Convicted Key Members of BFD Transferred to Prisons Far from Their Families

From left to right, up: Mr. Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi. Down: Mr. Truong Minh Duc and Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen

Defend the Defenders, July 12, 2018


Vietnam’s authorities have transferred jailed Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton and businessman Nguyen Bac Truyen to prisons far from ther families, one month after the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi rejected their appeals.

Pastor Ton was transferred to Dak Trung Prison camp in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, about 1,000 km from his native province of Thanh Hoa where his family lives.

Meanwhile, Mr. Truyen was taken to An Diem Prison camp in the central province of Quang Nam, about 850 km from Ho Chi Minh City where his wife stays.

Earlier this month, Vietnam’s authorities also transferred engineer Pham Van Troi, 46, to Ba Sao Prison Camp, about 100 km far from his family in Hanoi.

The trio are founders of the online group Brotherhood for Democracy, together with prominent human rights defender Nguyen Van Dai.

Ton, Truyen,and Troi as well as veteran journalist and labor activist Truong Minh Duc were arrested on July 30 last year and charged with subversion under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. Mr. Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha who were detained in late December 2015 under allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” also were charged with subversion.

At their trial carried out by the People’s Court of Hanoi on April 5 this year, Mr. Ton and Mr. Duc were sentenced to 12 years in prison and three years under house arrest each while Mr. Truyen was given 11 years in prison and three years of probation. Mr. Troi was sentenced to seven years in prison and one year of house arrest.

At their appeal hearing on June 4, the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi upheld their sentences.

Mr. Dai and Ms. Ha were given 15 years and nine years in prison by the People’s Court of Hanoi, but they were released in mid-June and forced to live in exile in Germany.

Last week, Mr. Duc was transferred to Prison camp No. 6 in Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province, about 1,200 km from Ho Chi Minh City. His wife lives in the Vietnamese biggest economic hub.

The five men were former prisoners of conscience before being re-arrested.

In early March 2017, Mr. Ton was brutally beaten by under-covered policemen when he visited the central province of Quang Binh. The assaulters broke his two legs which were still injuried on the day he was arrested.

In recent days, his daughter has been hospitalized for treatment and her life threatened.

Mr. Duc and Mr. Truyen were also beaten many times by plainclothes agents in years before being re-arrested.

Vietnam’s communist government has a policy to transfer prisoners of conscience to prisons far from their families as additional punishment for their human rights and pro-democracy activities. Their families find difficulties to visit and supply them with additional food and other basic needs given the fact that the living conditions in Vietnam’s prisons are hard. Inmates, especially prisoners of conscience,routinelyface alack of food, hygene and medical services.