Trinh Ba Tu, a famous land rights activist who was on hunger strike in Prison No. 6 (Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province), was beaten and shackled by the prison’s authorities for several days in solitary confinement.
Tu shared the above information with his father, Mr. Trinh Ba Khiem during his visit on September 20. Mr. Khiem told Radio Free Asia reporter by phone:
“A visit often lasts an hour. At minute 40th, my son said ‘I was beaten, Dad’… and then the prison guards (nearby) rushed in, made a fuss, and pushed my son out of the visitors’ room. My son screamed but it was so loudly there that I couldn’t hear [what he said].”
Before being able to meet his son through a glass door, Mr. Khiem was informed by a prison official that “Tu is being disciplined for writing false accusations, being disciplined only to be able to visit him once every month. As you meet him today, you won’t be able to see Tu again in October.”
Mr. Khiem was also warned, “only to talk about family, not to talk about anything else if violate, the meeting will be stopped immediately and the minutes will be made.”
Reporters could not contact Prison No. 6 through the prison’s phone number published on the Internet to verify the incident.
Mr. Trinh Ba Tu, born in 1989, is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence at Prison No. 6, Thanh Chuong – Nghe An for the crime of “conducting anti-state propaganda.”
Tu and his mother, Mrs. Can Thi Theu as well as his older brother Trinh Ba Phuong, were arrested in mid-2020 after speaking strongly on social networks about the raid of 3,000 mobile policemen in Dong Tam commune on the night of January 9, 2020, on which police killed local communal leader Mr. Le Dinh Kinh.
Connecting the information, Mr. Trinh Ba Khiem said the incident with his son from the beginning of September was as follows:
“According to my summary, Tu had written a denunciation letter and on September 6 was called to a room for a meeting for four to six hours. And he was beaten there.
Tu could not tell me he had been beaten by how many people and for how long.
Then my son was thrown into a discipline room, shackled for 10 days where he had to do everything from sleeping to going to the toilet in the same place.”
However, he did not know what his son filed the complaint about and the prison did not provide this information to him.
At the end of those 10 days, Mr. Tu was no longer shackled, he was initially detained in the area of those with political prisoners, then transferred to the criminal area.
Immediately after being beaten, Trinh Ba Tu went on a hunger strike for 14 days until the day his father visited him, and it is unclear when he would stop his hunger strike.
Trinh Ba Tu looked very thin and pale, but Mr. Khiem did not see any wounds or bruises on his son’s body.
Khiem, who served time in prison for resisting the coercion of his family’s land in Duong Noi commune, said Vietnamese security “knows how to hit without leaving a trace.”
After reporting that he was beaten, Mr. Tu was restrained by the prison guards and taken away, the prison officials immediately made a report with the content “Mr. Tu falsely accused the prison officials of beating him” and wanted Mr. Khiem to sign the minutes but he refused because he did not have enough information about the incident.
He said the family will find all ways to ask the Vietnamese authorities to investigate the fact that his son was beaten while serving a prison sentence in Prison No. 6 and request the Ministry of Public Security to settle his son’s denunciation.