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Six men believed to be Vietnamese police officers ambushed and beat a dissident on April 9 as the land rights trials that have embroiled Hanoi in recent months ramp up.

The attackers waited until Nguyen Chi Duc left his office for lunch, then knocked him off his motorbike and bludgeoned him with wooden clubs. They also kicked him in the face while he lay curled on the ground.

“I am 100 percent convinced that it was policemen who attacked me,” Duc told Radio Free Asia.

Earlier that week Duc had protected another land-rights activist Bui Minh Hang from police intimidation in a busy marketplace. When a plainclothes officer tried hassling the pair, Duc called out for help and a group of market-goers restrained the police officer. The agitated police officer flashed his credentials, which made the crowd back off, but Duc says he thinks the confrontation galvanized the authorities and refocused their attention from Hang to him.

Duc and Hang are the latest targets of the Vietnamese government’s crackdown on bloggers and dissenters before the country begins its bid for the UN Human Rights Council, when it will face even greater scrutiny.

“The Vietnamese government has produced an avalanche of political show trials as it tries to keep a lid on growing dissent,” said Brad Adams, the Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

By Adam Anton.

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