Prominent Vietnamese Rights Defender Released From Prison

vietnam-bui-thi-minh-hang-prison-release-feb11-2017.jpg Relatives and supporters greet prominent Vietnamese rights defender Bui Thi Minh Hang (2nd from R) upon her release from Gia Trung prison camp in Vietnam's Central Highlands, Feb. 11, 2017.

Vietnamese authorities released prominent human rights defender and blogger Bui Thi Minh Hang on Saturday after she served a three-year prison sentence.

The activist had been held in Gia Trung prison camp in the country’s Central Highlands since Feb. 11, 2014, on charges of “causing public disorder” and obstructing traffic when she and two other bloggers were on their way to visit a former political prisoner.

She was later sentenced in August of that year to up to three years in jail after a one-day trial in Dong Thap in the Mekong Delta region, on what rights activists said were phony and politically motivated charges.

While she was detained, Hang went on a hunger strike to protest her arrest.

“My health at this moment is relatively stable, but because I have been in prison for too long, going back out it’s like a whole new place,” she said.

“I’m now free—free meaning free from prison—yet we all know that whoever lives in Vietnam will never have freedom—not yet,” she said.

“I think I will continue my fight for democratic fairness,” Hang said. “I was jailed unjustly, so I will fight more for myself and for all the people in Vietnam.”

Hang’s relatives, supporters, and an RFA reporter were at the scene when Hang was released. Traffic police escorted her back to Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2011, Hang staged peaceful demonstrations condemning what many Vietnamese see as Chinese intrusions into Vietnamese territory in the disputed South China Sea.

In November of that year, authorities sent Hang to the Thanh Ha Education Center in Binh Xuyen district, Vinh Phuc province, after arresting her a day earlier outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City for allegedly “causing public disorder.” She was freed the following year.

Reported by Chan Nhu Hoang for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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