A Vietnamese activist jailed seven years ago for writing online articles criticizing government policies is suffering failing vision after being kept in a dark cell, family members said after visiting him in prison at the beginning of the month.
Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 51, was convicted in 2010 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government under Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code and is serving a 16-year prison term. He was tried along with lawyer Le Cong Dinh, engineer Nguyen Tien Trung, and businessman Le Thang Long.
Transferred in May 2016 to Prison No. 6 in north-central Vietnam’s Nghe An province, Thuc has been kept in a dark cell and denied books and other reading materials, Thuc’s brother Tran Huynh Duy Tan told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on April 7.
Tan and other family members visited Thuc at his prison on April 1, he said.
“We are worried about the lack of light in his cell,” Tan said. “His eyes have dark circles under them, and he complains of seeing flies.”
“He rarely complains about conditions in the prison, but whenever he writes to us, he always asks us to send him a flashlight.”
Power has frequently failed at the prison since August last year, Tan told RFA.
“Thuc has to live in the dark.”
“If there is sunlight outside, the cell will be a bit brighter, but it is really dark inside if the day is overcast or raining,” he said.
“Things are a bit better in the cold weather, but in the summer when it is hot, and there is no electricity, we don’t see how he can cope with it,” he said.
Thuc’s family now plans to complain directly to Vietnam’s president Tran Dai Quang about conditions at the prison where Thuc is being held, his brother said.
“We will send our petition to the prison authorities and to the president himself, demanding that they respect the rule of law, as President Tran Dai Quang said would be the case in a speech on Feb. 17.”
“He has talked a lot about respecting human rights and the rule of law for people serving sentences. But in this case, they are doing just the opposite,” he said.
Reported by Loan Ngo for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.