Prominent Prisoner of Conscience Conducts Hunger Strike to Support Formosa-affected People

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[themify_box style=”blue announcement rounded”]Prominent prisoner of conscience Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who is serving his 16-year sentence in prison, is conducting a hunger strike to support people in the central coastal region who have been affected by the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant.[/themify_box]

By Defend the Defenders, October 8, 2016

Prominent prisoner of conscience Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who is serving his 16-year sentence in prison, is conducting a hunger strike to support people in the central coastal region who have been affected by the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant, said prisoner of conscience Nguyen Kim Nhan, who was released on October 7.

Mr. Thuc started his fasting on October 5 in the Prison No. 6 in the central province of Nghe An’s Thanh Chuong district, one of the toughest detention facilities in Vietnam, said Mr. Nhan when he returned to his home in the northern province of Bac Giang from the same prison.

Thuc said he is conducting the hunger strike to support people who are seeking justice and challenging the Taiwanese company which illegally discharged a huge volume of very toxic industrial waste to Vietnam’s central coast, leading to the environmental catastrophe in which hundreds of tons of fish died along the coast in April-May. The pollution of the waters in the central coastal region has affected hundreds of thousands of people in the region, including fishermen, salt farmers, traders and people who work in tourism industry.

The 50-year-old engineer, entrepreneur and human rights activist was arrested seven years ago and accused of carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the administration under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Thuc started an indefinite fasting in his prison cell from May 24 to demand for rule of law and a national referendum on the political system in Vietnam. He agreed to end the hunger strike on June 7 after local activists persuaded him to save his life to continue fighting for multi-party democracy and human rights improvement in the country.

In August, the prison’s authorities disciplined Thuc, placing him in a room without electricity amid hot summer after he refused to work without being paid in prison (for more information about Mr. Thuc, you can read here: http://ec2-52-49-47-178.eu-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com/category/tran-huynh-duy-thuc/ ).

Meanwhile, Mr. Nhan was released two months earlier than the schedule. He was arrested in June 2011 for the second time, accused of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the Penal Code. Later, he was sentenced to five and half years in prison followed by five years under house arrest.

In 2008, Mr. Nhan, born in 1949, was also arrested and sentenced to two years in prison and additional two years under house arrest on the same allegation.

Many international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders have urged Vietnam to release both Thuc and Nhan as well as around 100 other prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally.