường Thịnh (Thinh Nguyen)
- A number of questions relating to civil society in Vietnam.
They asked me to reveal passwords to my phones and laptops, as well as to write up a personal bio. When they gave me the form for “Minutes from the confession,” I refused to cooperate and only accepted to work with them under the condition that they must use the “Minutes from the working session.” I also refused to unlock my phones and laptops.
Around 11:30 pm the same day, the police made a (handwritten) list of the items they confiscated from me and my wife, but they never gave me a copy, as required by law.
During the interrogation by police, I was not physically abused; I was given food and water.
The following is the list of personal items they have taken from us:
- 1 Macbook Air
- 1 Magic Mouse
- 1 Canon EOS 50 with lens kit
- 1 anti-shaking device for the camera
- 1 Gopro 6 (black)
- 1 iPhone 6
- 1 iPhone 5
- 1 Nokia phone (black and white)
- 1 Samsung J7 phone (belonging to my wife, Trần Ngọc Trâm)
- 2 32GB memory cards
- 2 16GB SD cards
- 2 passports (HồSỹ Quyết and Trần Ngọc Trâm)
- 1 household registration booklet under my name as head of the household
- 1 birth certificate of my son
- 1 driver’s licence class A1 under my wife’s name
- 1 certificate for completing the training program by the IPS on “Debating Policies”
- 1 travel luggage
- Several books in Vietnamese, including: three books by Freedom Publishing House; “Discussion on Democracy”; “Gạc-Ma, the Immortal Circle”; a novel by Châu Đoàn; “Promoting Education”; “The Psychology of Annamites”
The total value of the confiscated items is about $5000 USD, not counting the psychological damage to my wife and me, nor the lost wages and disruptions to our daily lives.
By the end of the working session, when they returned the items to me, the following were still missing:
- 1 Canon EOS 50
- 1 camera stabilization
- 1 micro SD card
When we were released (my wife at 6:00 pm, myself at 11:30 pm), they handed back to me my bank cards and identification cards (for both of us). The police refused to give back to me all other personal papers, including the household registration booklet and my son’s birth certificate. They told us, only verbally, that we must show up at the Police Investigation Centre 3 at Nguyễn Gia Thiều, Hà Nội, on January 7, at 10:00 am to resume the “working session.”
As a citizen, I oppose in the strongest terms possible the action by non-uniformed security police for invading our home and confiscating our belongings without any warrants and not following any legal process. I believe that any issues between the government and citizens can be reasonably worked out. However, I demand that the Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security return all my personal belongings to me and follow the procedures laid out by the law before they request anything from me.
Currently, access to all my email and social media accounts has been blocked. I ask that the public be mindful when trying to contact me personally. I hereby declare that I am not responsible for any pronouncements or documents that exist on my personal devices since I was detained, which was around 2:00 pm on January 3, 2020.
Hồ Sỹ Quyết
January 6, 2020
The statement in Vietnamese: https://www.facebook.com/100000244510380/posts/3715501661801281/
Translation © 2020 The 88 Project