Blogger news

Vietnamese blogger returned to prison after three years in a psychiatric hospital — Radio Free Asia

A Vietnamese blogger detained for three years in a mental hospital awaiting trial for criticizing Vietnam’s one-party communist state has been returned to his former detention center on the orders of the Hanoi Police Investigation Agency , learned FRG.

Le Anh Hung, a member of online advocacy group Brotherhood of Democracy, was returned to the agency’s No. 1 Detention Center on May 10 following a decision by police investigators the day before, said his mother Tran Thi Nem told RFA in a recent interview. .

His trial will now take place in a few months, Nem said.

Hung, who had logged into Voice of America, was arrested on July 5, 2018 for “abusing democratic freedoms to harm state interests” under Article 331 of Vietnam’s criminal code. If found guilty at trial, he could serve up to seven years in prison.

He was transferred in April 2019 for “observation and treatment” from prison to the National Institute of Forensic Psychiatry in Hanoi, where he was beaten and forcibly injected with psychiatric drugs, including a powerful sedative that left him unconscious. , to treat his supposed mental illness, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

While detained in hospital, Hung was confined with 15 female patients, journalist Huynh Ngoc Chenh – the husband of prisoner of conscience Nguyen Thuy Hanh, also detained at the Institute – told RFA following of a meeting with his wife on May 6. However, security guards and hospital staff had prevented Hanh and Hung from talking to each other, Chenh said.

Prisoners at Gia Trung Detention Center are shown returning from work in an undated photo. Photo: State Media

Held in cell all day

Meanwhile, political prisoners held at Gia Trung Detention Center in Dak Lak, a province in Vietnam’s central highlands, are kept in their cells all day, with only one hour allowed outside for meals. , for refusing forced labor, relatives of the prisoners mentioned.

Prisoners convicted of political crimes have been subjected to ill-treatment at the centre, said Le Khanh Duy, the former husband of prisoner of conscience Huynh Thuc Vy, citing a phone call Huynh made to her family members on 16 may.

“Vy told me that the political prisoners in the detention center are being persecuted,” Le Khanh Duy told RFA this week. “They are locked in their cells all day for refusing to go to work and are only allowed out for one hour a day to eat their meals.”

Vy, who is serving a 33-month prison sentence for “offending the national flag” under Article 276 of Vietnam’s penal code, also reported being harassed by common prisoners suspected of acting under the order to make the lives of political prisoners “more difficult”, Duy mentioned.

Other political prisoners held at Gia Trung include Nguyen Trung Ton, a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence, and Luu Van Vinh, a member of the National Coalition for Self-Determination of Vietnam, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence. term.

Phan Van Thu, the leader of a religious group called the Bia Son Law and Public Affairs Council, named after a mountain in Vietnam’s coastal Phu Yen province, is also serving a life sentence at the center.

Speaking to RFA, Luu Van Vinh’s wife, Le Thi Thap, said her husband had previously been allowed to leave his cell twice a day but was now under tougher restrictions.

“Vinh and other inmates do not go out to work, so had to stay in their cells while others work outside, but they were allowed out for a while at noon and then later in the morning. afternoon,” Thap said.

“But I heard things got worse since last month, so now I want to visit my husband and ask him about it in person,” she said.

“No forced labor”

The use of forced labor in Vietnamese prisons has been strongly criticized by human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

In August 2020, the Vietnam Times Magazinea publication of the Union of Friendship Organizations of Vietnam (VUFO) published an article titled “There is no forced labor in Vietnam”.

Arranging for prisoners to work is “a demonstration of humanity in the policies of the Vietnamese government and Communist Party”, wrote the author of the article, Nguyen Van Dieu, an official with the management department of the centers. custody of the Ministry of Public Security.

Calls seeking comment to the Gia Trung detention center went unanswered this week.

Translated by Anna Vu for the Vietnamese service of RFA. Written in English by Richard Finney.