Prominent Political Prisoner Disciplined for Refusing Forced, Unpaid Labor




By Vu Quoc Ngu - Defend the Defenders

August 21, 2016


Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, the prominent political dissident serving his 16-year imprisonment in Prison No. 6 in the central province of Nghe An, has been left without electricity as the prisonís authorities cut off electricity in his room during hot summer period in one of the hottest regions in Vietnam as a discipline for his refusal of working without being paid.


Earlier, the prisonís authorities demanded him to work for eight hours every day, particularly making paper votive. He refused to do the job after the prison did not agree to signs labor contract and pay him sufficiently.


Protestant pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, who is serving his 11-year imprisonment in An Phuc Prison in Vietnamís southern province of Binh Duong, and three other colleagues are conducting their hunger strike from August 8 to protest inhumane treatment of the prisonís authorities.


Police continue to harass local activists and this time the victim is blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy, vice president of unsanctioned Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN). The Security Investigation Agency in Hanoi on August 17 summoned him to ask him for ďdrafting and signingĒ a petition against police torture. Earlier this year, the same agency detained blogger Ngo Duy Quyen several times in the case, and searched him private residence and confiscated a number of personal items, including laptops, cell phones, and book and money. The agency still keeps these items as well as money despite strong protest from the activist.


Some legislators have disagreed with the proposal of the Ministry of Public Security to give more power to police forces at communal level, saying they may abuse the power given their limited educational background and professional training. Dozens of people in rural areas have been killed and severely injured in the past few years due to communal policeís torture.


Vietnam says a recent report by the U.S. Department of State on the freedom of religion and belief in Vietnam is not objective and one-sided, asking Washington to be more objective on Vietnamís religious and belief practices, in order to make a correct assessment in conformity with the two countriesí growing relations. On August 10, the Department of State continued to accuse Vietnam of using violence on several religious groups, detaining and prosecuting them, restricting their travel, refusing to license their operations and hindering their activities in education and health care.


After the 13th Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in Hanoi in early August, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released its statement expressing the countryís concern regarding ongoing restrictions on civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, association and assembly.  Canberra reiterated its serious concerns about the harassment, arrest and detention of peaceful human rights activists.  Australia requested the release of all persons detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and raised particular cases of concern. It also requested access to visit such persons and to be allowed to observe trials.


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