Huynh Anh Tri, a former Vietnamese political prisoner, who was infested with HIV virus during his 14-year imprisonment, passed away from AIDS after over half of year after being released.
Several months after being freed from the cell when his sentence ended in late 2013, Mr. Tri was detected to have been infested with the deathly virus. His health deteriorated fast as the infection turned into AIDS in recent months and he stopped breathing on July 5 in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest economic hub in the communist nation.
Mr. Tri, born in 1971, and his older brother Huynh Anh Tu were arrested in 1999 with accusation of “conducting terrorist activities against the state” under Article 84 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code. Both of them were sentenced to 14 years in jail in the same year.
Tri said during his time in Z30A prison in Xuan Loc district in the southern province of Dong Nai, he was forced to share the same room with criminal prisoners, and many of them were infested with HIV. Prisoners are not allowed to keep personnel items, including shaving razor blades, he said.
He added that prison staff periodically gave shaving razor blades to prisoners. After shaving, the staff took the blade and many prisoners could use the same one. He suspected that his HIV infection was a result of sharing the blade with criminal HIV-infected prisoners.
After his sentence ended, Tri and Tu have no place to live as police in HCM City refused to issue basic documents for them, including identification cards. Without proper documents, they could not find job. They also found it difficult to rent home as local police asked any landlord not to give them a shelter.
In the communist nation, prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience, are treated badly by prison staff, who have harassed or ordered criminal prisoners to suppress other prisoners.
In May-June of 2013, prominent political prisoner Cu Huy Ha Vu fasted 25 days to protest inhumane treatment in prison. In August in the same year, political prisoner Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) also conducted a 33-day hunger strike to condemn prison staff’s harassment against prisoners, and demand better conditions in jail.
Earlier on April 3 this year, former political prisoner Dinh Dang Dinh passed away several months after being freed. The former chemical teacher died of stomach cancer, which he blamed for obtaining toxic substance via food supplied by the prison.
Other former political prisoners, including Pham Thanh Nghien and Le Thi Cong Nhan reported that their health has seriously worsened due to bad living conditions in prison as well as lack of proper medical services.
Vietnam always denies holding any political prisoners while international human rights said there are over 200 prisoners of conscience held in severe conditions in the communist nation.