[CPVW 17/8/2011] On 4th August in Saigon, Mr. Shinya Iwai, International Affairs Bureau Chief Assistant Director from IMF-JC, Japan’s Council of Metalworkers Unions, met the families of Chuong-Hung-Hanh, sentenced last year to up to 9 years imprisonment for leading a strike by 10 thousand workers at a shoe factory in Vietnam.
Mr. Iwai asked the families about their loved ones’ health and wellbeing. The families said that Hanh, a petite girl under 5 feet, is now deaf in one ear and is suffering long bouts of headache because she has been slapped hard on the face many times. At her arrest last February, she bled in the face after being hit by burly police. Hanh is also suffeing from low blood pressure. Hung and Chuong both have often been beaten by guards or thugs encouraged by guards, they have fainted a few times from such beatings. 3 of Chuong’s fingers, hurt from an old motorbike accident, have worsened after being beaten and are now unusable. Despite ill health, all must work 8 hours, sometimes 11 hours a day in prison. They have so far been moved to 4 jails, beatings greeted them at each arrival.
Previously, the families told us (CPVW) that Hung, formerly tall and strong but now thin and frail, had calmly assessed that given his deteriorating health and the continued beating, he expected not to outlive his 9-year sentence.
“WE DID WHAT VGCL AVOIDED DOING”
Asked whether they saw any hope for an early release , the families said that they saw no hope, as Chuong-Hung-Hanh (PHOTO) have courageously continued to insist that what they did was right and was what the state-run union VGCL avoided doing, namely helping workers to improve their meagre wages. The authorities have always treated them viciously, starting with beatings when arresting them in February 2010, 8 months of solitary and almost incommunicado detention until their sentencing in October 2010, denying them the right to lawyers in the trial, and not allowing their families to attend court hearings.
Mr. Iwai told them that IMF-JC has reported about Chuong-Hung-Hanh in its publications. Also, the 2011 report on its Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights by ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) also mentioned their cases.
IMF-JC was formed in May 1964 with 470,000 members. It now has 2.06 million members from 5 affiliated unions. The International Affairs Bureau is under IMF-JC’s Secretariat. Its role includes international solidarity and working conditions at Japan’s overseas metal factories.
ISSUE RAISED AT IMF BY AWU (AUSTRALIAN WORKERS UNION)
We understand that the IMF’s General Secretary, Jyrki Raina, also asked his Malaysia-based representative to raise concerns about jailing of unionists, during the latter’s visit to Vietnam in July 2011.
We also understand that in May 2011, the issue of Vietnam’s oppression of the indepedent union movement and jailing of unionists was raised at the IMF (International Metalworkers Federation) by Paul Howes, National Secretary of AWU (Australian Workers Union). In December 2010, AWU and TWU (Transport Workers Union) led a Resolution by Australia’s peak union council, ACTU, condemning the oppression of indepedent unions, and calling for solidarity and fact-finding visits to families of jailed unionists.
(This and other CPVW documents are accessible on protectVietworkers.com)