Vietnam Activist Thuc ‘Tired And Thin’ But Unbowed 17 Days Into Hunger Strike: Family

The democracy advocate is protesting police pressure to plead guilty in exchange for amnesty.

Democracy activist Tran Huynh Duy Thuc stands during his trial at the People’s Courthouse in Ho Chi Minh City, Jan. 20, 2010.

Jailed Vietnamese democracy advocate Tran Huynh Duy Thuc looks “very tired and thin” 17 days into a hunger strike to protest police pressure on him to plead guilty in exchange for amnesty, family members said after visiting him in prison on Friday.

Thuc, 52, was visited in Prison No. 6 in Nghe An province on Friday by four family members, Thuc’s sister Tran Thi Dieu Lien told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

“Thuc is still on hunger strike. He refuses food provided by the prison or sent from the family. He looked very tired and thin,” she told RFA.

“However, he still told us not to worry and that he was still fine,” added Lien.

“We asked him why he continues his hunger strike. He wants them to release him based on the law and justice. He said that amnesty measure is not based on justice,” she said.

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, met with a representative of the procuracy on Aug. 29.

“We talked to them, too, and it turns out that the new manager of the prison had made a decision to limit Thuc’s sending letters to family or petitions to leaders,” said Lien.

“We talked to the prison’s management board about the decision but they did not comment on that and said only the procuracy office has authority to address this issue,” she said.

Meanwhile, police in Binh Thuan province continued to prosecute people detaimed after protests on June 10 and 11, a police newspaper reported.

Authorities prosecuted another 17 people for their alleged involvement in the burning of the province’s people committee office on June 10.

Binh Thuan province’s propaganda committee told the newspaper that most of the protesters were instigated by hostile forces and that most of the protesters who were instigated were addicts or criminals.

According to the newspaper, the 17 join 32 people in Binh Thuan who have been prosecuted for the June 10 protest, one of the largest in recent memory in the communist state.

The Binh Thuan protest—one of several that rocked major cities including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nha Trang—saw demonstrators throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police and set fire to official vehicles and buildings, with scores of protesters detained across the country.

The protests were launched amid fears that the 99-year special economic zone leases Vietnam plans to offer foreign investors will be snapped up by buyers from neighboring China, with which Vietnam has had tense bilateral relations in recent years—in part due to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Paul Eckert.