THE VIETNAMESE MAGAZINE
September 26, 2022
Trinh Ba Tu, a prominent Vietnamese land rights activist currently serving eight years in prison at Nghe An Province No.6 Prison, was allegedly beaten and shackled by the prison guards for many days while being held in solitary confinement. Trinh Ba Khiem, Tu’s father, told RFA that he learned about the maltreatment during a visit to his son on September 20.
According to Khiem, the prison guards interrupted their conversation, which lasted for 40 minutes, and forcefully pushed Trinh Ba Tu out of the visitation room after claiming he was beaten in custody. One prison official later informed Khiem that Tu was being disciplined for “writing defamatory letters” and that he will only be allowed family visitation every two months from now on instead of the usual monthly allowance.
Tu, 33, was known for his activism opposing illegal land confiscations and promoting freedom of expression in Vietnam. He was imprisoned for eight years in May 2021 for “distributing anti-State propaganda” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. Trinh Ba Phuong and Can Thi Theu, Tu’s brother and mother, are also serving 10 and eight years in jail, respectively, under the same “anti-State” charges.
Trinh Ba Tu’s family, on September 21, sent an urgent letter to Vietnamese government officials requesting an investigation into his alleged torture in prison. The letter noted that Tu had decided to carry out a hunger strike for 14 days since his last visitation to protest maltreatment by prison guards.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, on September 22, requested “an urgent, transparent, and impartial investigation of Trinh Ba Tu’s serious accusations that prison guards shackled and beat him,” while adding that “[h]arassment, retaliation, and abuses are sadly a regular part of Vietnam’s treatment of political dissidents held in detention.”
“That kind of treatment is outrageous and unacceptable, and the perpetrators should be held accountable for maltreating prisoners. Foreign diplomats and UN officials should request the Vietnam authorities allow them to visit Trinh Ba Tu, and conduct interviews with him to get to the bottom of this matter,” Robertson said.
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