Retired Teacher Tortured in Pre-trial Detention for Allegation of Subversion

Mr. Dao Quang Thuc

Defend the Defenders, April 23, 2018

Retired teacher Dao Quang Thuc, who was arrested on October 5 last year on allegation of subversion, has been tortured and inhumanely treated in pre-trial detention, the family informed Defend the Defenders.

Ms. Dao Trang, the daughter of Mr. Thuc, said her father has been held incommunicado since being arrested until recently when he was hospitalized as a result of being badly treated by police. Only after taking him to a provincial hospital and later to the Hanoi-based 19/8 Police Hospital, did police allow the family to make short visits with presence of police officers.

Mr. Thuc, who is charged with “carrying out attempts to overthrow the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code, is held in the Cham Mat temporary detention facility under the authority of the police in Hoa Binh province, around 80 km from the capital city of Hanoi.

During a short visit with his family last week, Mr. Thuc told them that in the first two months of detention, he was tortured by investigation officers who had also ordered the detention facility to leave him without food.

The family was not permitted to supply food nor send money for him to purchase food from the detention facility’s canteen, as other detainees can. He was allowed to receive family’s supports from the third month, his daughter said.

During interrogation, four police officers beat to coerce for confession, he told his family. Trang said once she was invited to go to the detention facility to work with police about his father’s activities, she met a dranken officer namely Tu who told her that he had just conducted an interrogation with her father.

Due to inhumane treatments of police, her father has suffered a number of diseases including mental breakdown and high blood pressure, Trang told Defend the Defenders, adding he was healthy in September last year, one month after retiring as a teacher in  Trieu Phuc Lich primary school, Toan Son commune, Da Bac district.

Trang said police have also summoned her mother and brother to police station where they force them to talk about her father’s activities that they had no knowledge.

Mr. Thuc has not been allowed to meet with a lawyer, Trang said.

The arrest of Mr. Thuc was part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local dissent. The retired teacher was said to be connected with Dao Minh Quan, a Vietnamese American calling for overthrowing the Vietnamese communist regime by all means. His daughter told Defend the Defenders that police found her father’s letter in which he asked to join the organization established by Quan, who declared himself as the prime minister of  a government in exile.

Some sources informed Defend the Defenders that when police searched Mr. Thuc’s house in Hoa Binh province, they had found some weapons. However, his daughter affirmed that her father bought an old hand-made gun long time ago just for decoration.

Thuc has never been a member of any civil organization, a Hanoi-based activist claimed.

If convicted, Mr. Thuc may face life imprisonment even death penalty, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Last year, Vietnam arrested more than 40 activists and charged them with vague articles in the national security provisions of the 1999 Penal Code such as subversion (Article 79) and “conducting anti-State propaganda” (Article 88).

Since June last year, dozens of activists have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy imprisonments of between three and 16 years by short trials which failed to meet international standards for fair trials.

As many as 19 activists have been convicted and sentenced to a total 156 years and six months in jail and 46 years of probation afterward. Prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 15 years in prison and five years under house arrest while environmentalist and labor activist Hoang Duc Binh was given 14 years in prison.