Vietnamese Democracy Advocate Moved to New Prison Far From Home


2019-01-29
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vietnam-trungtruc-012919.jpg Jailed democracy activist Nguyen Trung Truc is shown in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Nguyen Trung Truc

Prison authorities in central Vietnam’s Quang Binh province have moved a jailed member of the online advocacy group Brotherhood for Democracy to a new prison in Thanh Hoa province seven hours’ drive to the north, sources said.

Nguyen Trung Truc, now serving a 12-year prison term on a charge of subversion, was transferred last week without his family’s knowledge, Truc’s son Nguyen Quang Trung told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Monday.

“Yesterday, my aunt called me and said that on Jan. 25, two days earlier, a person who lives near the prison told her that my father had been moved to Thanh Hoa, but the police never told us [about the transfer],” he said.

“Authorities told us that if his sentence had been less than five years, they would have kept him in Quang Binh, but we are very surprised now that they have moved him.”

Trung said he had last visited his father in Quang Binh on Jan. 16, and found him in bad health with failing eyesight due to poor conditions in the prison.

During proceedings on Dec. 26, 2018 that lasted just under three hours, an appeals court in the central coastal city of Da Nang upheld a September decision by a lower court in Quang Binh ordering Truc, 44, to spend 12 years in prison for activities “aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code.

Truc’s arrest two years earlier followed the round-up of other members of the online Brotherhood for Democracy activist group, many of whom were also handed long prison terms after trials widely condemned as unfair.

Prisoner suffers stroke

A Vietnamese dissident sentenced in 2013 to 15 years has meanwhile suffered a stroke in prison without notification by authorities to his relatives, and with family members learning of his condition only in a posting on the internet.

Ngo Hao, a former soldier now in his 70s, was convicted under Article 79 for his online writings supporting Vietnamese activist groups who had asked him to seek help on their behalf from the U.N. and the international rights group Human Rights Watch, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

“Now, he is very weak and has trouble walking,” Hao’s wife Nguyen Thi Kim Lam told RFA on Jan. 28, a day after visiting her husband in prison.

“He has already been in prison for a long time, and his health may not withstand the conditions there,” Lam said, adding that prison authorities had not informed her of Hao’s condition.

“A person who is in the same prison with Hao and knows us posted information about him on the internet, and we saw it and decided to visit,” she said.

Prison authorities later turned down Lam's request to take Hao to a doctor for treatment, she said.

“They told us that they hadn’t informed us about his situation because they could take care of things by themselves,” she said.

Vietnam’s one-party communist government currently holds more than 200 political prisoners, including rights advocates and bloggers deemed threats to national security,  Nguyen Kim Binh of the California-based Vietnam Human Rights Network said in a speech on Dec. 9.

It also controls all media, censors the internet, and restricts basic freedoms of expression.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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