Activists back demands for an end to cruel treatment of prison inmates, including prisoners of conscience
Rights' activists Nguyen Thuy Hanh (right) and Truong Van Dung on June 29 protest in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, over the mistreatment of political and other prisoners. (Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thuy Hanh)
Rights activists in Vietnam have joined prison inmates on a hunger strike to protest alleged systematic mistreatment of political and other prisoners.
Nguyen Thuy Hanh, a human rights campaigner based in the capital, Hanoi, said she and fellow activist Dao Thu Hue did not eat on July 1 in order "to journey" with prisoners already on a hunger strike.
Two days earlier, she helped organize a small street protest on a Hanoi street in which placards were displayed referring to prisoners being maltreated in the communist government's prison system.
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Sources said at least four political prisoners — Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Van Tuc, Dao Quang Thuc and Tran Phi Dung — have been on hunger strike since June 11 at Prison Camp No. 6 in Nghe An Province located in the North Central Coast region.
The protest was sparked by prison officials removing electric fans from their cells despite temperatures reaching 42 degrees Celsius.
The sources said that four other prisoners of conscience — Le Dinh Luong, Phan Kim Khanh, Nguyen Viet Dung and Nguyen Thanh Tung — have been in placed in solitary confinement in northern Ha Nam Province since mid-June for planning to file complaints over jail conditions.
The eight prisoners are serving prison sentences of between six and 20 years.
On June 28, eight religious and civil society rights groups, together with 132 individuals, asked the national government to order prison officials to end brutal mistreatment of all prisoners, including prisoners of conscience.
They plan to collect online signatures for a petition on the issue to present to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and other senior regime leaders.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International issued a report in May referring to Vietnam having 128 prisoners of conscience, but some local activists maintain that the real figure is twice as high.
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