Family Members, Activists Beaten by ‘Thugs’ During Vietnam Prison Visit
RFA – 07/12/2019
More than 20 social activists and relatives of political prisoners were attacked
by assailants wearing civilian clothes when they attempted to visit a detention
center in north-central Vietnam’s Nghe An province on Friday, members of the
The attackers used helmets and clubs to beat the
group, which included women and elderly family members, with at least one of
those assaulted recognizing those attacking them as plainclothes policemen and
ordinary criminals, one member of the group said.
“Yes, I recognized them, because I was also
imprisoned in this camp in the past,” Trinh Ba Khiem, a former political
prisoner at Nghe An’s Camp No. 6, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service in a phone
A prison officer named Du, had appeared to
direct the assault against the visiting group, Khiem said, adding that a
prisoner named Phuong serving a 20-year sentence on a drug charge was also
present with other criminals among the attackers.
“The police let them out to attack us,” Khiem
Among those attacked was Nguyen Thuy Hanh,
founder of the 50K Fund to support political prisoners’ families, who said that
police had at first blocked her visiting group’s approach to Camp No. 6.
“The police stopped us from entering the area by
moving a large truck so that our car couldn’t pass. We then had to walk, and
about 50 men began to attack us,” she said.
'Four or five men jumped him'
Hanh said the assailants first attacked her
husband, Huynh Ngoc Chenh, a former journalist for the Thanh Nien (Youth)
Newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City and later a popular blogger and freelance
journalist, who was leading the group.
“He had argued with them when they blocked our
way,” she said.
“Four or five men jumped him, and I shouted out
and rushed in trying to save him, and then a thug hit me and punched me in the
nose. They trampled me down into a ditch and then attacked the rest of us.”
Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh, the wife of jailed
journalist Truong Minh Duc, was not allowed to visit her husband, but was beaten
and forced to walk from the camp while still recovering from a recent abdominal
operation, Hanh said.
At least four political prisoners at Camp No.
6—including Truong Minh Duc, Dao Quang Thuc, Nguyen Van Tuc, and Tran Phi
Dung—are believed to be now on hunger strike to protest poor conditions in
detention, including the removal of electric fans from cells in the soaring
Vietnam now holds an estimated 128 prisoners of
conscience , according to a May 13, 2019 report by rights group Amnesty
Nguyen Kim Binh of the Vietnam Human Rights
Network said in December however that the one-party communist state is currently
detaining more than 200 political prisoners.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
Translated by Channhu Hoang. Written in English by Richard Finney.