Relatives of Jailed Vietnamese Democracy Activists Detail Prison Mistreatment to US Embassy Officials


2018-12-14
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vietnam-trungton2-102318.jpg Brotherhood for Democracy member Nguyen Trung Ton is shown in an undated photo.
Photo provided by an RFA listener

Four jailed Vietnamese members of the online Brotherhood for Democracy advocacy group are suffering from failing health and enduring ill treatment in prison, according to the wife of one activist, who raised concerns about their situation during a meeting with U.S. Embassy officials on Friday.

Nguyen Thi Lanh, the wife of Brotherhood for Democracy President Nguyen Trung Ton, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that she and other relatives met with representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to detail routine abuse of the activists by prison authorities and ask for assistance in securing their release.

“We told them about members of the Brotherhood for Democracy who are now in prison—that they are treated very badly,” she said.

“[Former Brotherhood for Democracy president] Pham Van Troi has to work eight hours a day. They try to force my husband to write confessions every day, but he has refused, so they have placed him in solitary confinement to attempt to break him.”

Along with Nguyen Trung Ton and Pham Van Troi, family members also raised the cases of Truong Minh Duc, the deputy head of the Brotherhood for Democracy in Southern Vietnam, and Tran Thi Xuan, a Catholic activist and member of the group.

Nguyen Thi Lanh said a representative from the U.S. Embassy pledged to “pay more attention” to Brotherhood for Democracy members and to raise concerns about their cases, as well as those of other political prisoners, with relevant authorities in Vietnam.

Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, and Truong Minh Duc were arrested along with fellow Brotherhood for Democracy member Nguyen Bac Truyen on July 30, 2017 by Vietnamese security officers because of their ties to the group and subsequently charged under Article 79 of the Penal Code for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration.”

On April 5, Nguyen Trung Ton and Truong Minh Duc each received sentences of 12 years in jail and three years of house arrest, while Pham Van Troi received a seven-year sentence and one year of house arrest.

Tran Thi Xuan was also arrested under Article 79 on Oct. 17, 2017, and sentenced on April 12 to nine years in prison by a court in Ha Tinh province.

In October, Nguyen Thi Lanh said her husband is in failing health in prison and unable to walk owing to an untreated injury suffered in a beating by police two years ago.

Tran Thi Xuan has suffered from multiple health problems, including kidney disease and asthma, and is believed to be suffering from fluid retention due to lack of treatment for her medical issues.

Vietnam’s one-party communist government–which controls all media, censors the internet, and restricts basic freedoms of expression–is currently detaining more than 200 political prisoners, Nguyen Kim Binh of Vietnam Human Rights Network said in a speech Sunday in California to mark the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. document that sets out fundamental human rights.

That number was higher than the 130 provided recently by Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based advocacy and watchdog group.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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