Vietnamese democracy advocate and blogger Phan Kim Khanh, who is serving a six-year jail sentence for “spreading propaganda against the state” will submit a complaint to his local court after officials there failed to respond to an appeal he previously filed, his mother said Sunday.
The 25-year-old student was arrested in March 2017 for “abusing rights to freedom and democracy to do harm to the state’s interests and those of organizations and individuals” and was sentenced to six years in jail and four years of probation.
Police investigators in the northern city of Thai Nguyen say Truong violated Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code by creating video clips and Facebook posts accusing civil service workers and state organizations in the judiciary — both in Thai Nguyen and in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi — of wrongdoing.
Khanh, who has maintained his innocence, submitted an earlier appeal to the court, but officials did not respond, his mother Do Thi Lam told RFA’s Vietnamese Service, after visiting him on Sunday at Ba Sao Prison in northern Vietnam’s Ha Nam province.
“On Jan. 29, Khanh told his sister that after Tet, he would send his petition to the Thai Nguyen People’s Court, because he did not plead guilty and becuase he had sent an appeal to the court, but got no answer,” Do said, referring to Vietnam’s New Year holiday which fell on Feb. 5 this year.
“He asked us whether we had received a notice 15 days after the appeal trial request, but we hadn’t received anything,” she said. “Khanh told the family that he would send a petition.”
RFA called the Thai Nguyen People’s Court for comment, but no one answered.
Other family members and fellow activists visited Khanh the same day and reported that he was in good health and spirits, according to an update on the online Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database by The 88 Project, a group that supports and encourages freedom of expression in Vietnam.
Poisoned prison soup?
Tran Hoang Phuc, another student and prisoner of conscience serving time, told his mother, Huynh Thi Ut, that he has not been eating soup provided by prison officials because he fears poisoning, the woman told RFA after a visit to see her son at the An Phuoc Detention Center on Monday.
Phuc, 24, was convicted with two others in a one-day trial at the Hanoi People’s Court in late January 2018 under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code for producing and distributing videos criticizing the country’s ruling Communist Party and its leaders. He was sentenced to six years in prison and four years of probation.
“During the recent visit, he told me that he has not eaten any soup provided by the prison for a month because he suspects that it may have been poisoned,” she said.
“He said liquid is the easiest way to poison the soup, so he won’t eat it,” she added. “He only eats food sent by the family.”
Phuc’s family also provided him with medication on Jan. 5 to treat his hepatitis C, she said.
Following that visit, Phuc’s family reported that he was in good health and spirits, though he informed his mother that he had been harassed by other prisoners since his first instance court hearing in late January, according to an update on the Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database.
After Phuc had been charged, authorities transferred him to a cell with 14 criminal prisoners and drug addicts, the brief said.
Forced to incriminate friends
Meanwhile, a family member of jailed of Vietnamese democracy activist and Facebook blogger Huynh Truong Ca told RFA that Ca informed his relatives during a visit around the end of January that police forced him to say things during the investigation process.
Ca, who is in his late 40s, was tried on defamation charges in southern Vietnam’s Dong Thap Province at the end of 2018, and sentenced to five years and six months in prison for criticizing the country’s communist government in a series of online postings, according to state media and other sources.
“Police from Saigon came to force him say things — told him to say things about his friends in Saigon,” said the family member who requested anonymity out of safety concerns.
“They even threatened him,” the relative said. “But Ca told them that they were not allowed to talk to him that way, and he said he did not say things that they wanted him to say.”
Ca’s family worries that the blogger will not survive in prison because he is suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney stones, the person said.
A member of the Hien Phap Group, a network of activists calling for rights to freedom of speech and assembly guaranteed by Vietnam’s constitution, Ca was arrested in September 2018 after calling on social media for public protests, sources said.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.