Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh, born in 1985, is founding member of the Workers’ Movement in Vietnam. She was arrested in 2010 because of organizing a strike for workers in a shoe factory in Southern Vietnam. She was later sentenced to seven years imprisonment on the charge of “Disrupting security”. She was tortured and beaten severely in prison. In October 2010 she was transferred to Thanh Xuan Prison in Hanoi, approximately 1,700 km away from her hometown.
The Workers’ Movement in Vietnam help the workers defend their basic rights. In January 2010, three members of the movement – Ms. DO Thi Minh Hanh, Mr. NGUYEN Hoang Quoc Hung and Mr. DOAN Huy Chuong were trying to organize workers at the My Phong Leather Shoes Factory with some 11,000 workers in the Tra Vinh province. In January 2010, the workers at the factory became unhappy with low wages. Additionally, Taiwanese managers were insulting female workers and beaten them. On January 28, 2010, workers in the factory went on strike. To prevent the strike from spreading through the factory, the company sealed workers into their sections. After sixteen women fainted from lack of oxygen, the workers broke out to free themselves. During the strike thousands of leaflets were scattered around the factory with a list of workers’ demands. For instance, in addition to requesting an increase in the worker’s basic wage and full bonuses, the leaflet calls on the company to “respect workers’ dignity” and demands accountability for violations of workers’ rights. On February 4, 2010 the strike ended and employees returned to work after the company promised to consider bonus reform and boosted wages.
But after the strike Mr. Doan was arrested on Feb. 11, Ms. Do on Feb. 23 and Mr. Nguyen on Feb. 24, 2010. At the arrest Ms. Do was beaten by the police. She was later put in solitary confinement for eight months before being brought to trial. At the first instance trial by the People’s Court of Tra Vinh Province on October 26, 2010, she was beaten brutally in the court’s yard. On the charge of “disrupting security” according to §89 Vietnamese Criminal Code Mr. Nguyen was sentenced to nine years, Ms. Do and Mr. Doan to seven years imprisonment each.
|No.||Prrison in||Distance (km)||Journey time by car (hours)|
|1||Ho Chi Minh City||243||5|
|2||Tra Vinh Province||435||7|
|3||Long An Province||266||5|
|4||Binh Thuan Province||96||2|
|5||Dong Nai Province||139||3|
Table: Distances and times for visiting Mr. Do Thi Minh Hanh by her family living in Di Linh Town, Lam Dong Province
In March 2011, the Tra Vinh Province police let other inmates beat up Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh badly. In April 2011, while being transferred to another prison in Long An Province, she was handcuffed, her legs shackled, and her mouth gagged. She was beaten during the journey. On May 6, 2011, she was transferred to a prison in Binh Thuan Province and moved through different camps. There she repeatedly opposed forced labor imposed on her. In April 2013, she was transferred to a prison in Dong Nai Province where she was forced to process cashew nuts, and she opposed that as well. When she protested against forced labor and bad prison conditions, the police let a number of criminal inmates physically assault her. Once she was beaten while taking a shower. Due to those beatings, she suffered nervous pain. In addition, her left breast became atrophied and the pain was severe, but the prison administration did not allow her to see specialists for medical treatment.
On October 2, 2013, the government transferred Ms. Do and a religious prisoner from Dong Nai Province to Thanh Xuan Prison in Hanoi. On this long journey of more than 1,700 kilometers, both of them, despite being seriously ill, were handcuffed and shackled. They lost consciousness several times. Since her arrest, the police has pressured her to admit to having committed crimes as condition for leniency, but she has refused.
Ms. Do has poor health. She was beaten several time at her head and suffers headache. Additionally she has pain at one chest but was not adequately treated. Her family believe that she could have chest cancer.
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