Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly April 20-26: Prisoner of Conscience Mai Thi Dung Freed

Defenders’ Weekly | Apr 26, 2015


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On April 17, prisoner of conscience Mai Thi Dung was released 16 months ahead of her due of 11 years in jail. The Vietnamese government took the move after being pressured by domestic and international human rights bodies.

Many imprisoned people refuse to wear clothes provided by prisons, arguing they are not guilty.

Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Dang Minh Man has been continuously harassed and put in a solitary cell.

Hundreds of farmers in the central province of Khanh Hoa threw fish on the National Road No. 1A in a protest to demand local authorities to deal with environmental pollution.

and other news.



Prisoner of Conscience Mai Thi Dung Freed

On April 17, prisoner of conscience Mai Thi Dung was released 16 months ahead of her due of 11 years in jail. The Vietnamese government took the move after being pressured by domestic and international human rights bodies.

Mr. Vo Van Buu, the husband of Mrs. Dung, said she was brought by police to her home at 6.30 pm on Friday.

Mrs. Dung is a follower of the unsanctioned Hoa Hao Buddhist sect. She was sentenced to total 11 years in jail for fabricated allegation of conducting public disorder ten years ago.

She was arrested on Aug 5, 2005 together with her husband and six other followers.

Currently, Dung is under very bad health conditions, with a number of severe diseases as result of inhumane treatment of prison’s authorities.

RFA: Tù nhân lương tâm Mai Thị Dung được trả tự do


Vietnam Blogger Network Condemns Hanoi over Arbitrary Arrest of Republican Party Leader

The unsanctioned Vietnam Blogger Network (VBN) has released a statement condemning the recent arrest of Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of the newly-established Republican Party of Vietnam.

Mr. Dung, 30, and his four fellows were detained by Hanoi’s security forces on April 12 after participating in a peaceful demonstration against the city’s program to chop down 6,700 healthy aged trees in the main streets of the capital city.

Hanoi’s police released the four guys two day later but still keep Dung, accusing him of conducting public disorders according to Article 245 of the country’s Penal Code. Dung is threatened to imprisonment of up to seven years.

According to the VBN, Dung and his friends peacefully voiced against the massive destruction of trees in the city. The move cannot be listed as public disturbance, it said in the statement.

If Hanoi’s authorities considered Dung’s activities as illegal, so they have to arrest hundreds of others who also took part in the demonstration on the Sunday two weeks ago since everyone is equal before the law, the independent organization said.

Based on the facts, the VBN considers the arrest of Mr. Dung by Hanoi’s police as arbitrary detention, showing the power abuse of police forces in the capital city. The arrest is serious violation of human rights, it noted.

The VBN calls on all Vietnamese to condemn the arrest of Mr. Dung and continue to voice to prevent further cutting valuable aged trees in Hanoi to protect the city’s green lung and environment.

No tree can survive if its savior cannot protect himself, the VBN said in its statement released on April 21.

The VBN is an unregistered body of independent Vietnamese bloggers who have been fighting for freedom of speech in the communist nation. On April 10, its co-founder Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (nickname Me Nam or Mushroom Mother) was honored by the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders with Civil Rights Defender of the Year award.

Meanwhile, environmentalists in Hanoi have declared that they will hold the 6th demonstration on April 26 to protest the Hanoi’s VND270 trillion ($12.5 billion) project which aims to replace 6,700 healthy aged trees with young ones in the city’s main streets in the 2015-2020 period.

Several days ago, Trinh Anh Tuan, one of the most active figures in organizing green demonstrations, was brutally attacked by plainclothes agents who used brick to cause severe injuries in Tuan’s head.

Hanoi’s police have also harassed, intimidated and threatened other environmentalists with aim to discourage them to take part in peaceful demonstrations.

The communist government in Vietnam has tolerated any demonstration which is not organized by state-controlled agencies and organizations.

Vowing to maintain one-party regime, Vietnam’s communist government has strived not to allow the establishment of opposition parties.

It has hired thugs to attack local dissidents and human rights activists, according to a recent report of the New York-based Human Rights  Watch.


MLBVN: Tuyên bố của Mạng Lưới Blogger Việt Nam (MLBVN) về việc công an bắt giữ tùy tiện anh Nguyễn Viết Dũng


Farmers Throw Dead Fish on Road, Forcing Local Authorities to Negotiate to Settle Environmental Pollution

On April 22, hundreds of residents in Cam Ranh city in the central province of Khanh Hoa threw large volume of dead fish on the National Road No. 1A, causing serious traffic jam in the region.

The move came as local farmers responded to the pollution caused by some property projects. The pollution occurred in local waters where farmers raise fish cages, making death of large aquatic areas.

Before throwing dead fish on the road, farmers called on the local authorities to settle the sea water pollution, however, the authorities ignored their demand.

The fish throwing took place several days after residents in Binh Thuan blocked main roads to protest pollution caused by a local coal-fired thermal power plant built by a Chinese contractor.

The peaceful demonstrations turned into violent with dozens got injured and long-lasting traffic jam in the National Road No. 1A which connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

VOA: Dân đổ cá chết ra đường, buộc chính quyền phải đối thoại


Newly-released Prisoner of Conscience Mai Thi Dung: I Was Treated like Animal in Prison

“During my ten-year imprisonment, prison’s authorities treated me like an animal,” said newly-freed prisoner of conscience Mai Thi Dung.

Mrs. Dung, who was released on April 17, 16 months before her term ends, said she was wrongly convicted for two sentences with total 11 years in jail. She had fought for religious freedom, nothing more, she said.

“When I became ill, prison’s authorities said I have to confess for wrongdoings and they will transfer her to hospital to get treatment,” Mrs Dung said. “However, I refused and they left me untreated until my health conditions became very bad, they took me to the prison hospital, where she was feted.

On Oct 2, 2013, they cheated me as they told me to take my items to go to hospital to recover my health after taking hunger strike which aims to protest inhumane treatment.  In fact, they transferred me to Hanoi-based Thanh Xuan prison, very far from my home province, making troubles for my families to visit me.

PVPOC: CTNLT Mai Thị Dung Nói Gì?


Independent Vietnam Civil Organizations Clash with Government-funded Non-government Organizations (GONGOs)

On April 22, independent Vietnamese civil organizations and the government-funded non-government organization (GONGO) fought each other to select a representative for Vietnam in the ASEAN People’s Forum.

Vietnamese GONGOs are funded by the local government and all their activities will serve for the communist government.

The peaceful debate took 45 minutes and finally Ms. Nguyen Hoang Van was selected due to her contributions to the previous forums.

RFA: Cuộc chiến đầu tiên giữa GONGO và các tổ chức Xã hội dân sự độc lập


Independent Vietnamese Civil Bodies Attend the  ASEAN People’s Forum

Independent Vietnamese civil organizations for the first time joined other counterparts in the region to attend the ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) held in Kuala Lumpur on April 22-24.

During the event, the unsanctioned Vietnamese bodies gave feedbacks to presentation of Vietnamese government-funded civil organizations to bring correct situations regarding human rights in the communist nation.

Activists attending the forum emphasized the need of the ten-nation bloc to pay attention to people’s interests but not just focus on trade interests.

Freedom of religion and expression topped the areas of discussion for Vietnamese civil groups attending forums on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia Friday, during which they engaged with their counterparts and government officials from the region.

One young Vietnamese presenter, Nguyen Anh Tuan, told RFA that he attended the seminar because he wanted to convey how poor Vietnam’s rights record is compared to other nations in the region and discuss ways to improve it.

“Based on what I know, the human right abuses in Vietnam exceed other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand,” he said.

“During this session, I will try to prove that the human right abuses in Vietnam are systematic and not limited to some areas. They are everywhere and include freedom of religion, expression, information and association.”

At the People’s Forum on freedom of religion, Vietnamese presenters displayed photos of religious leaders, including Mennonite pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and Catholic priest Ngo The Binh of Tam Toa church, who have been harassed and beaten.

Vietnam’s constitution guarantees freedom of belief and religion, but religious activity is closely monitored and remains under state control.

Chinh, who is also an activist, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2012 for “undermining unity” by maintaining ties with dissident groups and distributing material deemed to have “slandered” government authorities.

Last May, Vietnamese religious leaders appealed to President Truong Tan Sang and Public Security Minister Tran Dai Quang to end Chinh’s ill treatment in jail.

In August 2013, Chinh was beaten in An Phuoc prison when guards incited prisoners to attack him, and in May 2012, he was assaulted by police while praying in his cell, according to his wife.

Priest Phan Van Loi and blogger Huynh Thuc Vy gave speeches at the seminar via Skype from Vietnam.

Lucia Phan Nhung, a parishioner of Da Nang city’s Con Dau Catholic church, which local government authorities cracked down on in 2010 and have been harassing ever since, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service about a raid authorities conducted on the church during the funeral of another parishioner on May 4, 2010.

“They beat a lot of parishioners and arrested about 60 people,” she said. “After the crackdown, they still continued pressuring us, forcing us to sell our lands and move our church somewhere else.”

Nhung said her husband, Le Thanh Lam, was among those arrested and was tortured in prison. Authorities gave him a nine-month suspended sentence and put him on probation for 12 months.

“Since then, the local government has continued pressuring us to move,” she said. “They are determined to eliminate our church.”

Alex Quynh Nhu, the nephew of prominent prisoner of conscience Tran Huynh Duy Thuc who is serving a 16-year sentence for attempting to overthrow the government under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, told RFA that he attended the forum to present his uncle’s case as well as other similar cases.

“I wish to bring the truth to the people and community of ASEAN, and seek the support from the community,” he said.

Nhu also said this year’s APF was more meaningful than ones in previous years because organizers did not follow the “empty model” that they had adhered to in the past nine years.

“This year they have group discussions to give information about what really happen in ASEAN,” he said.

“The ASEAN’s APF this year has created a special focus on what people care about the most. Based on that, the 10 governments of ASEAN will have opportunities to review what civil society organizations present.”

‘Sweeping across the region’

The final day of the civil society conference began with an address by Malaysian Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, a minister in the prime minister’s department, who stressed the need for respect of human rights.

“The duty of the state to promote and protect human rights is fundamental,” he said according to an ASEAN press release.

“States cannot absolve themselves of their duty to respect human rights by saying that the rights of the majority need to be respected when this is only a thin veil to promote racism, subjugation, apartheid, slavery, genocide, or even extractive forms of industry.”

London-based human rights group Amnesty International, one of the discussion hosts at the People’s Forum, had called on governments across the region to end their clampdowns on freedom of expression and stop the use of repressive laws to silence dissenting voices, in a press release issued Thursday.

The group noted the suppression of peaceful, social and religious activism in Vietnam and other countries in the region.

It said that the country had at least 60 prisoners of conscience, including bloggers—many of whom were convicted for peacefully expressing their views after unfair trials.

Amnesty also slammed restrictions on freedom of expression across the ASEAN region under the guise of laws protecting religion, the monarchy, and national security, as well as the silencing of dissenting voices, calling the two trends “troubling steps backwards.”

“Government leaders attending the ASEAN summit in Malaysia have an opportunity to reverse this trend,” it said.

It went on to call for an end to continued intimidation, harassment, arrest, imprisonment and other forms of attack against human rights defenders operating within their countries and for the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience detained for peacefully exercising their human rights.

The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) provides civil society groups with a platform to address the organization’s leaders through workshops on various rights issues alongside the ASEAN Summit of Heads of State.

VOA: Xã hội dân sự độc lập VN lần đầu tiên góp tiếng tại Hội nghị XHDS Đông Nam Á


 Vietnam Strongly Protests Canada’s Bill of “Journey to Freedom Day”

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned the Canadian ambassador to protest Canada’s recent move which officially mark April 30 as “Journey to Freedom Day,” informed Spokesman Le Hai Binh.

The bill, coded S-219 and introduced by Vietnam-origin Senator Ngo Thanh Hai, recognized April 30 as a national day to commemorate the exodus of Vietnamese refugees and their acceptance in Canada after the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese communist forces.

“This is a step backward in the relationship between the two countries, negatively affecting the growing relationship between Vietnam and Canada,” said Mr. Binh at a press conference in Hanoi on April 24, a few days after the bill, approved by the Canadian Senate in December last year, became effective.

“For Canadians of Vietnamese origin and the wide Vietnamese diaspora now living abroad, April 30 depicts a day when South Vietnam fell under the power of an authoritarian and oppressive communist regime that pays no heed to human rights,” Senator Hai said earlier.

“We remember April 30 as a black day because it represents the sad day we lost our country, our families, our friends, our homes, our freedom and our democratic rights. It commemorates a day of loss and grief,” he said.

The bill recalled one of the worst historic moments of Vietnam after the communists, with great support of the Soviet Union and China defeated Saigon regime supported by the U.S. After taking over Southern Vietnam, Hanoi imposed hard measures against former officials of the Saigon regime, forcing them to spend long time in re-educational camps with severe living conditions.

Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese left the country in boats to other countries and they formed Vietnamese diaspora in many countries. Currently, over three millions of Vietnamese live abroad, mostly in the U.S., Australia, and Canada.

Together with overseas workers, Vietnamese refugees are sending huge remittance of between $8 billion and $11 billion every year to their home country.

Meanwhile, Vietnam and Canada are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement which is expected to boost trade and investment between the two countries and eleven other nations, including the U.S. and Japan.

Canada is the 13th largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with total capital of nearly $5 billion in 138 projects.

Vietnam exported $2.3 billion of goods, mostly clothing, footwear and high-tech goods, according to Canadian government data.

BBC: VN phản đối Canada về ‘luật 30/4′


Prisoners of Conscience Refuse to Wear Prison’s Clothes

A number of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, including human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, land rights activist Bui Thi Minh Hang and political prisoner Dang Xuan Dieu have refused to wear prison uniforms as they said they are innocent.

Mrs. Quynh Anh, a daughter of Ms. Hang went to visit her mother at mid-April, however, she couldn’t see her as Hang is disciplined for refusal to wear prison’s clothes.

Mr. Dieu, who is serving his 13-year imprisonment after being convicted to attempt to overthrow the communist government, has never accepted the prison’s uniform. As a result, he has not been allowed to be visited by his family in the past four years.

Meanwhile, lawyer Quan has refused to take the uniform provided by the prison’s authorities since being transferred from the Hanoi-based Hoa Lo to the An Diem prison in the central province of Quang Nam.

RFA: Tù nhân lương tâm không mặc áo tù nhân


Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Dang Minh Man in Continuous Harassment in Prison

Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Dang Minh Man, currently serving her imprisonment in Prison No. 5 in Yen Dinh district in the central province of Thanh Hoa, is put in solitary cell after protesting the prison’s authorities’ plan to harass prisoners with useless television programs.

Mr. Nguyen Van Loi, father of Ms. Man, said he is very worried about his daughter’s health in the solitary cell where she gets only two 600-ml glass of water.

Man was arrested in 2011, together with her mother Dang Ngoc Minh and younger brother Nguyen Dang Vinh Phuc as well as over ten of Catholic youths in the central province of Nghe An. Two years later, they were tried with allegation of conducting attempts to overthrow the communist government under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

RFA: Cô Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn tiếp tục bị sách nhiễu, biệt giam


 Hanoi Suppresses Peaceful Green Demonstration, Detaining 20 Environmentalists

Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi on April 26 violently dispersed a peaceful green demonstration, detaining for several hours around 20 local environmentalists who protest a controversial plan by the city’s authorities to chop down 6,700 healthy aged trees in main streets.

The violent suppression of Hanoi’s police came around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, a few minutes after local activists started their 6th peaceful protest in Hoan Kiem Lake in the city’s heart.

Policemen and plainclothes agents stumped into the group of people who hang up banners demanding the city to stop the environment-destructive plan and bring responsible individuals to the court. They arrested the most active participants, including land rights activist Tran Thi Nga, land petitioner Thuy Nguyen, blogger Doan Trang and human rights activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh.

Police forced the detainees into a bus which later went to a police station in Long Bien district, several kilometers away from the city’s center. In the station, police questioned the detainees one by one, and released them several hours later.

One day earlier, Hanoi’s People’s Committee ordered the city’s Police Department not to allow unsanctioned gathering in the city’s center, arguing to ensure peace and stability in the city during the 6-day public holiday commencing April 28. In turn, the Police Department requested security forces in districts and communes to take all measures to prevent local activists from taking part in demonstrations.

Many activists reported that police and local authorities came to their private houses to persuade them not to participate in demonstrations in coming weekends, and threatened to use tough measures against those ignoring their warnings.

The violent suppression and massive arrest were taken after demonstrations in the five consecutive Sundays in the Hanoi’s center without being intervened. Two weeks ago, Hanoi detained a group of five members of the newly-established Republican Party of Vietnam after they joined others environmentalists in green demonstration. Two days later, police released four but still hold the party’s founder and leader Nguyen Viet Hung, accusing him of causing public disturbance.

The communist-ruled government has not tolerated demonstrations which are not controlled by state agencies. In 2011-2014, Hanoi’s security forces violently suppressed a number of anti-China protests and arrested many activists, holding them in re-educational camps before freeing them under domestic and international pressure.

The green campaign started in Hanoi in March to protest the Hanoi’s VND270 trillion ($12.5 billion) project which aims to replace 6,700 aged trees in some main streets in the 2015-2020 period. Environmentalists have found that around 2,000 trees were cut, most of them were healthy and planted by French over 100 years ago.

The campaign has attracted the participation of thousands of people in different social backgrounds in Hanoi and other cities and provinces. Many foreigners have also expressed their sympathy to Vietnamese environmentalists.

Hanoi’s authorities have determined to continue the project despite strong protest of people. They have also ignored the request of Vietnam’s government to stop the project and investigate the massive destruction of aged trees in the city.

RFA : Ít nhất 20 người bị bắt khi tuần hành “Vì một Hà Nội xanh”