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Dang Xuan Dieu, Vietnamese democracy activist, just released after six years in prison
Feb. 21, 2017

On becoming an activist in Vietnam:

  • “I was arrested on July 30, 2011, sentenced to 13 years in prison and exiled from Vietnam on Jan. 12, 2017. . . I was locked up for choosing a path pf peaceful change for my country.”
  • “I started this journey in 2006. I had witnessed injustice every day and felt I had to do something. I looked online for how people were undertaking a nonviolent struggle to overcome dictatorships in other countries. And I thought why not Vietnam.”
  • “Despite having many fears, I began to write blogs, sign petitions and participate in campaigns . . . These were small and simple actions that were met with harsh reprisals by the authorities. Many people who were involved were arrested.”
  • “I believe shaping young people is the most essential when shaping society, so I undertook training overseas on non-violent civic action to improve myself and reform the country. . .”


On Vietnamese justice:

  • “When I returned to Saigon, I was detained at the airport by the police… They threatened me and took all my possessions…”
  • “On Jan. 8, 2013 – [I was sentenced by] the People’s Court… where sentences were already predetermined and lawyers had no regard. I did not accept my charges simply because I did not feel that I was guilty in being involved in peaceful change.”
  • “I journeyed from prison to prison from Northern to Southern Vietnam and back again… dozens of prison cells each with its own harsh conditions.”
  • “I opposed the treatment of inmates and peacefully fought for change and because I wanted to change for the better I was labeled as [dangerous]”


On torture in prison:

  • “After three days in prison, I was housed with a thug who was sentenced for life for murder. This person psychological tortured me and crushed my faith. He treated me like a slave. He threatened to kill me. After three months, I asked to be transferred… But… I had to endure another three months of this psychological torment…”
  • “Solitary confinement was the reprisal for simple acts I had taken…  The guard said I had violated prison rules and shackled me in a reeking cell with no water, unable to wash or brush my teeth… I underwent a hunger strike and the prison guard responded by not giving me water to drink for three days…”
  • “When other prisoners violated the rules… they had their feet bound and were subject to solitary confinement for 3-6 months. Most would potentially suffer paralysis after three months. This was what inmates were most afraid of… I witnessed dozens of prisoners getting beaten after they were bound.”