Guards beat Vietnamese political prisoners for staging protest

The men also had their feet shackled for more than a week.


RFA | 2023.10.15

Two prisoners of conscience – Trinh Ba Phuong and Phan Van Hai – were beaten and had their feet shackled in a Vietnamese prison, the family of one of the inmates told Radio Free Asia.

The two were protesting against harsh treatment and human rights violations in Quang Nam province’s An Diem Prison.

Phuong is serving a 10-year term for “anti-state propaganda” under article 117 of the criminal code. Hai is serving a five-year sentence for the same offense.

Phuong told his sister Trinh Thi Thao about the harsh treatment during a visit on Oct. 12 and she shared the information with Radio Free Asia the following day.

“On Sept. 9, 2023, at Division 34, Phuong, Dung Truong [Truong Van Dung], Phan Cong Hai and Pham Van Diep staged a protest holding a banner 'Down with Communists for violating human rights,'” Thao told RFA Vietnamese.

“ … suddenly Tran Thanh Viet, head of Camp No. 2, accompanied by more than 10 policemen, rushed in to take the banners of Phuong and others.

“ … the prison guards rushed into the protesting group, beat them, and then took them away for discipline.

“This group of policemen also strangled Phuong and pushed him against the wall, beating him and bruising his chest.

After that, an An Diem prison warden handcuffed Phuong and took him to the disciplinary area where he was shackled for 10 days.”

Phuong told his sister that Dung and Hai were also beaten.

The story was corroborated by Hoang Duc Nguyer, the younger brother of Hoang Duc Binh who is also being held in Division 34.

Binh told his brother he witnessed the protest and the prison warden’s response.

Phuong told his family that after his leg shackles were removed, he wrote a letter denouncing his beating and sent it to the Procuracy of Quang Nam province. He said he still hasn’t received a response.

Phuong, Dung and some other political prisoners also staged a protest on Sept. 2, demonstrating against China’s actions in the disputed South China Sea.

While the prison guards confiscated their banners there was no violence on that occasion and no one was disciplined, Phuong said.

RFA called the prison to ask about the claims but nobody answered. A reporter also called the Procuracy of Quang Nam province, but was told he needed to come to the agency to meet with officials in person.

Article 10 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgments prohibits "torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment,” while Article 27 says prisoners have the right to "protected life, health and property, and respect for honor and dignity."

In 2015, Vietnam also became a member of the U.N.’s Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.



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