Vietnamese Activist Extends Hunger Strike, Citing Unmet Demands

Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is now entering the third week of his strike and is growing weak, his brother says.

Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is shown at his trial in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, Jan. 20, 2010.

Vietnamese democracy advocate Tran Huynh Duy Thuc has extended a hunger strike begun two weeks ago to protest police pressure on him to plead guilty in exchange for amnesty, family members say.

Thuc, 52, has now entered the 15th day of his strike, for which he had first set a deadline of Aug. 23, Thuc’s brother Tran Huynh Duy Tan told RFA’s Vietnamese Service by phone on Aug. 28.

“Thuc called his sister from the prison and spoke for about five minutes,” Tan said. “He told her that he was still on hunger strike, and that was the 14th day.”

“He said the reason he went on hunger strike is to protest [conditions in] the prison, and more specifically the new managers, whose names are Tran Ba Toan, and Tran Duy Phong, who are ill-treating him,” he said.

“He said he will continue his hunger strike until prison authorities address his requirements,” Tan said.

Thuc has not been allowed to write as many letters to his family as he could before the new managers’ arrival, and the number of petitions he may now submit to authorities has also been restricted, Tan told RFA in an earlier report.

He has also been kept in a dark cell, and has been refused books and other reading materials.

Tan said that 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, sounded weak and tired when he spoke on the phone.

Calls seeking comment from Prison No. 6 in Vietnam’s Nghe An province, where Thuc is being held, rang unanswered Tuesday.

Rights group Amnesty International estimates that at least 97 prisoners of conscience are currently held in Vietnam’s prisons, where many are subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.