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    » 06/25/2013, 00.00


    Catholic activist goes on hunger strike against prison conditions

    Tran Minh Nhat is the second dissident in a few weeks to opt for this form of protest. He reports abuses and human rights violations, including the seizure of religious literature (such as a biography of John Paul II). Cu Huy Ha Vu's hunger strike just ended.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A Vietnamese activist convicted for plotting to overthrow the government has begun a hunger strike to protest prison conditions. Tran Minh Nhat, a Catholic activist, sentenced to four years in January for his affiliation with the banned Viet Tan opposition party, started to refuse food after he was denied reading material, including books about Catholic saints, and subjected to psychological and physical abuse.

    Ngueyn Thi Chi, sister of activist Nguyen Dinh Cuong who was convicted and imprisoned with Nhat, said that the young man decided to go on a hunger strike "to protest prison conditions." The protest, which began on June 21, will continue to the bitter end.

    Another prominent activist and dissident, Cu Huy Ha Vu, recently stopped a similar protest after refusing food for 25 days. He stopped his hunger strike after prison authorities agreed to investigate his complaints about abuses in prison. For him, this is already a "victory" for justice and democracy in a country under a one-party state.

    Vu's case had an international impact. The US government, several others nations in the world and human rights groups issued appeals to the Vietnamese government for his immediate release.

    The story of the young Catholic Tran Nhat Minh follows along similar lines. Convicted with 13 other Catholic activists, students and bloggers, he elicited the response of international organisations who saw in his case an illustration of the Asian nation's "political repression".

    Minh's decision to refuse food is due to the terrible situation in the prison where temperatures can approach 40 degrees Celsius, which makes life in the facility "almost unbearable."

    The dissident was also denied the right to have religious books, including some on prominent Church figures like Pope John Paul II and Card Nguyen Van Thuan.

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    See also

    18/11/2004 VIETNAM
    Police stops young Buddhists from going on pilgrimage

    17/06/2013 VIETNAM
    Further clamp down on web as third blogger arrested in less than a month
    On 15 June, 30 year-old Dinh Nhat Uy charged with "abusing democratic freedoms." He faces up to seven years in prison. In May, his brother was sentenced to eight years for propaganda against the state. In less than a year 46 people arrested for activism on line or on the streets.

    29/01/2013 VIETNAM
    Phu Yen: 22 Vietnamese activists on trial for subversion
    The accused, who are charged with violating Article 79 of the Penal Code, could get the death penalty. For the authorities, they conspired to overthrow the legitimate Communist government. The wife of the group's leader said that it comprises religious people involved in environmental, not political activities.

    20/07/2012 VIETNAM
    Three human rights activists jailed as "saboteurs"
    Sentences range from four to five years and a half. They were handed down because the three had exposed corruption and wrongdoings by Bac Giang provincial authorities at the expense of local farmers.

    17/04/2012 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese government tries three bloggers for writing about strikes and justice
    Nguyen Van Hai, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan are in the dock for "propaganda against the one-party Communist state". They posted their articles on the Free Journalist Club website, which they co-founded. Defence lawyers hold little hope for an acquittal. They could get up to 20 years in prison.

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