The mother of Vietnamese blogger Le Anh Hung has called on authorities in the communist state to release him from an involuntary stay in a mental hospital, where she said he was forced to take medicine and is suffering “both mentally and physically.”
Hung’s mother, Tran Thi Niem, wrote letters asking the police, procuracy and Central Psychiatric Hospital No. 1. to release him to the care of his family, she told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Wednesday.
“He’s in the worst situation right now, both mentally and physically. The police forced my son to take the medicine, saying my son must take the medicine, but he refused,” she said.
“If they think my son is guilty of something then try him, and if he’s innocent yet they think my son is sick, then release him and let me take my son back,” Niem wrote after her May 10 visit to her son at the Central Psychiatric Hospital No. 1. She revealed the contents of her letter only on Wednesday.
Niem said that Hung, who is in his mid-30s, had lost a lot of weight, and looked ragged, gaunt and depressed. She said he had undergone psychiatric assessment twice between October 2018 and April, without informing his family, and was then sent for treatment at the Central Psychiatric Hospital I.
During a first period of forced observation in October 2018, Hung had gone on a hunger strike, but was fed by prison authorities by force through his mouth and nose, a friend said on May 10. Hung was then sent back to the hospital from April 7 to April 22.
Le, a member of the online Brotherhood of Democracy advocacy group who had blogged for the Voice of America, was arrested in July 2018 on a charge of “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 of Vietnam’s criminal code.
If convicted, he could serve up to seven years in prison.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, approximately 150 to 200 activists and bloggers are serving prison time in Vietnam for exercising their right to peaceful expression of their opinions.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Channhu Hoang. Written in English by Paul Eckert.