Former prisoner of conscience Le Quy Loc, who completed his five-year prison term earlier this month, told Radio Free Asia he was seriously beaten twice by prison guards because he fought for prisoners’ rights.
Loc, 47, was arrested by the Ho Chi Minh City police on Sept. 3, 2018 after participating in protests against the controversial bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.
Demonstrators claimed the first bill favored foreign companies and the second would curtail people’s freedom of expression online.
In 2020, he was sentenced to five years in prison and two years of probation along with seven members of the Constitution Group on charges of “disturbing security.”
Speaking to RFA Vietnamese on Sept. 18, Loc said the beatings happened in a detention center managed by the Ho Chi Minh City Police Department and An Phuoc Prison in Binh Duong province.
Loc went on hunger strike after prisoners’ food rations were reduced and they were denied access to news reports.
On April 12, 2020, Loc was summoned for questioning by a prison officer called Le Ngoc Hieu.
“In interrogation room No. 2 of the facility, I was questioned by Lieutenant Colonel Le Van Nguon, where he beat me and cursed me,” he said.
“He swore and said ‘you guys are a bunch of reactionaries, I’ll beat you to death and then just give your family an A4 piece of paper and that’s it’.”
Loc said police beat his back with a hammer, causing him to vomit blood, and hit him on the head with a flashlight.
“At this point, I shouted ‘the police beat me’ and all the prisoners in other cells in the political area heard it,” he said.
“I was dragged back to the interrogation room by Mr. Le Van Nguon and Nguyen Van Son and more than six other armed officers. As I walked, Mr. Son kicked me.”
“When I woke up, I found myself lying in the Chi Hoa Detention Center clinic. And then Mr. Nguyen kicked me a few more times in my chest, then took me back to room no. 5 in Chi Hoa.”
RFA called the Ho Chi Minh City police to verify the information Loc provided, but no one picked up the phone.
After being sentenced, Loc was sent to An Phuoc Prison until his sentence was completed.
When he arrived at the prison, he fought for the right to play sports, which is guaranteed by the law.
After the request, he said he was taken to the criminal detention area and beaten by a group of prison guards and criminal prisoners, some using batons.
Loc filed a complaint with the prison supervisor, but was accused of lying. He then demanded to see camera footage from the hall and camp gate but the prison claimed the cameras were damaged and couldn’t record. He then sent a complaint to the Procuracy but didn’t receive a response.
The reporter called An Phuoc prison to verify the information, but no one answered the phone.
During his time in prison in Binh Duong province, Loc went on hunger strike many times to demand prisoners’ rights, causing his health to suffer.
He remains under house arrest for two years in Quang Ngai province and said he doesn’t know what to do for a living.
Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.