» 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
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