Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is currently serving a 16-year imprisonment under Art. 79 for “carrying out activities to overthrow the people’s government.” It has been almost 8 years since his arrest and trial. His family said that Thuc did not apply for a reduction of his sentence, because, according to Thuc, he’s “not guilty and doesn’t have to admit guilt” (in order to get his sentence reduced).
Thuc’s family is able to visit him every month. They run a Facebook Fan page for Thuc through which they share updates about Thuc and Thuc’s letters from prison with more than 24,000 followers. According to the family, Thuc has been doing well physically and emotionally. Thuc follows the news regularly, mainly through the state-owned newspapers that are allowed in prison, and regularly shares his thoughts on domestic and international news through the letters he’s able to send home (not all of them make it through the prison’s censorship screening process).
For the past 8 years, the Vietnamese authorities have been able to physically isolate Thuc from his family, friends, and the democratic movement. However, they are clearly failing in weakening Thuc’s spirit and his determination in bringing about democratic change for Vietnam. After 8 years, Thuc’s influence remains strong and has even become stronger. His refusal to be exiled has surely saddened many of his supporters who have worked hard to advocate for his release. But exile would mean further isolation from his support network and from the people for whose freedom he has sacrificed his own.
The 88 Project supports Thuc’s decision. All prisoners of conscience must be immediately and unconditionally released. Exile should not be the price they have to pay in order to be free.
© 2017 The 88 Project