As an independent blogger, Ta Phong Tanoften highlighted abuses in Vietnam's justice system. Now as a prisoner of conscience serving a 10-year sentence for "propagandizing against the state," an anti-state offense under Article 88 of Vietnam's criminal code, she is suffering under the same abusive system she once critiqued and exposed.
Earlier this year Tan staged a hunger strikefor about three weeks to protest poor prison conditions. It was believed to be the third time she has fasted in protest since first being detained in September 2011. Tan is being held in solitary confinement in a stifling, windowless cell, according to her sister, Ta Minh Tu.
In email correspondence with CPJ, Tu spoke about her sister's dire situation and renewed her family's call for Tan's immediate and unconditional release. Her responses have been translated from Vietnamese.
CPJ:Some families of prisoners in Vietnam tell us they seldom get to see their loved ones who are behind bars. When was the last time you were able to see your sister?
Ta Minh Tu:Since my sister Tan was imprisoned, prison officers have regularly caused difficulties each time we try to visit her. Each visit, we have to wait from 90 minutes up to two hours before seeing Tan. The last visit I made was on June 14, 2015 to persuade her to stop her hunger strike. When I met Tan, she said she stopped her hunger strike on June 3, 2015.