February 17, 2015
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Feb 9-15, 2015: Three Democracy Activists Jailed Totally 44 Months
Defender’s Weekly | Feb 17, 2015
The People’s Court in the southern province of Dong Nai on Feb 12 held hearing trial for three democracy activists Le Phuong Anh, Do Nam Trung and Pham Minh Vu who received respective 12, 14 and 18 months in jail.
On Feb 10, writer Nguyen Quang Lap, owner of Que Choa blog, was released on bait, one week prior to the Lunar New Year festival or Tet.
The Free Journalist Club on Feb 8 resumed its operations.
On Feb 13, about 3,000 workers of BSE electronic factory in the Nam Cam Industrial Zone in Nghi Loc district, Nghe An province started their strike demanding for Tet bonus and protesting some tough regulations set by the factory’s authorities.
and many other news.
HRW Condemns Cambodia’s Returning Vietnamese Refugees to Their Home Country
The Human Right Watch (HRW) on Feb 8 called on Cambodia’s government to abide by international commitment as not return Vietnamese political refugees to their home country since they would face discrimination in Vietnam.
The HRW also called on international donors to jointly pressure on Cambodia’s government, asking it recognize the persistence of Vietnamese political refugees and fairly adjust their letters asking for refugee’s status.
Many people working in refugee’s issue in Cambodia told the HRW that the Cambodian government’s behave was influenced by Vietnam’s government which has sought to decrease international concerns on human rights violations in the communist nation.
Vietnam Human Rights Ignored by International Community: HRW
Brad Adams, Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) for the Asia-Pacific region said the international community has not interested enough in Vietnam’s human rights situation. The New York-based body called on countries such as the U.S., Japan, the EU should demand higher human rights requirements for Vietnam whose human rights situation has been deteriorated according to HRW’s recent annual report.
Mr. Adams said that the UN Human Rights Council has many members which are authoritarian governments. Elected to the council, Vietnam’s human rights has not been improved.
Vietnam adopted the UN Convention against Torture last year, however, its implementation is under question, Mr. Adams noted.
Australian Legislator Urges Vietnam to Release Three Social Activists
Mr. Bernard Fernand Ripoll, a member of the Australian House of Representatives since 1998, has sent a letter to Vietnamese Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong to ask him to unconditionally release three democracy activists who have been detained since mid-May last year.
Mr. Ripoll, who is currently Australian parliament secretary for small business and shadow minister for financial service and superannuation, said Vietnam should drop allegation of “causing public disorder” against Pham Minh Vu, Le Thi Phuong Anh and Do Nam Trung.
On May 15, the trio travelled from the central province of Quang Tri to the southern province of Dong Nai, where tens of thousands of workers held demonstrations against China’s illegal deployment of HYSY-981 oil rig offshore central Vietnam. Some of protests turned into riots, where thugs attacked Chinese workers and destroyed their factories.
Just arriving in a local industrial zone, the trio was detained by security forces. Initially, they were charged with allegation of inciting anti-China riots, according to the state-run media. However, due to lack of evidence, the allegations against them were changed into “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Criminal Code.
In his letter dated on Feb 9, Shadow Minister of Sport Ripoll said that the place where Vu, Anh and Trung were travelling to, “is not a region with any curfew or any sign forbidding taking photograph, because it is a civilian area.”
He also said the trio never disrupted any public orders or incited violent protests. The trio arrived in Saigon on May 14 and went to Dong Nai at 8.15 am on following day, so they were not familiar with roads, things or had any connection with workers there to “rouse” or “incite” them, he added.
The long-term Australian legislator suggested Minister of Public Security to order Dong Nai province’s authorities to free the three activists immediately and unconditionally.
Mr. Ripoll has also urged the Vietnamese ministers of justice and public security to honor Vietnam’s commitment under the International Covenant on Civil and Politics Rights, of which the communist nation is a signatory.
His letter was sent three day ahead of the scheduled trial for the trio, all are members of unsanctioned The Brotherhood of Democracy, one civil organization aims to promote multi-party democracy and protect the country’s sovereignty against China’s expansionism. The trio will be charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Criminal Code.
Vietnam has used fabricated allegations to silence local dissent, according to international human rights bodies. In 2013, the communist government arrested human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan and charged him with tax evasion and last year, it used bogus traffic allegations to imprison land rights activist Bui Thi Minh Hang.
Mr. Quan and Ms. Hang, who actively participated in anti-China demonstrations in the 2011-2014 period, were jailed for 30 months and 36 months, respectively.
In recent years, a number of Vietnamese activists and land petitioners have been charged with allegations according to Article 258 with imprisonment sentences ranging from six months to seven years.
Vietnam, which reiterates to verbally condemn China’s violations of its sovereignty in the East Sea, has imprisoned a number of anti-China peaceful activists.
(Sửa bản tin tiếng Việt: Không phải blogger Le Anh Hùng, mà là dân biểu Úc viết thư gửi Bộ trưởng Tư pháp Hà Hùng Cường)
Outspoken Writer Nguyen Quang Lap Released on Bait
On Feb 10, well-known writer Nguyen Quang Lap, owner of Que Choa blog, was released on bait but authorities will continue to investigate anti-state charges under Article of the Criminal Code against him.
When he was arrested, numerous intellectuals, including former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Chu Hao and famous writer Nguyen Ngoc signed a petition asking for his release.
Mathematic genius Ngo Bao Chau and his two Vietnamese scientists sent their open letter from the U.S. to Vietnam’s government to ask for Lap’s release due to bad health. His arrest has defamed the country’s image, they said.
Article 258 and the Elder
In the first weeks of February, there are news saying some elders have been accused of violating Article 258 “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens.”
Mr. Kinh Quoc Hoa, the editor-in-chief of the Nguoi Cao Tuoi (The Elderly) newspaper, was dismissed while the newspaper was under investigation for violating Article 258 of the Criminal Code.
Vietnam has been criticized on criminalizing civil issues, especially after becoming member of the UN Human Rights Council.
Vietnam Imprisons Three Activists after Freeing Two Bloggers on Bait
Vietnam’s communist government has imprisoned three activists for anti-state charges after releasing on bait two detained bloggers one week ahead of the Lunar New Year or Tet, foreign media reported.
The People’s Court of the southern province of Dong Nai on Feb 12 found Pham Minh Vu, Le Thi Phuong Anh and Do Nam Trung guilty of conducting activities “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Criminal Code.
At the open one-day trial with maximum security while families and friends of the accused were not allowed to enter the courtroom, Vu was sentenced to 18 months in jail while Trung and Anh received respective 14 months and 12 months in prison.
The trio, members of the unsanctioned Brotherhood of Democracy, was arrested on May 15 last year when they went to Dong Nai to cover news on anti-China protests triggered by the Chinese illegal deployment of $1 billion HYSY-981 oil rig in Vietnam’s central offshore.
Initially, they were accused of inciting anti-China riots in which angry workers attacked Chinese workers and destroyed China-invested factories in Dong Nai province’s industrial zones. However, due to lack of solid evidence, Vietnam’s investigation agency changed allegation.
According to local bloggers, the violent acts against foreigners and their companies were not supported by many Vietnamese activists. Anh, Trung and Vu were among people calling protesters to act peacefully, and they went to Dong Nai province to cover news on anti-China protests.
Several days prior to the trial, r. Bernard Fernand Ripoll, a member of the Australian House of Representatives since 1998, sent a letter to Vietnamese Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong to ask him to unconditionally release three democracy activists, saying the charges against them were fabricated.
Earlier this week, Vietnam allowed bloggers Nguyen Quang Lap and Le Hong Tho, who were arrested in early December last year for anti-state propaganda and abusing democracy, to go home while the investigation against them is still running.
Lap, who had running Que Choa blog, has a number of serious diseases.
Both Lap and Tho had posted a number of articles condemning China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea.
The Vietnamese communists have ruled the country for decades, and they have vowed to maintain the nation under one-party regime. Their government has tolerated any criticism.
According to international human rights bodies, Vietnam is holding over 200 political dissidents, including over 30 bloggers.
3,000 Workers of BSE Electricity Factory in Northern Province of Nghe An
About 3,000 workers in BSE electricity factory in the Nam Cam Industrial Zone in Nghi Loc district, the northern province of Nghe An on Feb 13 started strike demanding for Tet bonus and protest some factory’s unreasonable regulations set by the factory’s authorities.
Representatives of the strike said they will continue their campaign if their requirement are not met.
They Vow to Try My Husband: Blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh’s Wife
Mrs. Le Thi Minh Ha, wife of blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (AnhBaSam) said she has filled the second petition to the Supreme People’s Procuracy asking for dropping all charges against her husband. However, it signed a decision on Feb 6 to send his case to the Supreme People’s Court.
The Vietnamese government has vowed to try her husband so there is a little chance for Mr. Vinh to be freed to spend Tet with his family, she noted.
Mr. Vinh, co-founder of AnhBaSam news website, was arrested in May last year and is probed for conducting activities “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens”.
He was allowed to visit his home shortly when his father died earlier this year.
Free Journalists Club Officially Resume Operations
The Free Journalist Club, which debuted in 2007, on Feb 8 declared to resume its operations. Blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay), one of the club’s co-founders, currently lives in the U.S.
Speaking from the U.S., Mr. Hai said the club resumed its operations after its two members gather in the U.S. The club will fight for basic human rights, not for commercial purposes.
He asked international and Vietnamese organizations, associations and individuals to continue to support the club as they have done since its debute in 2007.
The club was established in 2007, when few Vietnamese had access to Internet compared to around 30 million people often use Internet services now.
All of the co-founders of the club have been imprisoned by Vietnam’s communist government.