Prisoner of Conscience Dao Quang Thuc Dies While Serving His 13-year Imprisonment

Mr. Dao Quang Thuc (middle and first row) at an anti-Formosa protest in Hanoi in May 2016

Defend the Defenders, December 10, 2019


Prisoner of conscience Dao Quang Thuc died on December 10 while serving his 13-year imprisonment in Prison camp No. 6 in Vietnam’s central province of Nghe An, one of the well-known prison facilities with severe living conditions and inhumane treatment of prisoners of conscience by prison’s authorities.

According to his family, Mr. Thuc, 60, was taken to Vinh General Hospital on December 3 for urgent treatment. His family was informed one day later and when they arrived, he fell into a coma.

The medical staff of the hospital said he suffered from brain stroke. His family said he had no record of this disease before being arrested.

His family wants to take his body but police have not agreed, insisting that he will be buried in the prison camp’s cemetery. According to Vietnam’s law, only those who were sentenced to death have to be buried in prison’s cemeteries.

Mr. Duc is a retired teacher in the northern province of Hoa Binh. He participated in peaceful demonstrations in Hanoi in 2016-2017 on environmental issues and protest China’s expansionism in the East Sea (South China Sea).

Due to his writing and sharing on Facebook about human rights and democracy, he was arrested on October 17, 2017 on the allegation of subversion under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. Next year, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison and five years of probation. In the appeal, his imprisonment was reduced to 13 years.

Before being convicted, he was tortured and inhumanely treated by Hoa Binh province’s authorities. After the appeal, he was transferred to Prison camp No. 6 where he and many other prisoners of conscience Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Van Tuc and Tran Phi Dung conducted 40-day hunger strike in May-July this year to protest inhumane treatment.

Along with sentencing activists with lengthy imprisonments by unfair trials, Vietnam’s authorities are keeping them under inhuman treatments and severe living conditions with low-quality food, small cells, and no or poor medical services. Numerous prisoners of conscience have carried out lengthy hunger strikes to protest inhumane treatment in prisons across the nation.

Mr. Thuc was the second prisoner of conscience who died in prison due to poor living conditions this year. Several months ago, Mr. Doan Dinh Nam, a member of An Dan Dai Dao religious sect sentenced to 16 years on subversion, died in Xuyen Moc Prison camp and his death was believed to be a result of poor living conditions in the prison.

Vietnam is holding nearly 240 prisoners of conscience in prisons across the nation, according to Defend the Defenders’ latest statistics.