A group of legislators from the German Federation and the EU has sent letters to Vietnam’s government expressing their concerns about the health situation of activists Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Nguyen Bac Truyen who are serving their lengthy sentences in Vietnam prisons.
On January 27, 2021, German Bundestag Representative Renate Künast, chairwoman of the Parliamentary Group on Relations with ASEAN, together with Representative Ms. Margarete Bause- a spokeswoman for Human Rights Policy and Human Aid, Ms. Hannah Neumann- a member of the European Parliament and vice president of the Human Rights Commission (DROI), and Mr. Frithjof Schmidt- Bundestag representative and member of Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, has an open letter to the Vietnamese government through the Vietnamese Ambassador in Germany about the case of two prisoners of conscience being detained in Vietnam.
The letter said that Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is currently on hunger strike for his 10th week at Prison camp No. 6 in Thanh Chuong, Nghe An province to ask the Vietnamese authorities to approve his request to consider the time to serve his sentence. Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen also went on a hunger strike to protest the bad treatment of inmates at An Diem Prison camp in Quang Nam province.
The congressmen asked the Vietnamese government to give Thuc and Truyen access to medical services to ensure their health and lives as well as to dismiss all related charges and immediately release these two human rights defenders.
The letter on Congressman Künast’s website said: “Thuc’s health is seriously deteriorating day by day. Therefore, we are extremely worried and urgently call on Your Excellency to intervene for Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc to promptly provide the necessary medical care. In addition, we also expect you to intervene with the government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Thuc and remove all charges against him.”
“Lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen, a human rights defender who is being imprisoned, goes on a hunger strike to protest the detention conditions and mistreatment of An Diem prison supervisors because they violate the ‘Law on Execution of Criminal Judgments’ ratified in 2019,” the letter wrote.
In early January 2021, Ms. Tran Thi Dieu Lien, the sister of Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, informed VOA that Mr. Thuc’s health was depleted after a long hunger strike since November 24, 2020.
“When the family visiting him in the prison, it was clear that Thuc’s was bare-bones, and he became drowsy and aged a lot. At that time he had lost 9 kg, consciousness was only 58 kg. Another challenge is that the weather is too cold, 10 degrees Celsius.”
On January 21, Mr. Thuc had a phone call to his family and said he was still on a hunger strike, using only milk to hold out, even though his body was only 56 kg, according to the family’s Facebook page.
“His family was very concerned about his health and advised him to stop the hunger strike, however, as always, he was determined not to stop until the Supreme Court took the law,” the Facebook page wrote.
Mrs. Bui Thi Kim Phuong, wife of Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen on January 29, told VOA that Mr. Truyen had a hunger strike for 3 days in November 2020 to support prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Hoa in speaking out against the hard prison conditions and maltreatment carried out by prison supervisors.
Last month, Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal about the health status of prisoners of conscience Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Nguyen Bac Truyen, hunger strikes in prison, and urged the Vietnamese government treats these prisoners according to the laws that Vietnam has committed to.