Nguyen Hoang Vi – Passing the watching eyes of the security agents who were surrounding my house to attend the trial was difficult.
The night before the appeal hearing I did not sleep because I was just afraid that if I closed my eyes to sleep I might wake up late. I laid in bed waiting for the morning light.
4:00 AM I felt insecure, restless, and worried that security police might know where I stayed and would barricade me inside. Strange noises outside of the door worried me.
I sat up, turned on the lights and my laptop to read the Bible and prayed. I repeatedly recited the passage of Peace.
5:30 AM, I opened the door and stepped outside to ensure everything was peaceful. I put on exercise clothes then ran into the street.
After my morning coffee, at about 8:00 AM I walked by the court house and saw only security agents standing around the place. No familiar faces of the public or people on our side were there. I decided to stop at a place nearby then turned around and slowly walked back to the court house.
A little past 8:00 AM I walked from the intersection of Pasteur and Ly Tu Trong Streets to Co Da park, across from the Court. When I stopped in front of the Court, I saw many staring eyes, and cameras pointed toward me.
I felt alone and lost among a crowd of strangers with bullet eyes staring toward me. I couldn’t care less! I chose a seat facing the Court to sit down, then I whispered the Peace prayer for those who were being tried in court. After a little while, security police came to chase me away. I crossed the street to a bus station on the other side of the Court, and waited for the bus home. There were a few other people already sitting there because they could not attend the trial. We started to make conversation. Shortly after that, the police came to chase us away. I went back in the Park, just when Vu Sy Hoang (Facebook nickname Hanh Nhan) and Bach Viet arrived. We entered the Park and sat chatting with each other. Minutes later, a crowd of police, security, Civil Defense, City Order enforcers walked toward us. Sensing that something bad about to happen, we decided to get up and leave the park. A senior police officer ran after me and barked an order:
– I suggest you show me your ID card.
– What! You want to check my ID card for walking in the park?
– I am security police. I have the right to check the ID card of anyone.
– It is true that you have the right to check the ID card of people but only after 11:00 pm if you caught me wandering on the street. Now I go to the park in broad day light, why do you want to check my ID card? What do you want?
They sped toward me and Hanh Nhan trying to grab us. I ran out on the street and yelled loudly. They quickly and rudely pushed me into a car waiting nearby. Hanh Nhan could not escape either. They grabbed his neck, pushed him on the ground and punched him in the face. His lips bled. They lifted him by his hands and legs like carrying a pig and threw him in the car. His trouser was torn.
In the car, they continued to menace and beat us. They ripped off the cell phone from me.
I was taken to the police station of Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, while Hanh Nhan was taken to another place. They pushed me into an office in the police station. An aggressive security police, unjustly hit me in the face, the neck and my two shoulders as if he and I had had an eternal feud with each other in the past. I was in pain.
After beating me, he left the room to confer with his comrades, leaving me with a local ward police and a young girl from the Security Team of District 1. I turned to ask her a question:
– How old are you?
– You are so young. You must have just graduated from school, right?
The little girl nodded. I said:
– Do you think the security agents have the right to do what the law does not allow?
The girl had not answered when the local police stopped her:
– Calm down! You had to do something wrong for the police to bring you here. There are many other people on the street why didn’t they arrest them, but you? (This phrase was so familiar to me)
– I’m wondering why they arrested me. Could you, at your convenience, ask them why ? (I asked him that question in soft and calm voice).
Everybody was quiet when the security agents wearing civil clothes walked into the room.
A female security agent told me:
– We suspect you hide illegal exhibits in your body. We recommend that you let us search your body.
I also found this rationale familiar. I suddenly thought this is their trick to incriminate me to a crime. So I said:
– OK! If you want to do that, bring me out in front of the public, I’m going to take off my clothes for everyone to witness and that way you could not pin anything on me.
– You can’t say that! You are a woman with honor and dignity. Strip you naked in front of the public, what would they think of you?
– Right! To women their honor and dignity are very important. But not because of that that I would let you arbitrarily accuse me of any crime.
No matter what I said, they stuck to their plan. They restrained me, and stripped off my clothes in front of other security policemen and the terrible thing was they brought out a video camera to record the event. Their goal was to humiliate me. I resisted and warned them:
– You had difficulty taking off my clothes, but putting them back on me would be even harder.
When there were only underwear left on me they stopped. Their camera remained pointed toward me. I went to a mirror in the back to fix my hair and then looked toward the camera putting on a calm attitude, but I yelled:
– Record it. After you’ve done recording, don’t forget to post it on the Internet so the public can see your vile actions.
After they were done recording, they went out of the room for consultation.
I felt achy and weak because of the beating, the humiliation, and the effort to fight back. I laid down on the floor closed my eyes to think about their barbaric behaviors. Before becoming a Catholic, I had stated that I would rather die than to let them trample on my dignity. In those days, I would throw myself against a wall to end my life.
I started to feel cold and nauseous, I ran to the toilet. While I was vomiting, a woman introducing herself a nurse from the Health department of District 1 came to ask me if I was married or had kids, then she asked me to pull down my panty for her to do a vaginal cavity check. I asked her for the reason, she said, my vomit was related to my digestive problem. I told her my vagina had nothing to do with my digestive system, it might affect my urinary so I refused to let her check anything on my body. Seeing that I was in such a bad condition, she went out of the room and refused to do the vaginal cavity search requested by the security police.
The security people insisted she carry out the search. I walked out from the toilet and told her not to do anything against the law and against her conscience. I pointed to the security people and told her that she should let them do their job and don’t let them pass on the responsibility to her. I said they dared to undress me to video tape me then there was no other dirty job they would not do.
The woman removed the gloves, handed them to the security agents and left the room. The security agents also walked out of the room. I sat down on the floor, the shock still lingered in my mind. I hoped they wouldn’t do it. Because I was afraid if they’d do it, my soul would suffer serious damage and hatred would succumb me. I might destroy myself and then them. I didn’t know how to prevent such things from happening. I became immobilized and suddenly I sang the passage of peace and then I prayed.
They returned with two new nurses while I was still singing words from the passage of peace. They asked me to be obedient and cooperate but I refused. They coercively carried me and put me on a table, they restrained my arms and my legs then proceeded to strip me naked. I resisted with all the force that I have left to fight back; a few times I kicked some of them to the wall. I scratched their hands, pulled their hair, but the strength of one was no match for the four of them combined. In the end they stripped me naked. They placed their hands in my vagina. I felt hurt both physically and mentally. After they were done with me, they forced me to let them put my clothes back on me. I refused to let them putting my clothes back on me. I said:
– Just leave me naked this way and let me go home. You dared to do all that before but you’re afraid now? I’m not afraid so there is nothing for you to be afraid of.
They tried really hard to put my pants back on me but they could not put my shirt back on me. They took my jacket and pulled it up through my arms then they pull the zipper up on my back. Then they left the room. There were tears rolling down my face. I was thinking of death. And then I thought about the words in the passage of peace, I thought of the life of Jesus Christ and I forced a smile. While the security agents were writing some type of reports, I heard the young security girl said:
– Uncle Hai ordered us to do that.
The uncle Hai that she referred to could it be Le Minh Hai (who was in charge of the city security department), the one who had given order for his people to do the same devil’s job on Blogger Ta Phong Tan like they did to me today?
About 12:00 noon, they returned me to the police station of Phu Thanh ward, in Tan Phu district (where I resided). In the car I remembered about what my friends had been telling about the cruelty of the Egyptian rulers prior to the changes in their country, I felt very at peace that I spoke directly to the security agent the following words:
– Today I’m very happy for claiming two victories against you. The first is despite the fact that you did mobilize a lot of people and efforts to stop me from leaving the house. But you failed, I did arrive at the court house where I wanted to go. The second, you used your vile and dirty acts wanting to hurt my soul to instill fear in me, causing me to give up my cause. But I want to let you know that while it is true that violence and your vile acts may cause people to surrender before you, but that only works for the weak. With people like me those acts only strengthen my spirit and my determination. You should convey my words to those who ordered you to carry out these vile acts. And don’t forget to add that your skills are poor and inferior to a woman like me that you had to rely on those dirty tricks.
In a way, I am glad that you have done those acts; because for any social change, it would also come with losses, and sacrifices. What you have done today shows me the signs of real changes that will come and they will come very soon. And violence will kill national criminals like you.
At first, when I began to talk, they wanted to hit me, but then for some reasons, only silence.
(to be continued)
Nguyen Hoang Vi