Guards in Vietnam’s Xuan Loc Prison recently beat six political prisoners, later throwing them into isolation cells, for requesting outdoor working hours on weekends, RFA has learned.
The beatings at the prison in southeastern Vietnam’s Dong Nai province came to light on May 12 during a visit by the mother of Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, one of those attacked, the mother told RFA on Wednesday.
“While police were connecting the phones so my son and I could talk, I saw a bruise on his cheekbone and asked him what had happened,” Huynh’s mother Nguyen Thi Hue said.
“My son then said that he and other prisoners had been beaten and put into solitary confinement because they had asked for outdoor work time not just on weekdays but on weekends too,” she said.
Police then stopped their conversation and took her son away, she said.
Writing in a petition sent to the Dong Nai People’s Procuracy and Xuan Loc Prison Management Board, Nguyen has now demanded authorities account for the attacks on her son and his fellow prisoners and threats made by guards against them, Nguyen told RFA.
Calls from RFA seeking comment from Xuan Loc Prison rang unanswered on Wednesday.
Arrested over protests
Arrested in 2018 for taking part in protests against a draft cybersecurity law and legislation granting long-term leases to foreign companies operating special economic zones in Vietnam, Huynh Duc Thanh Binh was sentenced in June 2019 to a ten-year prison term for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s government.”
His father, Huynh Duc Thinh , was sentenced to one year in jail for failing to denounce his son’s “crime.”
Xuan Loc was the scene last year of hunger strikes launched by political prisoners to protest harsh prison conditions and the inflated prices charged for food at the prison cafeteria for inmates convicted of political offenses.
Dissent is not tolerated in Vietnam, and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers, bloggers, and activists calling for greater freedoms in the one-party communist state.
Estimates of the number of prisoners of conscience now held in Vietnam’s jails vary widely.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that authorities held 138 political prisoners as of October 2019, while Defend the Defenders has suggested that at least 240 are in detention, with 36 convicted last year alone.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Richard Finney.