Former political prisoner says Vietnamese police tortured him

Nguyen Viet Dung was released last month after serving a 6-year sentence.
By RFA Vietnamese
Former political prisoner says Vietnamese police tortured him Former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Viet Dung .
Nguyen Viet Dung

Former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Viet Dung told Radio Free Asia he was kidnapped and tortured by police investigating charges of “propaganda against the state."

Dung, 37, finished a six-year sentence last month.

He was arrested on Sept. 27, 2017 and sentenced on April 12, 2018 to seven years in prison and five years of probation. 

During the appeal hearing on Aug. 15 of the same year, his prison sentence was reduced to six years in prison with no change in probation.

According to the indictment of the Nghe An Provincial Procuracy, from the beginning of 2017 to May 19, 2017, Dung had posted on his Facebook page articles containing propaganda, distorting the policies and guidelines of the party and state, distorting history, and defaming Vietnam’s leaders.

More than a week after returning home from Nam Ha Detention Center, he told RFA:

“In order to bring me to trial, the Ho Chi Minh City Police Department and Nghe An Police Department applied all measures to violate the civil rights that should protect me by law.

“I was kidnapped, I was tortured and I was forced to confess.”

He said that before being arrested by Nghe An Police, he was kidnapped twice by Ho Chi Minh City Police, beaten and forced to board a plane to Nghe An, only to be kidnapped again by local police and beaten on arrival at the airport.

“On Sept. 27, 2017, I was kidnapped by Nghe An police while I was preparing to eat lunch. I was handcuffed by my hands and feet and beaten.

“After taking me to the Nghe An Provincial Police Detention Center with a temporary detention order, I should have been placed in a room for detainees with a surveillance camera.”

He said the police detained him in a room without a camera and continued to beat him.

“On the morning of Sept. 28, 2017, when I reported the incident of being beaten to the prison officer at that time named Nguyen Sy Hung, this person took out a long ruler to beat me and said 'If I don't hit you, who will?'”

Later, while staying in the detention room, Dung said criminal suspects told him they had been assigned by a police officer named Le Anh Tuan to beat Dung to force him to submit.

Although he was tortured and forced to confess, in both the first instance and appeal trials, he told RFA that he did not mention in court that he had been beaten and forced to confess for fear that his life would be in danger or he would receive a more severe sentence.

During both trials, Dung said very little. During the appeal hearing, he only said he had no intention of sabotaging the state, so his sentence was reduced by one year.

The reporter called Nghe An Provincial Police and Ho Chi Minh City Police to verify the information Dung provided, but no one picked up the phone.

Shackled and held incommunicado

After the appeal hearing, Dung was sent to serve his sentence at Nam Ha Prison Camp. Like the other prisoners there, he was forced to work weaving sedge and rattan.

Dung demanded to be paid for his labor. When he wrote a protest letter, he was shackled for 10 days, then placed in solitary confinement for two years.

After two years in solitary confinement, he was returned to work with other prisoners without pay. The harsh treatment, especially during the period of shackling and solitary confinement, took a toll on his health. He suffered from osteoarthritis but said the doctor misdiagnosed the illness and gave him a prescription for medicine which his family bought him, but caused stomach problems.

After being transferred to Nam Ha Detention Center and learning of the possibility of not being beaten like he was at Nghi Kim Detention Camp, Dung sent three complaints about his sentence to the Supreme People's Court. He did not receive a response from the court even though prison officials told him that they had forwarded his letters.

He plans to submit an appeal in the near future after receiving treatment to improve his health.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.


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