A campaign has been launched in Vietnam
demanding the communist government release a jailed rights advocate currently on a hunger strike. Family members of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and five former prisoners of conscience have joined a campaign calling on the government to release the hunger-striking activist who is being held in a prison camp in central Nghe An province
. The campaign launched on Sept 1. encourages "all supporters to journey with Thuc by going on hunger strike
." Each participant in the campaign is committing to a hunger strike for a day on an ongoing basis until Thuc finishes his protest. Thuc began his hunger strike in mid-August to protest demands from security officials that he "accept his crimes" so that he could be granted a special reprieve from the country's president. The 52-year-old Buddhist was sentenced to 16 years in prison for "attempting to overthrow the communist government" in 2010. He protests his innocence. Thuc is also protesting against unfair treatment in the camp which includes restrictions on his writing to family and sending complaints to state agencies. So far 40 people including pastors and Buddhist monks have joined the campaign. In January, Thuc requested the Supreme People's Court reduce his term according to the amended Penal Code which took effect early this year. The penal code states the punishment for his crime is only one year to five years. Thuc's relatives said he has refused to go into exile in the United States or Europe because he wants to stay remain in Vietnam and serve his country.