Vietnam released a prominent female human rights activist today after she served a five-year prison sentence for violating the country’s law aimed at stopping dissent.
Ho Thi Bich Khuong was released from Thanh Xuan prison in Hanoi after serving a prison sentence for “conducting propaganda against the government,” but it is unclear where she will go since the Vietnamese government has confiscated her house and land.
“Police and thugs came to the village’s cultural house, and told me that this house is not for me to stay,” she said in an interview with RFA’s Vietnamese Service from the Nam Anh village. “They assaulted me and threw my stuff out.”
While her sister Ho Thi Lan offered to let her stay for the night, she told RFA that it was up to the government to find the activist a place to stay.
“This morning they summoned me to the village’s office to receive Khuong,” Ho Thi Lan said. “ I told them, as a sister I am willing to help Khuong, but I can’t do the hand-over procedure because the village took all her land and her house. Now they have to help her to settle down. I don’t know what might happen to her if she stays in my house.”
Multiple human rights awards
Ho Thi Bich Khuong is one of a rapidly expanding group of activists who use the Internet to defend their rights. She publishes detailed accounts of the repression and harassment she, her family and others have faced. She is author of “My Journey of Struggle for Justice and Democracy,” a book about her experiences.
In 2011 Ho Thi Bich Khuong received a Hellman/Hammett award from Human Rights Watch. In 2015 The Vietnam Human Rights Network gave her its human rights award
Born in 1967, Ho Thi Bich Khuong has been arrested and imprisoned several times for her human rights activities. A widow and mother of a teenage son, she was held incommunicado for almost a year after she and pastor Nguyen Trung Ton were arrested in Jan. 2011 while copying the film “Loss of the Country - A Great Disaster.”
According to a U.N. report on torture she was repeatedly beaten in prison and denied medical care.
In April 2007, police arrested her in an Internet café in Nghe An province for reading information on foreign-based websites. In 2008, the People’s Court of Nghe An sentenced her to two years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state.”
In May 2005, the authorities arrested her in Hanoi, where she went to file a grievance with the central government over the confiscation of her property by local authorities. The People’s Court of Ba Dinh district in Hanoi sentenced her to six months in prison for “disrupting public order” under article 245 of the penal code.
Reported by RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.