Hanoi (AsiaNews/EDA) - For Vietnam's political prisoners and its prisoners
of conscience, hunger strike has become the most powerful tool in the fight against
abuse in prison and unjust sentences imposed by Communist authorities.
After Cu Huy Ha Vu, an activist who has not touched food for 27 days,
Tran Minh Nhât, a Catholic who stopped eating to protest prison
conditions, another Catholic, a lawyer by profession, has decided not to eat
for the next week. Le Quoc Quan's reasons for his extreme protest are
different. His goal is to fast, pray and meditate in order to prepare himself for
his trial on 9 July.
Quan, 42, is a Catholic lawyer and a political prisoner. He has decided to fast
and pray in the next few days to prepare himself, body and mind, to meet tax
evasion charges levied against him under Article 161 of Vietnam's Penal Code.
was arrested taking his children to school in Hanoi, Le Quoc was sent to Hoa Lo
Prison No. 1. For a long time, neither
his lawyer nor his family were able to see him.
against him is a ploy frequently used by the Communist Party to imprison or
silence its detractors, activists said in recent weeks. If convicted, he could
get up to "three years in prison, plus a hefty fine."
Quan has not been able to practice as a lawyer for some time, and has been expelled
from the country's bar association. Since then, he has devoted all his time to defending
human rights by action and on his blog.
in a predominantly Buddhist nation, he was repeatedly arrested
and beaten by police and the authorities for his campaigns in defence human
rights and religious freedom.
he was jailed for "Carrying out activities aimed at [. . .] subverting the
government of the people" (Article 79 of the Criminal Code). Eventually, he
was released following protests from the United States.
arrest is part of a campaign undertaken by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last
September to stop online blogs and other sites from criticising and exposing widespread
corruption among party members and government officials who got rich during the
recent financial crisis.
to Human Rights Watch, at least 40 bloggers, dissidents and activists were convicted
last year in Vietnam. They include at least 18 accused of "Conducting
propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam» in violation of Article
88 of the Criminal Code, an infamous legal tool used by the authorities to
suppress activism and dissent.