Urgent Actions Needed for Political Prisoners in Month-Long Hunger Strike in Nghe An Province and Elsewhere

Today marks the 30th day since prisoners of conscience at Camp 6 in Nghe An province went on hunger strike in objection to the Prison Camp authorities’ removal of all the electric fans despite the severe heat wave.

This incident has angered many people inside and outside of Vietnam. An urgent appeal petition has received over 1200 signatures from civil society groups and supporters. The updated list of signatories and related public actions for prisoners on hunger strike is available on the Facebook group Tuyet Thuc Vi Tu Nhan Luong Tam (“Hunger Strike for Prisoners of Conscience”), run by the drafters of the Urgent Appeal. 

The 88 Project also signed the petition and sent a report to the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Dreatment or Punishment, as well as the Special Rapporteur of Health, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Vietnamese authorities of Camp 6 have violated the provisions of their own constitution.  The 2013 Constitution of Vietnam states: Article 19, “[e]veryone has the right to life. Human life is protected by law. No one may be deprived of life in contravention of law”  and Article 20, “[e]veryone has the right to inviolability of his or her body and to the protection by law of his or her health, honour and dignity; no one shall be subjected to torture, violence, coercion, corporal punishment or any form of treatment harming his or her body and health or offending his or her honour and dignity.” 

Vietnam is also in violation of the Convention Against Torture, to which it has been a state party since 2015, and many other international human rights instruments. 

According to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

According to United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Rule 13, “[a]ll accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.”

Similar cruel treatment has seemed to be a systematic method used in many different prisons across the country against political prisoners. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc also went on a three day hunger strike in Prison Camp 6 in Nghe An province in early July to protest against prison staff’s decision to prohibit him from leaving his cell during activities hours, which practically put him in solitary confinement during the extreme heat wave. Today also marks the 10th day of Nguyen Van Dien’s hunger strike, and the 14th day of Nguyen Trung Truc’s hunger strike in Prison Camp No. 5 in Thanh Hoa province.

Those political prisoners’ lives are in danger, in places where they shouldn’t be in the first place. The 88 Project calls upon international human rights organizations, foreign governments, and concerned individuals to urge the Vietnamese government to take immediate action to improve the condition in prison for prisoners at Camp 6 in Nghe An province in particular and in all prison camps in the country in general. 

© 2019 The 88 Project