Prisoners of Conscience Protest Harsh Conditions in Nghe An Prison No. 6

Prisoners of Conscience Protest Harsh Conditions in Nghe An Prison No. 6

Notable events:

  • Prisoners of Conscience Protest Harsh Conditions in Nghe An Prison No. 6
  • Social Media Users Charged With ‘Subversion’ for Publishing Alleged Anti-State Information
  • Family of Blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen Unable to Contact Him Since His Arrest
  • Former Campaigner Dang Thi Hue Detained by Security Agents Without Prior Notice
  • Media Company Fined for Violation of Cybersecurity Law

Prisoners of Conscience Protest Harsh Conditions in Nghe An Prison No. 6

Prisoners of conscience Bui Van Thuan and Dang Dinh Bach, both held in Nghe An Prison No. 6 in Thanh Chuong District, Nghe An Province, have protested harsh prison conditions and urged the correctional authorities to improve the treatment of inmates. 

Thuan, 45, a school teacher who received an eight-year sentence for his alleged posting of anti-state materials, protested the ill-treatment of political inmates with a five-day hunger strike starting May 25, according to his wife, Trinh Thi Nhung. Nhung said that the living conditions of Thuan are below acceptable standards, with he and two other inmates confined in a small and cramped cell with no adequate space for movement or exercise. She added that the room lacked ventilation and that Thuan’s health had worsened as a result of this maltreatment.

The family of climate activist and community lawyer Dang Dinh Bach has also petitioned the Board of Prison Wardens to improve his living conditions. Bach shared his cell with Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a prominent political prisoner imprisoned on “subversion” charges. Bach and Thuc have initiated several hunger strikes in response to harsh treatment and inadequate food rations.

Bach, who is on a vegetarian diet, was left without food for two weeks last March because he ran out of supplies sent by his family while the prison authorities refused to provide him with meals. The correctional authorities of Nghe An Prison  No. 6 have also denied Bach access to essential items, such as his books, toiletries, hot water, and traditional medicine to cure his chronic asthma.

Social Media Users Charged With ‘Subversion’ for Publishing Alleged Anti-State Information

The Provincial People's Procuracy of Tien Giang indicted two local social media users on May 20 on charges of “organizing activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s government.”

The procuracy alleged that between 2019 and 2023, Nguyen Duc Thanh, 56, who lives in Chau Thanh District, and Nhut Kim Binh, 47, a resident of Tan Phuoc District, had used their personal Facebook accounts to publish 13 postings that contained “distorted content that defamed the people’s government, smeared Party leaders, and aimed to sabotage the state.”

Also, according to the indictment, Thanh had applied to join the U.S.-based organization “Provisional National Government of Vietnam,” classified as a “terrorist group” by the Ministry of Public Security.

After he joined the organization, Thanh reportedly changed the name of his Facebook account from “Thanh Nguyen” to “Tran Nhan” to contact the group's leaders and participate in closed-door training to learn how to conduct operations against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the procuracy said. Meanwhile, Binh was accused of propagating the group’s manifesto, “The Third Constitution of the Republic of Vietnam,” to entice many people into opposing the state.

On October 22, 2021, the Tien Giang Provincial Police Department fined Thanh 7.5 million dong ($295) on allegations of “sharing false information to distort and defame the reputation, honor, and dignity of individuals,” but he has not paid the fine. The police did not make public the alleged distorted content. Thanh was arrested three years later, on January 19, 2024, while Binh was detained on August 8, 2023.

Family of Blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen Unable to Contact Him Since His Arrest

The 88 Project, a human rights advocacy group, reported that the family of blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen has been unable to contact him since his arrest on Feb. 29. The Hanoi Police Department arrested Tuyen on charges of “distributing anti-state propaganda,” a violation of Article 117 in Vietnam’s Penal Code. The police also searched his home and seized his laptop, cell phone, and several handwritten documents.

Tuyen’s family said they had been regularly sending supplies to him, but the detention authorities did not confirm whether or not he had received them. Tuyen, also known by his pen name Anh Chí, is a blogger and human rights advocate who often joined rallies against China’s excursions in Vietnamese territorial waters. Because of his vocal activism, the Hanoi blogger had been under constant government surveillance, which began after he protested against the discharge of untreated wastewater from the Taiwan-owned Formosa Co. steel plant in 2016.

In 2015, Tuyen was left with severe injuries after being beaten by several individuals, possibly plainclothes police officers, during a demonstration. As a blogger, he also established two YouTube channels to publish videos and host live streams about social issues in Vietnam. The police summoned Tuyen for questioning about several of his live streams in 2023. He was subsequently subjected to a travel ban.

Former Campaigner Dang Thi Hue Detained by Security Agents Without Prior Notice

The 88 Project has reported that Dang Thi Hue, a former political prisoner, said security agents in Thai Binh Province “kidnapped” her on May 16 while she was running errands. She revealed that the agents consisted of four men and two women, and only one wore a police uniform. These plainclothes agents reportedly held Hue in detention for a day without informing her family about the incident.

Hue is a campaigner who held multiple protests against the establishment of “dirty” toll booths in Vietnam. Many drivers and local residents have expressed their anger and discontent towards these toll booths, as transportation authorities shook hands with private businesses to build these facilities and overcharge drivers who pass through these gates. The campaigner was released in 2023 after spending 39 months in prison.

According to Hue, her father had a heart attack when he learned about the alleged abduction, but fortunately, her younger sister, a medical staff in Thai Binh, quickly returned home and saved him. Hue was released the following day and told The 88 Project she was healthy. However, this incident has had a psychological effect on her son, a grade-school student, as he is now afraid to go outside with her, thinking that he could be arrested.

Media Company Fined for Violation of Cybersecurity Law

A Vietnamese media company has received a 15 million dong ($589) fine under the Cybersecurity Law for running advertisements on a YouTube channel that allegedly contains “distorted and defamatory content of state and party leaders.”

State media reported that the Department of Radio, Television, and Electronic Information, a division of the Ministry of Information and Communications, has accused Inverse Media Co., Ltd., an advertising company in Ho Chi Minh City, of running advertisements for a milk product produced by Nestlé Vietnam Co., on a YouTube channel named Hot News 247, which reportedly contains information that “violates legal regulations.”

The telecommunication authorities declared that the videos on this YouTube channel violated Clause 1, Article 8 of the Cybersecurity Law. This penal code criminalizes the defamation of the Communist Party and state leaders. The authorities cited Clause 2a, Article 38 of Decree No. 38/2021/ND-CP for the legal basis in this case, but it did not publicly specify the advertisement's specific content. Aside from the fine, Inverse Media Co. must remove any advertisements from the above-mentioned YouTube channel within ten days of receiving the removal request.

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Vietnam's Leadership Upheaval Signals Regime's Security Focus

Nikkei Asia/ Nhu Truong/ May 28

“Structural reforms have invigorated party functions and fused party institutions with the state security apparatus. In 2013, Trong formed the Politburo Central Steering Committee on Anti-Corruption to fire the starting gun on his campaign. Three years later, To Lam became chief of the Central Public Security Party Committee and the Ministry of Public Security, effectively merging the party and state agencies.

Further reforms in 2018 systematically restructured the Ministry of Public Security into "a focused and lean machine for effective work." Over 1,500 provincial subdivisions were cut, and departments with overlapping functions were consolidated to effectively centralize authority under the police.”

Vietnam's Shift Back to Coal is Under EU Scrutiny

DW/ David Hutt/ May 27

“However, Vietnam now faces stiffer competition from the likes of Thailand and Malaysia for tech investment, meaning Hanoi must prove it can keep energy flowing into factories.

According to World Bank data, Vietnam faces competition to attract higher-end microchip manufacturers as its infrastructure is less developed and its worker productivity rates are weaker than those of some of its Southeast Asian peers.

Hanoi has turned back to coal to prevent more power cuts this year, a prerequisite for attracting advanced semiconductor fabrication, a high-precision industry extremely sensitive to power disruptions.”

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