Vietnam Dissidents Sent to New Prison Far From Home

2017-08-31
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Vietnamese dissident Tran Anh Kim is shown in court in a screen grab, May 26, 2017.
Vietnamese dissident Tran Anh Kim is shown in court in a screen grab, May 26, 2017.
AFP

Two high-profile Vietnamese dissidents have been quietly transferred from a prison in northern Vietnam’s Ha Nam province to a prison in Thanh Hoa province farther from their homes, a report on a Hanoi-based dissident web site says.

Le Thanh Tung and Tran Anh Kim  were sentenced in December 2016 to 13 years and 12 years in prison respectively for “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

In May, Vietnam’s Court of Appeals upheld the sentences against the men.

Authorities withheld news of the men’s transfer from their families, who learned they had been moved only after attempting to visit them in prison, the Hanoi-based rights group Defend the Defenders said in an Aug. 30 posting.

“One month ago, Mrs. Thom, the wife of Kim, went to the prison to visit him and she was informed that the duo was transferred to Prison No. 5 in the central province of Thanh Hoa,” the rights group said in its report.

Two weeks later, Thom received a letter from her husband confirming his transfer, the group said, adding that Kim’s wife has still received no word from authorities or her husband on his transfer or current condition.

“She plans to go to the [Ministry of Public Security’s] agency responsible for prison management to ask about her husband’s situation,” the rights group said.

Both were jailed before

Kim, a former army colonel who served in the Vietnam War, has become one of Vietnam’s most persistent dissidents. He had earlier served a five-and-a-half-year term following his conviction on a similar charge from which he was released last year.

He was awarded a Hellman/Hammett grant by the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch in 2009 for his pro-democracy and human rights activities, including circulating petitions protesting injustice and corruption in the Vietnamese Communist Party.

Tung, an ex-soldier and freelance journalist, had previously served a five-year term, from which he was released last year, for “conducting propaganda against the state” for his association with Bloc 8406—a banned coalition of political groups advocating democratic reform in the one-party communist state.

Following their release from prison, the two were again arrested and charged with working to establish an organization aimed at overthrowing the government.

The group was only an online association of democracy advocates, most of whose members had never met, Kim and Tung said at their trial.

The transfer of political prisoners without word to their families is a common practice in Vietnam, Defend the Defenders said in their Aug. 30 report.

“In addition, prisoners of conscience are often held in facilities which are far from their native localities so their families find difficulties in visiting them,” the rights group said.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Emily Peyman. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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