Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Vietnamese authorities to investigate allegations of the beating and shackling of prisoner of conscience Trinh Ba Tu.
HRW issued a media release on Thursday urging authorities to open an investigation into the alleged actions of prison guards at Prison No. 6, at Thanh Chuong township in Nghe An province.
The statement by the New York-based human rights organization was released two days after Tu’s father, Trinh Ba Khiem, said his son had been punished for filing a complaint against the prison.
“There needs to be an urgent, transparent, and impartial investigation of Trinh Ba Tu’s serious accusations that prison guards shackled and beat him,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division.
“That kind of treatment is outrageous and unacceptable, and the perpetrators should be held accountable for maltreating prisoners.”
Robertson said dissidents imprisoned in Vietnam are regularly subjected to harassment and inhumane treatment. He said he saw little possibility of Vietnamese authorities investigating these allegations.
“Foreign diplomats and UN officials should request that Vietnamese authorities allow them to visit Trinh Ba Tu and conduct interviews with him to get to the bottom of this matter,” said HRW in its statement.
Tu’s sister-in-law, Do Thi Thu, sent a petition to Vietnam’s President, the Chairman of the National Assembly, the Minister of Public Security, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the People’s Procuracy of Nghe An province.
She asked them to explain to Tu’s family why her brother-in-law was beaten, tortured and shackled.
“When I heard that Tu was beaten and was on a hunger strike, my family was very worried about him,” said Thu, who is married to another prisoner of conscience, Trinh Ba Phuong.
“My family does not know why he was beaten and shackled. My family doesn’t know if he is still being beaten or on a hunger strike.”
This is the second time Tu has been beaten by Vietnamese police in prison. When arrested in mid-June 2020, his beating by police in Hoa Binh province caused kidney damage.
According to former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Hai (aka blogger Dieu Cay), who was imprisoned for many years in many prisons, Prison No. 6 is the most draconian in Vietnam.
In early August, citizen journalist Do Cong Duong died while serving an eight-year prison sentence there, despite being healthy when he was arrested.