A Vietnamese activist and RFA blogger serving a seven-year prison term for his role in protesting a chemical waste spill on Vietnam’s coast three years ago is no longer in solitary confinement, according to a fellow prisoner.
RFA reported in May that Nguyen Van Hoa, now held at An Diem Prison in south-central Vietnam’s Quang Nam province, had been placed in solitary after suffering abuse at the hands of a prison guard.
The news of Nguyen’s release from solitary after four months came from Hoang Duc Nguyen, who had Saturday visited his brother, Hoang Duc Binh, a fellow political prisoner serving a 14-year-sentence in the same facility.
“Today, Nguyen Van Hoa returned to the camp after more than four months of being disciplined and placed in solitary confinement,” Hoang Duc Nguyen told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“The day I visited my brother, he said Nguyen had just come back [from confinement]. Although my brother did not have time to talk to him, he looked over and saw that Nguyen is very weak,” said Hoang.
Nguyen Van Hoa, 24, was jailed by the People’s Court of Ha Tinh in Nghe An province on Nov. 27, 2017 after filming protests outside the Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group steel plant, whose spill in 2016 killed an estimated 115 tons of fish and left fishermen and tourism industry workers jobless in four central provinces.
Nguyen, who had blogged and produced videos for RFA, was arrested on Jan. 11, 2017 for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state” under Article 258 of the Penal Code, but the charges against him were later upgraded to the more severe “conducting propaganda against the state” under Article 88.
He was last seen by a member of his family on May 28, when his sister, Nguyen Thi Hue, visited him shortly after he had been assaulted and confined.
She told RFA that prisoner authorities said that in upcoming visits she would be limited, and that the separation order was valid for six months.
A number of high-profile political prisoners, including Hoang and Nguyen Bac Truyen, recently staged a hunger strike when they learned that prison authorities assaulted Nguyen Van Hoa and threw him in solitary without informing the other prisoners in camp.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Channhu Hoang. Written in English by Eugene Whong.