Vietnamese prisoners allowed health checks after a year of requests

The inmates said their health was suffering because of harsh conditions.
By RFA Vietnamese
Vietnamese prisoners allowed health checks after a year of requests Luu Van Vinh (left) and Huynh Minh Tam.
Family photographs/RFA edit

Two political prisoners in Vietnam’s Gia Trung Prison have finally been given health checkups after almost a year of requests, their families told Radio Free Asia.

Luu Van Vinh is serving a 15-year sentence for “activities aimed at overthrowing the government” while Huynh Minh Tam is serving eight years for “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

Vinh’s wife, Le Thi Thap, said her husband told her the two were only allowed to be examined at Gia Lai Provincial General Hospital because no other prisoners had applied.

She said examination results showed her husband had bone and joint disease, while Tam needed treatment for toothache.

Vinh told his wife prisoners’ health was suffering because of the harsh conditions in the prison. He said inmates refused to eat the pork served at mealtimes because it smelled bad. He added the detention areas had no shade and the tiny cells were only cooled by small fans, which made the summer heat unbearable.

RFA Vietnamese called Gia Trung Prison to verify the information but no one answered the phone.

Tran Thi Ngoc Xuan (left) and Huynh Thuc Vy. (Family photographs/RFA edit)

Female prisoners at Gia Trung also complained about the conditions, saying they had to live with the smell of raw sewage.

Two of the women, Tran Thi Ngoc Xuan and Huynh Thuc Vy, share a cell, with Xuan serving a 13-year prison sentence for subversion over her involvement in the U.S.-based Dao Minh Quan exile organization. Vy was sentenced to 33 months for “insulting the national flag.”

During a visit from relatives this month, Xuan said her cell was heavily affected by the smell from a nearby wastewater pipe. 

“During a recent meeting with Xuan at Gia Trung Prison, I noticed that her health was not very good, her skin was pale,” said a relative who didn’t want to give their name for fear of reprisals.

“She said the cell was near a wastewater discharge point and the stench was so unpleasant that she couldn’t sleep at night. During the day, whenever possible, she had to leave the cell to go to a place with fresher air.”

The relative said the two prisoners have been reporting the problem for two years but the prison had done nothing about it.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.


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