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Vietnam : RSF calls for the release of ailing journalist deprived of medical care

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Vietnamese regime to release independent journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan who has been in a critical condition as recently stated by his family member.

On 26 December 2023, during a prison visit, a family member of Vietnamese journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan found his present state concerning, with “only skin on his bones” and “very pale”. The independent journalist who has been detained since 2019, reportedly expressed that he had “had enough” and that he could “not bear it anymore”.

Le Huu Minh Tuan, 34, is currently serving an 11-year sentence in the Xuyen Moc detention centre, in southeast Vietnam, for allegedly disseminating “anti-state propaganda”. He suffers from digestive problems, colitis, and hepatitis, but the prison authorities deny him access to medicines sent by his family which were prescribed by doctors, after a hospital visit in November.

“Le Huu Minh Tuan is an independent journalist who has courageously risked his life to inform the public on democratisation efforts led by Vietnamese civil society, and he should never have been detained, not to mention receive such severe prison term. We call on the international community to step up pressure on Hanoi to grant him medical parole and ensure that he is released before it is too late.

Cédric Alviani – RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director

Le Huu Minh Tuan was an editor of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), an organisation founded in 2014 to offer the Vietnamese public an alternative voice to the regime’s propaganda. The authorities’ crackdown on its leaders has been relentless. In January 2021, Le Huu Minh Tuan appeared in court alongside IJAVN’s president Pham Chi Dung and vice president Nguyen Tuong Thuy, who were respectively sentenced to 15 and 11 years in prison.

In Vietnam, jailed journalists are almost systematically subjected to ill-treatment and denied medical care. In August 2022, Do Cong Duong died in detention, at the age of 58, as a result of mistreatment in detention. More recently, Le Trong Hung lost 11 kg after a month-long hunger strike he started in September 2023 to protest against his conditions of detention.

Vietnam ranks 178th out of 180 countries and territories, at the bottom of the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index, and is among the world’s worst jailers of journalists.

Reporters Sans Frontières – December 29, 2023

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