A Vietnamese human rights defender, Ho Thi Bich Khuong, currently serving a five-year prison term for “conducting propaganda” against the state, has been beaten by a group of prisoners. She is said to be seriously injured and in urgent need of medical care.
Ho Thi Bich Khuong is imprisoned at K4 prison’s Camp 5, in Viet Nam’s Thanh Hoa province. On 4 November, four prisoners reportedly beat her around her face, stomach and genital area. The incident occurred during the early evening, when the prison guards were not present. Ho Thi Bich Khuong is reportedly badly bruised and has acute stomach pain. She also has a broken arm from an earlier beating, for which she did not receive any treatment. She is currently in a critical condition in the prison clinic. The reason for the assault is not known.
Ho Thi Bich Khuong has been an outspoken and peaceful activist for social justice since the mid-1980’s, when the authorities evicted her and other stall holders from Cho Chua market in Nam Dan district, Nghe An province. She received no compensation, cutting off her only source of income. Despite repeated intimidation and harassment, including arrest and imprisonment, she has submitted countless complaints to the local and national authorities about her and others’ cases. She has written a blog and published accounts of human rights violations against the rural poor, and the harassment of her family and others. She has also taken part in protests about land rights and is a supporter of Bloc 8406, a movement calling for democracy and human rights.
Ho Thi Bich Khuong was arrested in December 2010 for giving interviews critical of the government to foreign media, and distributing “anti-government” documents. On 29 December 2011, Nghe An Provincial People’s Court sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment and three years’ probation on release for “conducting propaganda” against the state under Article 88 of Viet Nam’s Penal Code. Her sentence was upheld at an appeal hearing on 30 May 2012. She is a prisoner of conscience.