Vietnam: Journalist assaulted by prison guards

Independent blogger and human rights advocate Huynh Thuc Vy was beaten and choked by prison guards at Gia Trung Prison where she is currently serving a 33-month sentence for ‘disrespecting the national flag’. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the assault and urges the Vietnamese authorities to immediately investigate the incident and hold the perpetrators to account.

Independent blogger and human rights advocate Huynh Thuc Vy was beaten and choked by prison guards at Gia Trung Prison. Credit: Twitter

Vy’s family learned of the assault after the journalist whispered to her 6-year-old daughter during a prison visit that she had been beaten and strangled by prison guards. On October 9, her family expressed deep concern for the journalist’s safety.

While the motive behind the assault is unknown, Vy’s younger brother Huynh Trong Hieu said the blogger may have been beaten for assistance she provided to other prisoners. Vy reportedly supplied the contact numbers of fellow inmates to her family, who then contacted the prisoners directly to share updates on their living conditions with their relatives.

Vy had previously told family members that the Gia Trung prison warden did not approve of her performing this role.

The journalist has been publishing articles online since 2008, covering social, political and environmental topics through her writing and activism. In 2018, Vy was sentenced to 2 years and 9 months in prison for spray painting Vietnam’s national flag, a violation of Article 276 of the nation’s penal code. Her sentence was postponed for three years due to the age of her children, however, she was forced to carry out the sentence in November 2021.

Vy has been associated with the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, a non-profit and independent organisation supporting the families of activists and prisoners of conscience.

Jailed journalists and activists are frequently subject to cruel treatment and poor conditions in Vietnamese prisons. In August, independent citizen journalist, Do Cong Duong, died in detention after he was repeatedly refused medical assistance for illnesses he developed during the course of his imprisonment.

The IFJ said: “The continued mistreatment and physical abuse of detained journalists and media workers in Vietnam constitutes a serious violation of human rights. The IFJ condemns the assault of Huynh Thuc Vy and urges the local authorities to immediately investigate and hold the prison guards responsible to account.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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