Political Prisoners in Vietnam Continue to Face Discrimination and Mistreatment

Vietnam’s Political Prisoners Continue to Face Abuses and Mistreatment While in Custody

Nguyen Thi Tam, a political prisoner and land rights activist, told her family that the correctional officers of Thanh Hoa Prison No. 6, where she is being held, had confiscated the notebooks, paper, and pens her family had sent to her and the paintings she drew in prison, without providing any explanation. Nguyen Thanh Mai, Tam’s daughter, wrote on social media that when Tam talked about the unfair treatment and violations of human rights in the Thanh Hoa Prison in a call home last March, a female officer named Hoang Thi Anh Hong argued with Tam and hung up the phone after they only talked for about five minutes. 

The sister of the detained journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, Nguyen Thi Phong, told The 88 Project that she visited him at Detention Center No. 1 in Hanoi on April 3. Phong explained that since Binh is still under investigation, he is still not allowed to have visitors. She could only send Binh some food and money. Binh, a former writer at the Party mouthpiece, The Communist Review, and one of the founders of the pro-democracy group Brotherhood for Democracy, was arrested under Article 117 for his alleged engagement in the distribution of anti-state propaganda.

Nghe An Provincial Prison No. 6 did not allow Bui Van Thuan, a prisoner of conscience from Thanh Hoa Province, to talk to his family in the Muong language when they visited him in August 2023 and February 2024. The prison officers required them to communicate in the Vietnamese language. Thuan, 43, a Muong ethnic minority, is serving a six-year sentence on the conviction of “distribution of anti-state propaganda.” The Muong community in Vietnam is located in a mountainous area southwest of Hanoi.

Thuan’s wife, Trinh Thi Nhung, told RFA that her husband, his parents, and younger brother had difficulty communicating in Vietnamese instead of their mother language. The correctional officers threatened to file a report against Thuan when they occasionally used Muong words for sentences they found hard to express in Vietnamese. Nhung added that Thuan had recently been transferred to the prison’s Camp No. 1, which has harsher living conditions.

More Dong Tam Land Protesters Released, Reveal Harsh Prison Conditions

Two other Dong Tam villagers, Le Dinh Quang and Nguyen Van Quan, were released early on April 9 due to their “good behavior.” 

The Dong Tam Incident, occurring in January 2020 near Hanoi, Vietnam, was a severe conflict ignited by a long-standing land dispute between villagers and the government, which planned to use the disputed land for a military airport. The confrontation escalated when about 3,000 security personnel were deployed, resulting in the deaths of three police officers and the village leader, 84-year-old Le Dinh Kinh.

Earlier, Le Dinh Uy, grandson of Dong Tam village leader Le Dinh Kinh, who was killed that day in a skirmish with the police, was also freed ahead of the completion of his five-year sentence. He had been sentenced to prison for allegedly “resisting officers on public duty” during the incident

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), five of the eight Dong Tam villagers sentenced to prison for resisting the police have now been released. Bui Van Tien and Le Dinh Quan, two other villagers, are expected to be freed in May and June, respectively, this year.

Le Dinh Cong and Le Dinh Chuc, two of Le Dinh Kinh’s sons, were arrested and sentenced to death for their alleged murder of three police officers. However, the circumstances of the officers’ deaths were ambiguous, and the police never produced their bodies. Du Thi Thanh, Kinh’s wife, told RFA that the family still visits her two sons monthly at a detention center in Hanoi. The police strictly monitor their meetings and only allow them to discuss health issues.

The family also revealed that both Cong and Chic suffered from diseases in prison. Le Dinh Cong reportedly developed an unknown skin rash, which has worsened due to unclean water in the facility and the fact that he has been denied medication supplied by his family. Meanwhile, Le Dinh Chuc has muscle atrophy, which makes one side of his body unable to function normally. Family members say Chuc told them he doesn’t believe he will survive under these conditions for another year.

Woman Sentenced to 12 Years for Participation in Banned Organization

On April 15, a court in Long An Province sentenced Nguyen Thi Bach Hue to 12 years in prison for her alleged participation in “activities against the people’s government,” according to the Voice of America Vietnamese language service. Hue, 60, has reportedly become a member of the Provisional National Government of Vietnam, a U.S.-headquartered organization the Vietnamese Public Security Ministry has declared a “terrorist group.” Hue was arrested in April 2023.

According to state media, the court verdict accused Hue of receiving 10 million dong from that organization to “slander, defame, and insult the government and the leaders” of Vietnam and that she also “used social media platforms to encourage people to overthrow the Vietnamese state.” It added that in early 2020, Hue went to Ho Chi Minh City to meet a Vietnamese woman who had returned from the United States and lured her into joining the Provisional Government of Vietnam.

State media added that three other group members, Vu Dinh Lan, who lives in Dak Lak Province, and Nguyen Thi Ranh and Nguyen Thi Chinh, who live in Tien Giang Province, were also arrested. The State Department’s 2022 human rights report declared that at least 19 people involved in the activities of the Provisional National Government of Vietnam have been sentenced to between five and 16 years in prison on charges of “conducting anti-government activities.”

U.S. Firm’s Vietnam Coal Deal ‘Undermines’ Climate Goal: Report

Nikkei Asia:

“A U.S. company’s planned sale of its coal assets in Vietnam, a measure to help it hit its green targets, might end up allowing for more carbon emissions, new research suggests.

New York-listed AES plans to sell its 51% stake in northern Vietnam’s Mong Duong 2 coal plant to Czech investor Sev.en as part of efforts to rid its portfolio of the fossil fuel by 2025.

This might help AES eventually meet its net-zero emissions goal but do nothing for the planet as coal continues to burn, which “undermines” the company’s green strategy, says the Anthropocene Fixed Income Institute, a nonprofit think tank.”

Cooling the “Blazing Furnace” of Vietnam’s Anti-Corruption Drive

Fulcrum/ Nguyen Khac Giang/ April 16

“In addition, the government needs to improve the working environment through better management and increased transparency. The Vietnamese public sector remains extremely hierarchical and vulnerable to favouritism, where one’s performance is often evaluated not by concrete criteria but by written (but subjective) evaluations from direct supervisors and colleagues. This context hardly motivates cadres to be “daring and innovative” as proposed in Degree 73. Furthermore, it exacerbates the “brain drain” problem, particularly among young and capable officials who might be inexperienced in office politics.”

More migrants crossing the Channel are from Vietnam than anywhere else

The Telegraph/  Charles Hymas/ April 15

“The number of Vietnamese crossing the Channel more than doubled last year from 505 in 2022 to 1,323. The rise has continued this year to make them the biggest cohort of Channel migrants, with Border Force reporting small boats packed with up to 20 Vietnamese migrants

Tougher security on lorries and the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry trailer in Essex in 2019 has seen them divert away from road routes to small boats.

Vietnamese migrants tend to be trafficked by gangs into nail bars, cannabis farms, restaurants and the sex trade in the UK, which is why crime bosses have preferred lorries rather than small boats, where migrants are likely to be detained by Border Force.”


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