Jailed Vietnamese environmental activist Dang Din Bach went on a six-day hunger strike last month to draw attention to his case from the international community, RFA has learned.
Bach, director of the Hanoi-based Research Center for Law and Policy for Sustainable Development, was arrested in June 2021 on charges of tax evasion and sentenced to five years in prison in January.
He claims that his case was politically motivated and that he was targeted for his environmental activism as a part of an advisory board on the country’s free trade agreement with the European Union.
The verdict caused four United Nations special rapporteurs on human rights to send a joint letter to the Vietnamese government in February, where they asked for further information about the case, reminding Hanoi of its international human rights obligations.
According to the U.N., the Vietnamese government requested an extension for their response time.
“He went on a hunger strike from Nov. 24 to Nov. 29,” Bach’s wife, Tran Phuong Thao, told RFA on Wednesday. “Specifically, he wanted the United Nations’ [responsible] organizations to press for a conclusion on the Vietnamese government’s arbitrary arrest [of him] and demand his immediate release and compensation.”
The six-day hunger strike was the second since Bach was arrested. The previous hunger strike was to demand a fair trial prior to his court appearance in January.
Thao said when she visited her husband in October and November, security officers closely monitored their conversation, and the couple was only allowed to talk about health and family affairs.
She added that during the conversation, Mr. Bach was sandwiched between two security officers, and she and her husband had to talk over a handset and were separated by a glass partition.
Thao said Bach was not allowed to answer any of her questions about prison life.
RFA made many phone calls to the detention center where he is incarcerated, but no one answered.
The indictment for Bach’s trial says that he failed to file tax returns and disclose overseas sponsorship income and evaded paying more than 1.3 billion dong (U.S. $54,200) in taxes.
Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.