As of the last day of 2020, political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc may have held a hunger strike on the 38th day according to family information in November.
Ms. Tran Thi Dieu Lien, an older sister of political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, when talking to RFA on December 31, 2020, from Saigon, said the latest information about her brother:
“If counting from November 24 to December 31, Thuc has been on a hunger strike for 38 days. But the family still has not received information from Thuc from the day he called on December 2, although the family kept calling the Prison camp in Thanh Chuong, Nghe An province. We have made numerous calls but they did not answer.”
Ms. Lien said, currently the authorities of Prison camp No. 6 have not yet permitted family visits for the prisoners due to the COVID-19 epidemic. However, she said that the family will still visit Mr. Thuc in the near future, to ask them to inform him how his health is going and if he has stopped his hunger strike. She further explained:
“Because I really don’t have information about his hunger strike, my family has to visit soon. His last visit was on November 30, 2020, when Thuc’s health was very weak because of the cold weather at that time. At that time he thought he could not pass the first 5 or 6 days due to very weak health. But when he called us in December, he said that he had passed and had a new equilibrium. He said he could go on a hunger strike longer than the previous 33-day fasting, he said he no longer sees any risk.”
If the 38-day hunger strike has not stopped, relatives and those interested will continue to worry about Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc’s health.
Mrs. Le Dinh Kim Thoa, wife of Mr. Thuc on December 23, when responding to RFA, said that the family wants agencies to respond urgently to the application to save Mr. Thuc’s life:
“I also just hope that the Vietnamese government will respond urgently to save him, now he has decided so. Because he is also not guilty, but if he is guilty, he has served long enough. We request the state authorities to reply soon and also hope everyone to support … On social networks, there are applications available and hope everyone to write the appeals to send to state agencies and post on Facebook to support him.”
Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is a dissident figure, an intellectual who is considered to be a great deal, wholeheartedly – contributing to a developing country in Vietnam. He was born on November 29, 1966, in Saigon. He is the former general manager of OCI Internet Telephone Service Company. He was arrested by the Vietnamese security agency and the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges alleged “activities aimed at overthrowing people’s rights” in the trial on January 20, 2010.
Ms. Tran Thi Dieu Lien said more information received from Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc:
“Thuc said he would stop his ongoing hunger strike if the Supreme Court respects the law and settle his petition by law, and releases him. In addition, if he feels uncertain about his life, he will stop fasting. He is very assertive that the worst possibility is unlikely and asks everyone to file as many complaints in court, as much as possible. This is a form of pressure in the country, he said he also needs support from the international community, but the domestic support is more important. According to him, it is the exploration, the changing foundation for Vietnam in the future, to have true freedom and democracy.”
In 2015, Vietnam amended Article 79 to 109 in the 2015 Criminal Code, with adding Clause 3 for individuals preparing to commit crimes, the sentence ranges from 3 to 5 years in prison. According to the analysis of the lawyers, political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was in this case. Mr. Thuc and his family in 2018, filed an application to the Supreme People’s Court to propose a waiver of the remaining penalty for him. But so far it is clear that the government has imprisoned him for five years beyond the term, and he still has not received a reply from the Supreme People’s Court.
Currently, many individuals, organizations, and associations in the country have mobilized to accompany political prisoners Tran Huynh Duy Thuc with many different forms, including the Le Hieu Dang Club. Responding to RFA on December 31st from Saigon, Mr. Le Than, chairman of Le Hieu Dang Club, said about this campaign:
“Usually, they rarely answer for this one, although they may reply in other cases. The copy we send, we are based on the 2015 Criminal Code, which is about ‘the preparation of crime’ would be punished for only 5 years in prison. Considering the case of Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, if based on the judgment of the court, then Mr. Thuc is only at the level of preparation, so only 5 years in prison maximum, but he has been in prison for over 10 years. Of course, he must be released without being coerced.”
However, Mr. Than expressed concern about the method of a hunger strike that Mr. Thuc chose:
“I find it difficult to succeed in this form. Of course, when someone goes on a hunger strike, it was the last measure for fighting. There was no other way to go on a hunger strike, but if there was another way, it shouldn’t be. Because Thuc’s mission is not in the prison, but his mission is to stay in a society, he also has a mission to contribute to the construction of this country and change this country. That was his mission, but now he turns to him on a hunger strike, but by doing so, his health will deteriorate. Also, a decline in health problems can easily lead to mental breakdowns. We have had a lot of experience with this, so we have advised him to stop several times.”
Ms. Lien said, along with Le Hieu Dang Club, there are many online individuals supporting Mr. Thuc’s advocacy, they also petitioned the court to respond to the petition and uphold the law, love pray for the release of Thuc. She said that at first there was little disagreement about Mr. Thuc’s hunger strike, but recently people asked Thuc to stop a hunger strike to preserve his life to take care of Vietnam later. But her family and Mr. Thuc still hold their point of view, urging everyone not to worry, to support Mr. Thuc’s legal war, and importantly towards enlightenment for the people.
Mr. Ngo Hoang Phong, an activist in Germany, represents the Hoang Sa, Truong Sa Protection Organization in Europe and also lobbied for the German government’s representative to visit Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc in prison in 2018. He also recently wrote to the European Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating the case of Mr. Thuc. On December 30, Phong also spoke to the German Foreign Ministry about Thuc’s situation. When responding to RFA on December 31, Phong said the hunger strike was the only method for prisoners to protest, even though they had to bet their health and life:
“In my opinion, the issue of hunger strike has been a tradition for a thousand years. In my opinion that is the only method for them to resist, to be able to resist. They have sacrificed their health as well as their lives, but in my opinion that is the only means, the only means for people to speak out against the injustices and irrationalities of the Vietnamese government. I see it as a legitimate job, through which the world will pay attention, so I think for the Vietnamese government this is also a very difficult game.”
Activist Ngo Hoang Phong added about the campaign from outside, demanding the release of political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc:
“As we have announced, the advocacy for Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is currently very strong, the European Parliament, as well as the German Parliament, the office of Prime Minister Merkel, the Ministry of Justice as well as the politicians in Germany … associations, Justice and Peace Committees, Churches, NGOs In Germany, they also intervened to intervene to release Thuc. The German government also had this talk with the Vietnamese side at the highest level and they continued. Yesterday, I had a talk with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Embassy in Vietnam continued to talk but had not yet achieved the result of wanting to release Thuc immediately. They hope the Vietnamese side will settle it in a short time.”
In 2018, Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc also went on a hunger strike for up to 34 days to protest the oppression of prison officials against the law. The public is now very concerned about Mr. Thuc’s health condition when he has to go on a hunger strike for too long, while the Vietnamese government has not yet responded to the request of political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc.