A Vietnamese workers’ rights activist handed a nine-year sentence in 2010 for helping to launch a strike was released at the weekend after serving his full term in prison, sources in the country told RFA on Sunday.
Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung had been held at the Xuyen Moc prison in southeastern coastal Vietnam’s Ba Ria - Vung Tau province and was warmly greeted by friends and supporters on his return, another activist and former prisoner told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“I’m so happy now, because a colleague is coming home after nine years,” said Do Thi Minh Hanh, who was sentenced with Hung and served four years of a seven-year sentence before her release in poor health.
“This is what people feel who have endured hardships together in a common fight,” Hanh said, adding, “Today, I see him coming home in person and with a strong and unbroken will.”
“Nothing could be more excellent,” she said.
Hung is now much thinner than when he was arrested, Hanh said, recalling that during the initial investigation of their case, Hung had kept silent to protect two colleagues arrested with him, and had suffered severe beatings at the hands of the police.
Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung was accused of inciting workers to go on strike at the My Phong footwear company in Tra Vinh province in southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, where thousands protested in January and February 2010 for better working conditions and higher wages.
Hung was sentenced on Oct. 27 that year to nine years in prison on charges of disturbing public order and “acting against the people’s administration,” according to Article 89 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.
Sentenced alongside Hung were two other activists, Do Thi Minh Hanh—who received a seven-year term for leafleting in support of striking workers—and Doan Huy Chuong, who was also handed a seven-year sentence.
While in prison, Hanh was frequently shackled and repeatedly beaten, both by guards and by common criminals who had been urged by police to attack her, Hanh’s mother told a U.S. congressional commission in January 2014 while calling for international support to press for Hanh’s release.
Hanh was released without explanation, but in poor health, in June of that year, three years before her sentence ended.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Richard Finney.