Viet Nam’s government must immediately investigate allegations that prison authorities beat and shackled an activist serving an eight-year prison sentence, Amnesty International said today.
“Being beaten, placed in solitary confinement and shackled for days on end amounts to torture or other ill-treatment. Authorities in Viet Nam must urgently investigate these allegations and any perpetrators must be held accountable,” said Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns.
Activist Trinh Ba Tu was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2021 for spreading propaganda against the state, a part of the criminal code routinely used to suppress dissent. His mother and brother, also activists, received similar sentences under the same charge and are also in prison. The family had used social media to raise awareness about land rights among other issues.
According to information gathered by Amnesty International, Tu said he had been punished for filing a report about conditions in the prison, called No. 6, in Nghe An province.
On 6 September 2022, he was allegedly placed in a room for four to six hours, beaten by prison staff, and held in solitary confinement for 10 days with his feet shackled. He went on a hunger strike to protest his mistreatment.
“No person should ever be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The reports about the state of Trinh Ba Tu’s health are also extremely concerning. Amnesty International calls on authorities in Viet Nam to immediately drop charges against Tu and release him and his family members.
“Vietnamese authorities have a long history of targeting Tu and his family for their peaceful activism and work to expose injustice. They should drop charges against anyone imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
In May 2021, Trinh Ba Tu and his mother, Can Thi Theu, were both sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment followed by three years’ probation after being convicted by the People’s Court of Hoa Binh province under Article 117 for “making, storing, or spreading information, materials or items for the purpose of opposing the State of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.”
In December 2021, his brother, Trinh Ba Phuong, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment followed by five years’ probation under the same charge.
Tu’s mother Can Thi Theu is a well-known land rights activist and human rights defender in Viet Nam. She became an activist after her family’s land was confiscated by the authorities in 2010 and became a leading figure of the land rights movement. His father has also spent time in prison for his activism.