VRNs (04/04/2014) – Thanh Hoa, Vietnam

Respectfully presented to all individuals and organizations inside of Vietnam and abroad.

Recently there have been many efforts concerning about and campaigning for my younger sister, prisoner of conscience Ho Thi Bich Khuong, who is being incarcerated in K4 section of Camp Number 5 in Thanh Hoa province.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the third time my sister has to endure a prison term just because of her efforts in fighting for human rights in Vietnam. She was convicted by the government of Republic Socialist of Vietnam and sentenced to 5 years in prison and 3 years of probation. During her detention for investigation before being trialed, she was beaten and disciplined many times in the forms of solitary confinement and banning from monthly visitations. While she was detained by Nghe An province’s police, my sister refused to provide fingerprints and signed the investigation reports. Because of this refusal, officer Thai Hoang from Nghe An’s police department twisted her arms and forcefully got her fingerprints on these documents. His use of force re- broke her left collar bone, which was still pinned as the results of from being broken previously.

After my sister was convicted at by the preliminary lower court, she was transferred to section B4b of this camp waiting to carry out the sentence. The supervisor of this section was a female officer named Huong. Officer Huong unlocked my sister’s cell many times to so other prisoners could come in to beat her. In her appeal trial, my sister complained to the court about these violent assaults, but the court only ignored these complaints.

Nearly two months after her appeal trial, my sister was transferred to Section K4 of Camp Number 5 in Yen Dinh, Thanh Hoa province on July 26th, 2012 to serve out her sentence. In this camp, my sister was again beaten numerous times by other prisoners right in front of the prison guards. Because my sister refused to admit “guilty” to her charges, she was immensely discriminated by the prison officers.

One time my sister informed me that the prison officers forced her to take some unknown medications, and her health has been deteriorating ever since. The last time I visited her was on March 2nd, 2014. My sister told me they put her in solitary confinement. The reason for this round of discipline was because my sister was entrapped by a female officer name Tuyet. My sister wrote to our family a letter. She was not pleased with this letter; so she threw it in the trash. My sister’s cellmate picked up this letter and turned it to officer Tuyet. This officer used this letter as “evidence” that my sister tried to smuggled unauthorized written correspondence to the outside. The prison’s board of officers decided to punish my sister with solitary confinement. She wrote a letter to explain to the board of officers, but they chose to ignore her explanation.

In the month of February, 2014, the weather in Thanh Hoa province was frigid, but the prison guards did not allow my sister to bring her jacket into the confinement cell. The thin prison uniform could not protect my sister from the bone-chilling cold, so she used the mosquito net to keep herself warm. One morning, the guard on duty opened the door to her cell. Seeing that my sister wrapped herself in the mosquito net, this guard pulled the mosquito net from her body tearing the net. Because of the holes in the net as a result of being pulled by the guard, they wrote a new disciplinary report accusing my sister of “destroying the prison’s property.” I did not know for sure how long this punishment would last because of the limited time for the visitation. Our conversation was closely watched by prison officers so my sister could not tell me all of the details. Through her eyes and her voice, I could tell that she had to endure a lot of unfair treatments, and that her mental and physical health are seriously in decline.

Recently through the family of prisoner of conscience Ta Phong Tan, who just made a visit to Ms. Tan at the same prison, I learned that my sister still had to stay in solitary confinement. Because of my illness, I have not been able to visit my sister. However, this latest information really had me worried about my sister’s health and life.

I am not capable of using a computer, so this letter was written by a friend of my sister with my words. I hope that each individual and organization fighting tirelessly for human rights in Vietnam would raise concerns on behalf of my sister.

Through my sister’s friends, I also learned that FIDH launched a campaign with the Vietnamese government to free some prisoners of conscience including my sister. I am truly gratified and thankful for these efforts. I hope that the government of Vietnam will soon free my little sister.

Respectfully yours,

Ho Thi Lan

Phone number: 0974915195

Written accordingly to words from Mrs. Ho Thi Lan, the older sister of prisoner of conscience Ho Thi Bich Khuong.