Vietnamese activist Nguyen Trung Ton, currently serving a 12-year jail sentence, is being punished by prison authorities for maintaining his innocence of charges he plotted to overthrow his country’s communist government, his wife said on Friday.
Shortly after visiting her husband in prison, Nguyen Thi Lanh told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that prison authorities are forcing him to sit separately from the other inmates as he reviews prison rules because they are worried that he may influence the others.
“They are trying to force him to write a confession every day and accept the accusations against him, but he refuses,” Nguyen Thi Lanh, said.
“He told them he is fighting for democracy so that people can enjoy all the freedoms specified by the international convention on human rights,” she said, adding, “My husband is very firm, and he accepts his imprisonment [over falsely pleading guilty].”
Arrested on July 30, 2017 by Vietnamese security officers because of his connection with the Brotherhood for Democracy group, Nguyen was accused of plotting to overthrow the government and charged under Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code.
Taken into custody at around the same time were fellow Brotherhood for Democracy members Nguyen Van Tuc, Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, and Nguyen Bac Truyen, according to information provided by relatives and the website of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security.
Judicial authorities in Hanoi handed down harsh prison terms to Nguyen and five other Brotherhood for Democracy members on April 5, 2018, earning the condemnation of international rights groups who had called for the charges of subversion to be dropped.
Vietnam’s one-party communist government is currently detaining at least 130 political prisoners, including rights advocates and bloggers deemed threats to national security, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
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 Eugene Whong.