Vietnam: human rights watchdog urges release of prisoners of conscience amid pandemic
A Vietnamese human rights group issued a statement calling on Vietnam’s government to free all prisoners of conscience to protect them from being infected with deadly COVID-19 as the disease increasingly spreads around the country, International Christian Concern reported.
On April 4, Defend the Defenders (DTD) issued a press release calling on Vietnam’s communist regime to free all prisoners of conscience to protect them amid COVID-19, which affects the whole country.
According to the Vietnamese human rights group, prisoners of conscience are one of the most vulnerable groups to Coronavirus infection as the severe prison conditions have weakened their immune system.
According to DTD’s latest statistics, Vietnam’s communist regime is holding at least 240 prisoners of conscience in severe conditions: being held in large numbers in small unhygienic cells without sunlight and windows, low-quality food, lack of proper medical services, many of them have been placed in solitary cells or beaten by prison guards or inmates for protesting inhumane treatment.
“Prisoners of conscience are imprisoned because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, or political views, and those who have been imprisoned and/or persecuted for the non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs. They are not dangerous to Vietnam’s society in all circumstances and times”, the statement says.
As International Christian Concern noted, among the 240 prisoners of conscience, there are at least dozens of pastors, Hmong and, Montagnard Christians. Their sentences range from a few years to more than 10 years, while some have unknown charges.
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