Tension erupts as protest at Vietnam’s drug rehab center enters second day

By Phuoc Tuan   November 7, 2016 | 12:26 am PT
Tension erupts as protest at Vietnam’s drug rehab center enters second day
Inmates protest at a drug rehab center in Dong Nai Province on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan
An official denied claims of poor living conditions at the center.

Protest at a drug rehabilitation center in Dong Nai Province has continued for the second day as many inmates stood on roofs demanding to leave and police had to use tear gas.

Hundreds of inmates at Xuan Phu rehab center in the southern province could be seen screaming and smashing things at around 10 a.m. on Monday. Many threw chairs and buckets at police officers.

“We have houses. Why constraining us here?” one inmate said. “Everyone should come and see how we live here,” another said.

Many of them were injured and some coughed when the police sprayed tear gas in a bid to push them inside at around 11 a.m.

Around 10 people, believed to be leaders of the protest that started on Sunday, were driven away in a police car half an hour later.


Inmates believed to lead the protest at the rehab center are taken away by the police on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan

On Sunday morning, 166 inmates broke out of the center after many began screaming, smashing through walls and breaking down doors. They gathered on the facility’s football pitch before pouring onto National Highway 1A.

So far, 61 of them have been brought back to the center.

The escape on Sunday was the fourth at the rehab center, about 100km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, since its opening in 2009.

The biggest one happened on October 23, when more than 500 inmates broke out of the center. As many as 80 are still at large.

In July 2015, eight guards at the center were sentenced to up to eight years in jail for beating one of the escapees to death after they were captured.

Ho Van Loc, deputy director of Dong Nai’s Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the inmates escaped because they are not familiar with discipline yet.

Loc denied rumors about poor meal and living conditions that triggered the inmates to escape.

Yet in August, he admitted that some officials at the center have reported false expenses and stolen money some inmates’ families sent voluntarily, allegedly pocketing VND100 million ($4,500). The case is still under investigation.

The center of nearly five hectares (12.4 acres), surrounded by paddy fields, has nearly 1,500 inmates.

Related news:

>Over 100 drug addicts escape rehab center in southern Vietnam, again

>Drug addicts stage breakout from rehab center in southern Vietnam

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