October 27, 2014
Defend the Defenders | 13/10/2014
On Oct 21, Vietnam’s government decided to release political prisoner Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) and force him to go directly to Noi Bai international airport to head to the U.S. witout meeting and contacting his relatives. The U.S. welcomed the Vietnamese move and asked Hanoi to stop harassing the government critics and release other prisoners of conscience.
Lawyer Le Quoc Quan, an political dissident who is still imprisoned by the communist government in Hanoi, demands for unconditional release. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail for fabricated tax evasion and is scheduled to be released in July next year. He is among the political prisoners that Washington urged Hanoi to free.
And other interesting news
Vietnam Activists Should Follow Fighting Spirit of Blogger Dieu Cay: Former Political Prisoner
Vietnamese activists who are imprisoned should follow fighting spirit of prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay), said Nguyen Xuan Nghia, a former political prisoner who term ended several months ago.
During imprisonments, Vietnamese political dissidents should be firm to protect their points of view although they may face harassment and inhumane treatment of prison’s authorities, like Mr. Hai did, said Mr. Nghia, who completed his six-year imprisonment recently.
During his imprisonment in Prison No. 6 in the central province of Nghe An, Mr. Hai was treated severely by prison’s authorities. He conducted a number of hunger strike, including a 33-day one in August last year to protest inhumane treatment. Writer Nghia, who was imprisoned for anti-state propaganda, was the person who informed the public about Hai’s hunger strike and the cause. The prison’s authorities severely punished Mr. Nghia for his brave act.
Mr. Nghia said the prison’s punishment is very harsh as the punished prisoners are forced to spend in a 5-square-meter solitary cell without being informed about outside world for days and nights.
Mr. Hai was one of pioneers in demonstrations against China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty. He was also the first fighting for freedom of expression, and was co-founder of the Club of Independent Journalists which promotes multi-party democracy in Vietnam.
He was sentenced to 12 years in jail for his peaceful activities after completing a 30-month imprisonment for a fabricated tax evasion.
Rights to Silence, Torture Protest and Judicial Reform in Vietnam
Vietnam already signed UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which not only helps ensure human rights but has positive impacts on judicial activities. However, it is only the first step since the communist government has not implemented it in the real life in the country.
Some legislators and senior police officers have controversial comments on the rights. Lawmaker Do Van Duong said that “the rights to silence is not the human rights while the right to defend is the basic right of the accused in criminal procedure. It (right to defend- translator) aims to protect them.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General Bui Van Nam said “Vietnam’s law has not definition on torture and regulations on deport of people who may face torture.”
Vietnam’s judicial reform is more symbolic with aims to attract international financial supports. In reality, rights and legal interests of accused are not ensured according to international norms.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski Visits Hanoi on Oct 22-26
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski, whose charges in democracy, human rights and labor will visit Vietnam on Oct 22-26.
He is scheduled to work with Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government Committee on Religions and other agencies of the parliament and the ruling communist party.
He plans to make a trip to Thai Nguyen province-based Phu Son 4 prison on Oct 25 in a bid to investigate living conditions of Vietnamese prisoners.
Vietnamese activists have urged Mr. Malinowski to visit prisoner of conscience Dang Xuan Dieu who is held in Prison no. 5 in the central province of Thanh Hoa. Dieu is under critical conditions threatening his live.
Blogger Dieu Cay Released and Forced to Live in Exile in U.S.
On Oct 21, Vietnam’s government decided to release political prisoner Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) and brought him to Noi Bai International Airport, forcing him to take a flight to the U.S. where he will live in exile.
According to his relatives, Mr. Hai called from Hong Kong in late evening of Oct 21 to inform that he is in a transit in the way to the U.S.
The France-based Reporters Without Borders said it delighted with the news and expects he will not be kept apart from his family. It demanded Hanoi to free 26 other bloggers and journalists who are still being held for exercising their freedom of expression.
In her interview with the Voice of America radio on Oct 21, Ms. Duong Thi Tan, former wife of Mr. Hai, said he was forced to leave the country without contacting his family after spending six years in jail for conducting anti-state propaganda. His sentence is due to his writings which promoting multi-party democracy in Vietnam, and protests China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.
Reporters Without Borders Calls on Hanoi to Release 27 Imprisoned Bloggers
Vietnam is the second largest prison in the world for bloggers and online dissidents, after China, said the France-based Reporters Without Borders. Vietnam’s bloggers are supplying independent information which is alternative for the government propaganda, it said, adding they report about systemic corruption, environmental issues and political development in the country.
Bloggers Truong Duy Nhat, lawyer Le Quoc Quan, activists Paulus Le Son, Ta Phong Tan, Bui Thi Minh Hang and Ngo Hao are among 27 Vietnamese political prisoners imprisoned with long-term sentences for fabricated accusations such as tax evasion, anti-state propaganda and government subversion attempts.
Their relatives have also suffered harassments and dirty propaganda of the government. The mother of blogger Ta Phong Tan self-immolated in 2012 to protest the government inhumane treatment against Ms. Tan.
Reporters Without Borders urged Vietnam’s government to release immediately 27 bloggers and online dissidents, remove censorship and drop controversial laws which aim to use against Vietnam’s bloggers, especially Article 88 and 79 of the Criminal Code.
Washington Welcomes Vietnam’s Release of Prominent Dissident
The U.S. State Department welcomed Tuesday the release of Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay), one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents, said Spokeswoman Marie Harf at a press conference on Oct 21, few hours after Mr. Hai was released and was forced to go to the U.S.
The U.S. welcomes the release, she said, adding Washington has continuously asked Hanoi to free him and other political prisoners in the communist nation.
Washington hopes that Hanoi will release other prisoners of conscience, Harf responded to the question whether Vietnam will free others.
Asked whether Mr. Hai was forced to go abroad immediately after the release, Harf said the U.S. will work with Vietnam to verify the information. Mr. Hai decided to go to the U.S. after the release, she said.
Hanoi remained silent on Mr. Hai’s release. He was not permitted to contact his family before leaving the country.
Imprisonment or Exile
Many Vietnamese political dissidents and social activists have been forced to choose between being imprisoned or living in exile. However, their number continues to rise despite intensifying crackdown of the communist government which strives to keep the country under one-party regime.
In the last decade, numerous young activists across the nation, including Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Me Nam), Huynh Thuc Vy, Dinh Nguyen Kha, Pham Thanh Nghien, do Thi Minh Hanh, and Nguyen Doan Huy Chuong have upraised to fight for multi-party democracy and human rights as well as the country’s sovereignty. In a close society with the strong propaganda of the communist government, they still realized the communist wrong policies, social dissatisfactions and concerns about the country’s sovereignty and freedom.
They understand that the basic human rights of Vietnamese which are enshrined in the country’s Constitution are violated. They also see the growing threats of China’s expansionism. They have voiced. They have expressed their patrioticism.
In order to deal with growing political dissent, Vietnam’s government has intensified political crackdown, arresting activists and giving hard sentences or forcing them to live in exile abroad.
On Oct 21, Hanoi released prominent dissident and most vocal anti-China activist Nguyen Van Hai, and forced him to leave the country immediately. The release is the result of a great pressure of foreign governments and international human rights bodies as well as the fight of Vietnamese in the country and abroad.
Hai’s release is a positive move of Hanoi responded to the urge of Washington in a bid to improve bilateral relations with the U.S. which partially removed its lethal weapon ban imposed over the communist nation since 1985. The move will help Vietnam in negotiating for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as well as pave the way for the visit of President Obama to the communist nation before he completes his second term in the White House.
However, by sentencing political dissidents to long-term imprisonments or forcing them to live in exile, it is difficult for Vietnam’s government to gain international sympathy.
BBC: Ở tù hay lưu vong?
Press Release of the Vietnam Path Movement Regarding to Release of Prominent Blogger Nguyen Van Hai.
On Oct 21, Vietnam’s government secretly released prominent political dissent Nguyen Van Hai and forced him to go abroad immediately without meeting and contacting his relatives, the Vietnam Path Movement released a press statement on which it declared that:
The secretive and hurried release of Mr. Hai might have diminished any goodwill the Vietnam government might have had and completely tarnished its reputation as a state. Mr. Hai should not be imprisoned since he always been an innocent man. What Mr. Nguyen has done was only to exercise his civil rights and human rights when he opposed Chinas aggression peacefully.
Vietnam has negotiated with foreign countries over free trade agreements and in order to earn the endorsement of the international community, Hanoi has released a dozen of political prisoners in recent months. At the same time, it continues to intensify political crackdown on other social activists. Such moves are not only morally wrong toward its own citizens, but it also clearly demonstrate a lack of sincerity toward democratization of the country as well as the lack of good faith in international relations.
The Vietnam Path Movement therefore calls on the Vietnam government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience, including Mrs. Ta Phong Tan, Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Mr. Viet Khang, Mr. Phan Ngoc Tuan, Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh (AnhBaSam). These activists are all innocent victims of the following controversial articles 79, 88, and 258 of the Criminal Code which aim to silence political dissent.
Lawyer Le Quos Quant Demands for Unconditional Release
Lawyer, an political dissident who is held in prison, has demanded the Vietnamese government to free him unconditionally, said his relatives to BBC.
U.S.-trained lawyer Quan is sentenced to 30 months for a fabricated tax evasion and he will complete the sentence in July next year. He is one of political dissidents the U.S. has urged Vietnam to free.
Mr. Quan and his relatives want Hanoi to release him unconditionally, said Le Quoc Quyet, a younger brother of the prominent activist.
Dieu Cay’s Deport Is Illegal:
Blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay), one of prominent political dissidents in Vietnam, was released from Vietnam’s prison and forced to go to the U.S. Many people welcomed him when he arrived in an international airport in Los Angeles after six and half years in jail in Vietnam.
Mr. Hai was sentenced to 12 years in jail in 2012 on accusation of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the Criminal Code. Two other blogger Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai were also tried in the same hearing.
Although many people praised the Vietnamese government’s move, Vietnam is criticized for forcing him to live in exile in the U.S.
Lawyer Ha Huy Son, who represented Mr. Hai in the trial and the appeal, said Vietnam’s government has no legal basis for deporting him.
Nguyen Tri Dung, a son of Mr. Hai said by forcing his father to live in exile abroad, Hanoi has proved that it can act arbitrary against the government critics.
Mr. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division said Vietnamese activists continue to face systemic harassment of the local security forces once he had faced.
U.S. Congressmen Ask Obama to Suspend Removal of Lethal Weapon Ban for Vietnam
On Oct 23, four Republican Senators Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, John Boozman, and David Vitter urgently called on the administration of President Barack Obama to rethink his decision to ease a decades-old arms embargo and instead condition U.S. arms sales to Vietnam upon specific progress to Vietnam’s human rights record.
In their letter to the President, the senators expressed support for U.S. efforts to help improve Vietnam’s maritime defense capabilities given China’s aggressive territorial claims, but stated that such support should be contingent on a verifiable commitment from Vietnamese authorities to make specific progress on human rights and political reform in Vietnam.
“The U.S. has an interest in helping Vietnam improve its maritime defense capabilities, but such efforts will only be sustainable if accompanied by a verifiable commitment from the Vietnamese authorities to substantially improve their human rights record,” the senators wrote.
“Such commitment could include the unconditional release of all independent journalists, bloggers, and democracy and labor activists; as well as the repeal of laws criminalizing peaceful dissent, such as articles 79, 87, 88, 89, 91, and 258. Another positive signal by Vietnam would be to return estates and properties confiscated from churches and religious communities, and a verifiable end to the use of tax laws to prosecute the government’s critics.
Hanoi Is Audacious to Say Releasing Nguyen Van Hai for Humanity Reasons: Activist
Vietnam’s government is very audacious to announce that it released prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai for humanity reasons, said Hanoi-based activist Nguyen Lan Thang to BBC.
At an online discussion held by BBC on Oct 23 on the recent release of Mr. Hai, engineer Thang said Hanoi should not use “humanity reasons” when it freed one of the most famous political fighters.
Democratic governments have never arrested Mr. Hai and other prisoners of conscience because of their peaceful expressions which aim to protect the country’s interests, Mr. Thang noted.
Translator: Vu Quoc Ngu
Summary: Nguyen Ngoc Anh