Rights campaigner released after three years detention

Bui Thi Minh Hang battled the authorities during her three years in prison

The prominent activist, Bui Thi Minh Hang, has been released from prison after serving a three year sentence on public order charges.

She was greeted by supporters as she emerged from the Gia Trung prison camp in the Central Highlands. They accompanied her on her return to Ho Chi Minh City.

The human rights campaigner doggedly battled the prison authorities during her years in detention, going on hunger strike for a time and refusing to wear prison uniform.

Despite fears about her health, she appeared elated and energetic on her release. She sarcastically thanked the authorities for helping to turn her into a true campaigner during her time in jail.

Local and international rights groups had protested loudly against the arrest and conviction of Hang and two others in 2014.

The activists were accused of “causing public disorder” and obstructing traffic under article 245 of the penal code.

They were arrested after being assaulted by plainclothes police auxiliaries as they attempted to show support for a dissident Hoa Hao Buddhist activist who was being harassed by the authorities.

Arbitrary detention

Human Rights Watch noted at the time that the Vietnamese government was resorting to bogus traffic offences to prosecute activists.

Bui Thi Minh Hang was well known as a blogger who campaigner for basic rights and freedoms in Vietnam.

She had previously been subjected to six months “administrative detention” after taking part in protests against China’s assertion of its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The initial sentence of 24 months had been cut short after protests at home and abroad against the injustice of arbitrary detention.

She was well known in her home town of Vung Tau for her campaigns against police abuses, and for supporting the claims of farmers who lost their land in development disputes with local authorities.

Like many activists, she was subjected to a long campaign of intimidation, harassment and physical assaults by the police and their proxies.

She said that during her time in prison, the authorities had attempted to incite fellow prisoners against her because of her political activities.