Jailed Vietnamese Activist Wins Short Stays Outside His Cell Following Hunger
RFA – 07/08/2019
Jailed Vietnamese democracy advocate Tran Huynh Duy Thuc has been freed from
round-the-clock isolation in his prison cell after going on a three-day hunger
strike this month, family members say.
Thuc, who was jailed in 2010 for 16 years under
Article 79 of the country’s penal code for writing online articles criticizing
the Vietnamese government, launched his strike on July 1 after being kept locked
in his cell in sweltering heat, Thuc’s sister told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on
“The temperature in his cell kept getting worse
during the day,” Tran Thi Dieu Lien told RFA following a family visit to Camp 6
of the detention center in Nghe An province two days before.
“And on July 3, the director of the detention
center went down to solve the problem and stop the persecution, saying that Thuc
could leave his cell for seven hours each day on Saturdays and Sundays, and Thuc
ended his hunger strike after that agreement was reached,” she said.
Thuc vowed to go on hunger strike again if he
and other inmates at the prison are not granted the rights allowed to them under
Vietnamese law, Lien said, adding that letters between Thuc and his family have
been blocked since the beginning of the year.
Thuc’s health has been a continuing source of
concern to his family, with an earlier hunger strike in August 2018 leaving him
exhausted and thin after he protested police pressure on him to admit his guilt
to the offenses for which he was jailed, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
In June, at least four other prisoners in Nghe
An’s Camp 6 went on hunger strike over poor conditions in detention, including
the removal of electric fans from cells in the soaring summer heat.
The hunger strikers included jailed Brotherhood
for Democracy member Truong Minh Duc, serving 13 years for subversion; Nguyen
Van Tuc, arrested in Sept. 2017 and later handed a 13-year term for “activities
aimed at overthrowing the state;” and Dao Quang Thuc, convicted on the same
charge in Sept. 2018 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Call for international help
Meanwhile, in an open letter signed by
representatives of Vietnamese civil society organizations and published on June
28, the rights group Defend the Defenders called for an end to the “torture and
maltreatment of prisoners in every prison across Vietnam,” pointing especially
to conditions in Camp 6, where it said indoor temperatures had soared to more
than 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Also, we urge international human rights
organizations and democratic governments to raise [their] voices and take
relevant actions to pressure the government of Vietnam to fulfill its human
rights obligations,” the rights group, which is based outside Vietnam, said.
Vietnam now holds an estimated 128 prisoners of
conscience, according to a May 13, 2019 report by rights group Amnesty
“The Vietnamese authorities portray individuals
who are peacefully exercising their human rights as criminals,” Amnesty
International (AI) said in its report, Prisoners of Conscience in Vietnam.
“However, it is the government that flagrantly
contravenes international human rights law and its own constitution,” AI said.
Nguyen Kim Binh of Vietnam Human Rights Network
said in December that the one-party communist state is currently detaining more
than 200 political prisoners.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
Translated by Channhu Hoang. Written in English by Richard Finney.