Nguyễn Đạng Minh Mẫn, 30, is beautician, photojournalist, and activist. From 2006 to 2007, she trained as a beautician, but it was in 2008 that she officially participated in activism due to the large waves of government oppression, police abuse, and land confiscation against the Vietnamese people.
In 2010, China’s territorial aggression motivated Mẫn to join a campaign to assert Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. She took photographs of the slogan “HS-TS-VN” that were painted across the wall of an old school in Vung Liem district, Vinh Long province. The painted letters stand for “Hoàng Sa, Trường Sa, Vietnam” and was used by Vietnamese citizens to show their patriotism. One of Mẫn’s last community activities before being arbitrarily detained was joining the anti-China protest in Saigon on June 5, 2011.
Treatment in Prison
Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn received the second longest sentence out of the 14 youth activists. She is sentenced to 8 years imprisonment and 5 years house arrest. She plead not guilty to all charges against her.
While in prison Mẫn has experienced verbal abuse and coercion by the prison guards, and has been put in solitary confinement for lengthy periods of time. She has launched two hunger strikes to protest the Vietnamese security force’s arbitrary action of putting political prisoners in solitary confinement. Mẫn’s first hunger strike began on November 28, 2014 and lasted 10 days. The second hunger strike occurred on March 16, 2015 and lasted 12 days. During these hunger strikes Mẫn became very weak and had gone down to 35 kg, or about 77 pounds.
Mẫn has been put in solitary confinement twice. The first time was in 2011, when she had not yet been sentenced. She was detained at the same time as her mother and brother, in different cells. During this time, Mẫn would etch out messages on the prison lunch boxes, hoping that her mother and brother would eventually see them. The messages were of encouragement such as “QT-711 keep trying” and “I miss mom, dad, and brother very much.” For this action, she was put in solitary confinement for 40 days.
The second time she was put in solitary confinement was on April 12, 2015. During these 10 days she was given only rice with salt to eat, and provided with as much as 600 ml or 2.5 cups of water a day for both drinking and sanitary needs. Conditions in solitary confinement are particularly inhumane during menstrual cycles, as prisoners are not allowed hygienic needs or a change of clothing.
Although family members express that her spirit is strong and steadfast, Mẫn’s conditions are dire.