Over fifty political prisoners seized control of a Vietnamese prison for several hours, demanding a more humane regime, improved conditions and food.
The prisoners gained control of the facility following violent clashes with prison staff and local police. The prison governor was held hostage throughout the duration of the prisoner’s control.
The Xuan Loc prison, close to Ho Chi Minh City, houses many of Vietnam’s political dissidents, including several high profile bloggers, including, Tran Hunh Duy Thuc, currently serving a 16 year sentence for attempted subversion, and members of the ‘People’s Democratic Party of Vietnam’ – banned by the government.
A police spokesperson said that:
“The disturbance was ignited by some leading prisoners. We identified 40 prisoners who organised the riot and hostage taking, and they will be punished in accordance with the law”.
The disturbance comes days after the high profile revolutionary poet, Cu Huy Ha Vu, ended a three week hunger strike, demanding better treatment from prison staff.
Prison staff and riot police mounted several attempts to regain control of the prison, but were repelled by a bombardment of rocks and human excrement. Several police officers reported minor injuries. Control of the prison was returned to staff following negotiation with the Ministry of Public Security, who promised to look at the regime.
Prison uprisings have been a rare occurrence in Vietnam, as the government cracks down on any person or groups that attempts to challenge its authority.