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Le Huu Minh Tuan's Worsening Health in Jail: His Family's Fear for His Life
As the year draws to a close, the activist community in Vietnam has been met with concerning news. Le Huu Minh Tuan, 34, reached out to his family last week, informing them of a significant decline in his health.
Tuan, an editor and an Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) member, was sentenced to 11 years in January 2021 under Article 117 of Vietnam's Penal Code. This specific provision has been a tool frequently utilized against journalists and political dissidents within the country. During Vietnam’s past Universal Periodic Review (UPR) sessions, there have been persistent international appeals for repealing Article 117, citing concerns over freedom of expression and human rights.
Despite these global calls for reform, Vietnam has continued to employ Article 117 as a mechanism to prosecute political dissidents and members of the press, raising significant concerns among human rights advocates worldwide, such as Human Rights Watch's Phil Robertson. Robertson said to RFA Vietnamese that he was worried about Tuan's condition because Vietnam neglected the medical issues of its political prisoners.
Tuan's family informed The Vietnamese Magazine that after he contacted the family via telephone last Monday, they visited him the next day. While Tuan could walk to the visitation area, he limped and moved very slowly. Tuan lost a lot of weight, and he told his family that his health deteriorated to the point that he feared for his life. Tuan further said he could not eat solid food and only tried to have some light porridge for survival. His family is in an emotional crisis right now because they think Tuan will not survive in this condition.
In November 2023, after his family's request, Tuan was sent to a medical center for a check-up, but his family did not know if the health visit provided him with any proper diagnosis. More than that, the medication that the family wanted to send to Tuan was denied by the prison camp.
Tuan has been at Xuyen Moc Prison in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province since July 2022 while his family lives in central Vietnam. The situation has grown increasingly dire with the alarming deterioration of Tuan's health. This development has heightened his family's concerns, compelling them to appeal to the international community urgently. They are seeking support in advocating for Tuan's immediate release on humanitarian grounds, emphasizing the critical nature of his health condition.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued an opinion on Tuan, finding his detention to be arbitrary and calling for his immediate release in June 2021.