Đời SốngVietnam

Jailed Vietnamese activist beaten until he ‘coughed blood’

Vietnamese prisoner of conscience Nguyen Nhu Phuong has claimed he was beaten by detention center guards after getting in a row with the warden over a missing gift from his family, his mother told Radio Free Asia this week.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha said the family went to a detention center in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province in November, bringing two shirts for her son. 

Phuong didn’t receive the shirts even though they were listed on his receipt record. When he complained to the warden, Phuong said he was sworn at and beaten by several guards until he coughed blood.


Phuong was convicted of “propaganda against the state” in 2022. He was transferred this month to Xuyen Moc prison to serve out the sentence, along with one for possessing and using drugs.

On Jan. 5, his mother visited her son and heard about the incident with the warden. 

“[A guard] took a mineral water bottle and hit him in the face. Two or three [guards] rushed in, beat him and then locked him in a single room,” she told RFA Vietnamese on Monday.

Phuong was then told to write a report stating that his family did not send him the shirts. When he refused, he told his mother, a group of policemen attacked him.

When Phuong returned to the cell, he was coughing up blood, and told his mother he still has shoulder pains.

The prison also punished Phuong by refusing a family visit last December.

Phuong’s mother called the detention center and spoke to an officer named Nhat. She said Nhat admitted the incident happened, but said it was because Phuong “spoke insolently.” 

On Jan. 8, Ha went to the provincial police detention center where a supervisor named Luan apologized to her family and asked her not to make a big deal of the case.


RFA phoned the officer called Nhat but no one answered. The reporter also sent an email to Ba Ria-Vung Tau provincial police asking for information about the alleged beating but had not received a reply by time of publication.

Phuong, 33, was a member of the No-U Saigon group, a group in Ho Chi Minh City that opposes China’s “nine dash” or “cow tongue” line that demarcates Beijing’s disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea.

While studying in Japan he protested against Vietnamese laws that opponents said favored foreign companies in Special Economic Zones and cracked down on freedom of the internet.

On Aug. 30, 2022, he was arrested and detained for “possession and use of drugs.” He was then investigated on charges of “propaganda against the state” under Article 117 of the Penal Code for posts on Facebook.

On Dec. 26, 2022, Phuong was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of probation.

In March last year, he was sentenced to a further 15 months in prison on drug-related charges that his family said were fabricated. 

Phuong appealed saying he hadn’t signed statements used as evidence against him but the court upheld his sentence.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.


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