Prison Camp Z30A – Xuan Loc, April 30, 2009.
The Freedom and Democracy-Loving Vietnamese People.
Leaders of Religious Sects in Vietnam.
Organizations and Parties struggling for Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee.
International Governments and Congresses of Democratic Nations.
Vietnamese and International Media and Press Agencies.
We, the political and religious prisoners (hereinafter referred to as political prisoners) incarcerated at Xuan Loc - Dong Nai prison camp in Vietnam, collectively draft this open document to denounce the crimes that the Vietnamese Communist party committed through their prison system, where they systematically persecute and mistreat political and common prisoners alike.
A. Treatment of political prisoners:
1. The VCP applies various solitary confinement techniques, restricting movements and contacts with other prisoners to the maximum. Forbid direct purchases at the prison canteens.
2. Cooking is totally restricted, prisoners are not given cooking fuels, causing them undue hardships, particularly those whose family have little or no support and are unable to make frequent visits, leading to the deterioration of inmates’ health, and due to their long sentences many deaths happened in the prison camp.
3. Health care access for prisoners is further made more difficult by complicated procedures, a deliberate move to create delays. The prison management also requires that applications for treatment be submitted before prisoners can get treatment. From 2001 to 2004, the attempt to limit the spread of HIV infections is laughable counter-productive. In the K3 ward where political prisoners are held, more than 60 prisoners have been given one single razor blade for shaving, which in turn has caused the spread of HIV virus, responsible the deaths of Phan Anh Tuan, Nguyen van Binh, Son Tam, Nguyen Quoc Dung, Nguyen van Chiem and Nguyen Si Bang. While emergency treatments of prisoners during the nighttime for diseases such as high blood pressure, seizures, etc…have also led to the deaths of: Pham van Truoc, Hoa Van Xuan due to the irresponsible and lackadaisical attitude of the prison staff.
4. Lip services have been given to the study and practice of morals fortitude, propagating relentlessly in the prison, but for political prisoners, news black out are commonly carried out, preventing the gathering of information and attempt at self-education. Newspapers, even those printed and published in the country, are not given to these prisoners to read. Any foreign language book is forbidden. The only standard fare allowed is The People Newspaper. Nevertheless, if this paper happens to print any sensitive news deemed unbeneficial to the regime then the paper is being suppressed for the day, not reaching the hand of the prisoners unless they have to fight tooth and nail asking for it.
5. Prohibit prisoners from participating in any outdoor musical entertainment or physical activities so as to avoid the discovery of the of the prison’s shortcomings.
6. The prison organizes frequent call home for regular prisoners (with fees) but when it comes to political prisoners there are no such services, reason given is that they may violate national security. When the prisoners asked for the documents showing them the required regulations, the prison would present the decision of department V26, which is an addendum, written after the fact. Letters homes are being frequently censored, which is a fact of life, yet the prison camp would only mail them according to their whims and fancy, arbitrarily withhold letters and more often than not choose to not to mail them.
7. The prison staff handpicked a selected few regular prisoners (normally those who can afford some bribery) to help them carry out their biddings in abusing the political prisoners. The practice of using these hired hands for physical abuses has happened in the beating of Tran Quoc Hien in ward K1 on March 6, 2008. Mr. Hien has gone on 5 days of hunger strike to protest this mistreatment. The second incident happened in ward K2 on February 17, 2009 against Son Nguyen Thanh Dien. After the beating, Mr. Dien was being shackled at the ankles for 5 days. To counter this harsh treatment, the political prisoners have directly protested against the prison, and at the same time submitted petitions, requesting the prison to carry out human rights practices, respecting the prisoners’ dignity and improve the conditions of their prison life. The prison promised to submit their request to the higher up, but afterwards the request was never carried out as if nothing has happened. This is such a life under Vietnamese communism.
8. Whenever the political prisoners request to meet with responsible officials to present their petitions or ideas to improve their lots, the warden usually try to ignore or avoid them or resort to buying time which cause the level of dissatisfaction to rise day after day. A case in point, in ward K2 on March 27, 2009, Mr. Truong Quoc Huy has filed a request to meet with the head of prison warden to satisfy a number of his fellow prisoners’ requests but he only met with silence. On April 13, 2009, Mr. Pham Ba Hai wanted to meet with the head supervisor of the prison to ask for improvement in sanitation, and for a TV for all the fellow inmates, but the supervisor has deliberately avoided him. On April 14 and 15, 2009, the prison penalized Mr. Pham Ba Hai, not allowing him to meet with his family for a whole month because he did not listen to the warden and stay in his stinking cell. On April 15, 2009, Mr. Hai has begun to go on hunger strike to protest the prison decision. When this open letter is being drafted Mr. Hai has been fasting for 15 days.
B. Treatment of regular prisoners:
1. The Communist prison applies a systematic forced labor practice pursuant to the legal document issued by the Office of Security Police, forced labor in exchange for a reduced sentence with promise of early release. This is basis for the prison warden to profit by exploiting the free labor extracted from the prisoners. In fact, Nguyen Trung Binh, the supervisor of Xuan Loc prison, has previously employed prisoners to peel cashew nuts at ward 1 to make handsome profit at an inhumane price.
2. Health care for regular prisoners: the prison only supplies prisoners with regular medicine, but at a very reduced dosage. Patients who fell ill and wanted to convalesce have usually been disapproved, but if they bribed him and the prison doctor then for sure their need will be fulfilled right away. There is no dental treatment center, inmates have to revert to using sharp metal objects that they pick up on the ground, such as a rusty nail, used to extract a tooth, which leads to infection or more seriously with HIV. In the penalty cell, the prison employs the V shaped leg shackles which caused the ankles to fester with open and infected sores. The prison does not disinfect these steel shackles so they could pass on the HIV virus to other prisoners.
3. The beatings of prisoners happen daily from such holding camps as PA24, B34 to the median transferring prison of Bo La, Xuan Loc prison camp… The beatings are usually very inhumane. Using night sticks, inmates are handcuffed to the ceiling, electric prods are used. Handcuffed prisoner are made to sit on their haunches then the tormentors would kick them in the chest to make them fall backward.
4. Regular prisoners are forced to toil under harsh conditions, but their meals are only consisted of rice and a few pieces of boiled vegetables. Every month they are given some meager meat or fish according to the prison standard, however because of cuts at different levels of authority, by the time it gets to them there are hardly anything to talk about, and they can’t breathe a word with any one.
5. The cell for each inmate is supposed to be 2 meter 20 centimeters by 2 meter 20 centimeter square, but in reality it is only 1 meter 20 centimeters square per person so it is very difficult to rest or maneuver around after long hours of hard labor.
The above report is but a small fraction of what happens in real life at Xuan Loc prison camp in particular and at other prison system in the whole Communist Vietnam in general. Once again we endeavor to raise consciousness in Vietnam and in world public opinion, indicting the serious systematic human rights violations of Vietnam communist system against political and regular prisoners.
We seriously request the Vietnamese Communist Party:
1. To stop at once their persecutions and abuses of political prisoners, to institute correctly the intents of Vietnam 2007 law and the government issued resolution 113 with regard to the treatment of prisoners in general.
2. We affirm with the communist regime that the people who are struggling for democracy and human rights in Vietnam and who have been jailed in the communist system are indeed political prisoners according to in anyone definition. This is an indisputable fact.
3. We seriously request the Vietnamese communist regime to carry out clear policy with political prisoners according to international norms. They cannot befuddle public opinion between regular criminals and political prisoners.
4. We exhort the international organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other relevant United Nations organizations to pressure the Vietnam communist authority to allow direct access and monitoring of Vietnam prison system.
5. We also would like to send this open document to various international press and media organizations to distribute widely among the court of public opinion in Vietnam and in the world so that people can keep the record of the gross violations of human rights by Communist Vietnam vis-à-vis the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
6. We also call on the governments and Congresses of free and democratic nations the world over, to give us unstinting support. Please give Vietnam democratization efforts a chance to achieve total victory. We wish all of you health, and please accept here our sincere and heartfelt thanks!
Political and religious prisoners of Xuan Loc-Dong Nai Z30A prison camp.