Prisoner of Conscience Freed From Vietnamese Jail

vietnam-thanh-hoa-province-yen-dinh-district-may11-2015.jpg The map shows Yen Dinh district in Tranh Hoa province.

Vietnamese authorities have terminated the jail term of prisoner of conscience who was arrested in November 2011 for helping other injustice petitioners and sentenced for ‘propagating against the state” in the one-party communist country.

Pham Thi Loc, was serving a 42-month sentence at the number 5 prison in Yen Dinh district of Thanh Hoa province in the north central Vietnam, which authorities handed down in November 2012.

“I was indicted on political charges, but in fact I did not do anything wrong,” she told RFA’s Vietnamese Service. “Bac Giang province authorities charged me for propagating against the state, but my activities were just helping victims of injustice.”

Loc had shared a prison cell with three other female political prisoners—Ta Phong Tan, Nguyen Dang Minh Man, and Can Thi Theu.

Tan, a Vietnamese blogger and Catholic former police officer, is serving a 10-year jail sentence for conducting "anti-state propaganda" in her online writings about social injustice. She was among the first bloggers to write and comment on political events considered off-limits by Vietnamese authorities until she was detained in 2011. Tan was charged sentenced under Article 88 of Vietnam’s criminal code, a provision rights groups say is vaguely defined and used by authorities to silence dissent.

Man was part of a group of 14 bloggers, writers, and social and political activists who were convicted by a central Vietnamese court in January 2013 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government . She is serving an eight-year prison sentence.

Theu, a land activist from Duong Noi, a village in suburban Hanoi known for its long-standing land disputes, was arrested in April 2014 for recording videos of forced evictions. She along with her husband and other farmers were beaten by police. In Sept. of that year, she was sentenced to 15 months in prison for “resisting persons in the performance of their duties” under article 257 of the penal code.

After her release Loc provided details about the physical health of her three former cellmates.

“All of them now are in worse health,” she said. “Theu has arthritis and is frequently sick. Both Man and Tan are the same.”

She said she managed to survive in prison with Buddha’s blessings, and now that she was free she felt as though she had emerged from a “human hell” and was “reborn a second time.”

Loc said that after she had a few days of rest to address her own health issues, which grew worse in prison, she would continue her struggle for truth and justice.

“I don’t know why I had to suffer 42 months in jail when I was innocent,” she said. “I long for the world to know [about such injustices] and that RFA make known the truth and be with us in the coming days as we seek justice.”

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by the Vietnamese Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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