Vietnamese prisoner-of-conscience Huynh Thuc Vy says she was beaten in prison

Her family say they believe guards attacked her for helping other inmates.
By RFA Vietnamese
2022.10.10
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Vietnamese prisoner-of-conscience Huynh Thuc Vy says she was beaten in prison Huynh Thuc Vy is shown next to a search warrant served by police on Aug. 9, 2018.
Facebook: Huynh Thuc Vy

UPDATED AT 00:06 A.M. ON 10-11-2022

Blogger and human rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy has been beaten and strangled by prison guards, according to family members, who found out after Vy whispered a call for help to her young daughter.

Vy is serving a 33-month prison term for “offending the national flag” under Article 276 of Vietnam’s criminal code. She is being held in Gia Trung Prison in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, about 200 km away from her home, making family visits difficult. However, on a visit this month Vy told her six-year-old daughter about her treatment at the hands of prison staff.

“About five minutes before the end of the meeting, Vy was allowed to hold her two little kids,” Vy’s younger brother Huynh Trong Hieu told RFA on Monday.

“She said softly into the daughter’s ear ‘Mom was beaten and her neck was held tightly by the guards. Please tell the family to tell lawyer Dang Dinh Manh to save Mom’.”

Hieu said the girl told her grandfather what Vy said as the family returned home.

RFA called the number of Gia Trung Prison to follow-up on the claims but no one answered the phone.

Hieu also told RFA that on Aug. 10 guards refused to allow Vy to hold her children. Vy reacted by throwing the meeting room phone on the floor and breaking it. One month later, the family came to see her again and she told them she had not been penalized for that.

Hieu said he believes Vy was beaten for helping her cellmates by sharing her food or giving their relatives’ phone numbers to her father so he could tell their relatives how they were being treated. Vy had told her family the prison guards did not want her to help other cellmates in that way.

Vy’s former husband, Le Khanh Duy, said in May that political prisoners at Gia Trung were being locked in their cells all day for refusing to work and that Vy had been harassed by other inmates who had been told to make political prisoners’ lives difficult.

Other political prisoners held at Gia Trung include Nguyen Trung Ton, a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, who is serving a 12-year jail sentence, and Luu Van Vinh, a member of the Vietnam National Self-Determination Coalition, serving a 15-year term.

Vy, 37, was sentenced to 33 months in prison in 2018 after spraying paint on Vietnam's national flag. At the time, she was allowed to postpone the sentence because her children were young, but she was sent to prison on November 30, 2021.

This story has been updated in the final paragraph to add details of Vy's sentence.

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