The Story of the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden, Part 1: “Their whole world collapsed around them”

In January 2019 Vietnamese authorities carried out a massive operation in the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, which saw the forcible eviction of thousands of residents and the destruction of over 500 homes. Today, nearly two years later the residents of Loc Hung continue to await justice.

Over the next few weeks, CSW will be telling the story of the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden through a series of interviews with those who lived there. For our first instalment, we spoke to Cao Ha Truc, one of those leading efforts for the residents to receive some form of compensation.

How long have you lived in the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden and how did you come to live there?

My family have lived here for four generations, ever since my grandparents and parents heeded the call from President Ngo Dinh Diem to migrate from the north to the south after the Geneva Accords of 1954. I was born here and so were my children. I farmed on the land here from the day I got married until the day it was taken from my family.

Initially my family made a living from farming vegetables in the garden, but as we grew in size we needed to expand our living space so we built more houses on the land – some to live in and a few more to rent out to subsidise the income from the vegetable garden.

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Padre Stan Swamy: El objetivo de las autoridades indias apuntan a uno de los defensores de derechos humanos más antiguos del país

El 8 de octubre, miembros de la Agencia Nacional de Investigación de la India arrestaron al Padre Stan Swamy, un sacerdote Jesuita y antiguo activista de los derechos tribales en el país. Si bien el objetivo de quienes defienden los derechos humanos en la India no es nada nuevo, el caso del Padre Swamy ha llamado especialmente la atención internacional porque, a sus 83 años de edad, es uno de los defensores de derechos humanos más antiguos del país.

“La persona más vieja acusada de terrorismo en la India”

El Padre Swamy ha estado trabajando con “Adivasis”(grupos étnicos registrados) de la India durante más de tres décadas. Incluso en su vejez, y a pesar de sufrir de numerosos problemas de salud, ha seguido abogando por este grupo hasta la actualidad. En un video publicado pocos días antes de su arresto, el Padre Swamy dijo que había presentado un caso en el Tribunal Superior de Jharkhand en nombre de 3.000 jóvenes “Adivasis” que habían sido encarcelados.

Fue arrestado en el centro social Bagaicha, propiedad de los Jesuitas, en Ranchi, la capital del Estado de Jharkhand, y posteriormente fue informado de que sería encarcelado en Taloja, cerca de Mumbai, hasta el 23 de octubre.

Lee mÁs

Father Stan Swamy: The Indian authorities target one of the country’s oldest human rights defenders

On 8 October, members of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and long-time activist on tribal rights in the country. While the targeting of those who stand up for human rights in India is nothing new, Father Swamy’s case has drawn particular international attention because, at 83-years-old, he is one of the country’s oldest human rights defenders (HRDs).

“The oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India”

Father Swamy has been working with India’s Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes) for over three decades. Even in his old age, and despite suffering from numerous health issues, he has continued to advocate for the group right up to the present day. In a video released just days before his arrest, Father Swamy said that he had filed a case in the Jharkhand High Court on behalf of 3,000 young Adivasis who had been imprisoned.

He was arrested at the Jesuit-owned Bagaicha social centre in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, and was subsequently informed that he would be remanded in custody in Taloja Jail near Mumbai until 23 October.

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“No respect for human dignity”: Remembering China’s 709 Crackdown

On 9 July 2015 the Chinese authorities began an extensive crackdown on human rights defenders (HRDs) and their friends and family members. Dubbed the ‘709 Crackdown’ after the date on which it began, the campaign saw over 300 lawyers, activists and their associates detained, interrogated or imprisoned.

Some of those detained have since vanished into China’s prison system. Many others have since been released, and with them have emerged reports of physical and psychological torture, including frequent beatings, sleep deprivation, forced medication, violent threats, and prolonged isolation. One of those released is human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who was finally reunited with his family in April 2020 after serving nearly five years in prison. During his imprisonment, Wang suffered several health issues, losing approximately 30 pounds and showing signs of memory loss.

Five years since the crackdown began, pressure on HRDs in China continues to increase, with some forced to scale back their work on ‘sensitive’ cases or leave the profession entirely. Today we reflect on the crackdown, and its repercussions which continue to be felt across China, in the words of those who lived through it:

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On 4 June We Remember…

On 4 June 1989 Chinese army troops brutally supressed peaceful protests for freedom and democracy, killing and wounding thousands of people in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, in what has become one of the most infamous days in China’s history.

31 years on, the current human rights situation is itself a tragedy. The Chinese Communist Party continues to violate the rights of citizens across the country, stamping out dissent, stifling freedom of expression, and tightening its stranglehold on the right to freedom of religion or belief.

Today we remember all those who lost their lives in the bloodshed and stand with their families as they continue to seek justice. We also remember those who have since been targeted by China’s oppressive regime, and urge the international community to hold China to account for severe violations of human rights.

Continue reading “On 4 June We Remember…”