May 11, 2015
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly May 04-10: Novelist Vo Thi Hai Leaves Vietnam Writers Association
Defenders’ Weekly | May 10, 2015
On May 5, novelist Vo Thi Hao declared that she will be no longer a member of the Vietnam Writer Association since the organization has many acts against the freedom of writers’ rights as well as their rights to freely create.
On the same day, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que was harassed by Ho Chi Minh City security forces which blocked his private house and not allowed him to go out.
On May 7, blogger Le Anh Hung and land petitioner Maria Thuy Nguyen were barred from Hanoi police from going abroad.
U.S. Department of State urged Vietnam’s communist government to immediately free blogger Ta Phong Tan who had many online articles criticizing the Vietnamese government policies.
and other news.
Vietnam Inter-religion Council Holds Praying and Gives Presents for Cancer-infected Children and Former Boat People
On May 1, the Vietnam Inter-religion Council and the leadership of the Saigon-based Lien Tri Pagoda held a praying for cancer-infected children and gave presents for them as well as former boat people, who were forced to return to Vietnam from refugee’s camps in the Southeast Asia.
Each cancer-hit children received a present valued VND550,000 while every boat individual received VND500,000.
Dr. Nguyen Quang Son said if Vietnam’s government should use money spending on firing fireworks on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the country’s reunification to buy drugs and presents for ill people.
Recently, authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have strived to take the land on which resides Lien Tri Pagoda which has hosted numerous disease-hit people, including children.
Freedom of Press Day Marked Worldwide
May 1 is the world’s day on freedom of press the UN proclaimed in 1993 to support and praise the basic principles of the press freedom which President Barack Obama described the essentiance for democracy.
The UN said the Press Freedom Day is also the occasion to inform people about press freedom violations and in dozens of countries, publication is still censored, suspended and banned while journalists, editors and publishers have been harassed, attacked, arrested and killed.
On the occasion, President Obama met with three journalists from Vietnam, Russia and Ethiopia to discuss on human rights and the press freedom. Mr. Obama said he is very concerned about poor human rights records in the three countries.
Dr. Nguyen Dan Que Harassed, Blocked from Going Out
On May 5-6, HCM City police blocked the private house of Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, not allowing him to go out.
A group of four policemen led by an official stationed in the front of his house. They also insulted and threatened him.
Security forces across Vietnam have detained or blocked private houses of many local political dissidents and human rights activists in a bid to prevent them from taking part in a meeting with U.S. diplomats, who are in the communist nation to attend the 19th session of the two countries’ Human Rights Dialogue.
Among harassed are former political prisoners Dr. Pham Hong Son, Phạm Van Troi, human rights lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Venerable Thich Thien Minh, writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, and social activists Nguyen Van De, Le Hong Phong and Mai Phuong Thao.
Dr. Son, a Hanoi-based former political prisoner and one of the leading dissidents in the communist nation, has complained in his facebook account that local police have blocked his private house in Ba Dinh district in recent days. A police officer informed him that he will not be allowed to go out in several days, said Mr. Son who met a number of high-ranking foreign guests in the past.
Mr. Troi and Mr. Nghia, who are under house arrest after serving long-term imprisonment for anti-state propaganda allegation, have been told not to go out this week. Their private houses are under close surveillance of the local policemen.
Human rights advocate Truyen in Dong Thap province informed that police have barred him and Dr. Que and Ven. Minh from attempting to go to Hanoi to attend the meeting with the U.S.’s guests on May 6. Their moves are under the watch of security agents.
Mr. De, a member of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy, informed that he was detained by Thanh Tri district police in the morning of May 6 when he headed to the meeting with U.S.’s diplomats.
In early morning of the same day, a group of 20 Hanoi policemen stormed into Mrs. Thao’s private house in Giap Bat commune, Hoang Mai district and forced her to a car to the commune police station and then to the district police heart-quarter without showing any legal document despite strong protest of the activist.
Policemen brutally took me to the car, treating me like a criminal, said Thao, who has been actively participating in demonstrations against China’s violations to Vietnam’s sovereignty, and protests against Hanoi’s plan to chop down 6,700 valuable aged trees in city’s main streets.
During the five hours in police station, police officers tried to interrogate her but she refused to answer but demanded for unconditional release, said Thao, who is a member of the unsanctioned Vietnam Women for Human Rights.
Afternoon, Thao was freed after many of her friends came to the police station to ask for her immediate release.
Thao said the purpose of her detention is to prevent her from participating in the meeting with U.S.’s diplomats scheduled in the morning of Wednesday.
Thao, who has often provided assistance for land petitioners, has been regular subject of police’s harassment. Several months ago, after donating farmers in Duong Noi with some food, she was stopped by traffic police without committing any fault. Police held her motorbike and imposed heavy fine although she did not commit traffic violations.
Dr. Son, Mrs. Thao and Mr. De were among a number of local activists invited by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to meet with Ambassador Ted Osius and Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski.
Vietnam’s police have often barred local activists from taking part in meetings with foreign diplomats.
Despite illegal efforts of Vietnam’s security forces, 14 representatives of independent civil societies successfully came to the meeting with the U.S.’s senior diplomats who want to have overview of human rights situation before taking part in the 19th Vietnam – U.S. Human Rights Dialogue scheduled in Hanoi on May 7, informed blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy, who represented the unregistered Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam at the event.
Ambassador Osius and Mr. Malinowski will represent the U.S.’s side while Vu Anh Quang, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of International Organizations will lead the Vietnamese side at the dialogue tomorrow.
The two sides will discuss on a wide range of human rights issues, including legal reform, rule of law, freedom of expression and assembly, religious freedom, labor rights, and disability rights.
On this occasion, the U.S delegation will visit Vietnam’s Central Highlands, where they will hold discussions with local government officials and members of civil society.
The last dialogue which was organized in Washington on Dec 26, 2014 covered the same issues.
The U.S. Department of State said that human rights remain a key issue in the bilateral relations and a number of the U.S. officials, mostly congresspersons and senators, have raised concerns over Vietnam’s poor rights records over the past years.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended the Obama administration to put Vietnam back in the list of countries of particular concern (CPC) for its backsliding on religious freedom.
Novelist Vo Thi Hao Protests Vietnam Writer Association by Leaving Organization
Well-known novelist Vo Thi Hao on May 7 declared to leave the Vietnam Writer Association after the association delisted nine members who bravely promote freedom of writing in the communist nation.
Two days earlier, the Vietnam Writer Association ordered Ho Chi Minh City Writer Association to delist nine writers in the city who have sought to establish an independent association for writers.
In her declaration sent to BBC, Ms. Hao said the Vietnam Writer Association have conducted numerous acts which halt freedom of thinking, freedom of creation and other rights of writers.
The association’s acts violate the International Covenant on the economic, social and cultural rights, and the UN Convention on civil and political rights Vietnam has signed, Ms. Hao noted.
She self declared no longer member of the Vietnam Write Association which is a political organization under close management of the ruling communist party.
Religious Freedom is the basic right, key for democracy in Vietnam: Ven. Do
The religious freedom is the basic right, the key for democracy in Vietnam, said Venerable Thich Quang Do, prominent dissident and Patriarch of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) at a meeting with a visiting delegation of the U.S. Congress led by Representative Matt Salmon in the Saigon-based Thanh Minh Zen Monastery.
Thanking for U.S. Congress’ concern on Vietnam’s religious freedom, Ven. Do handed over the U.S. Congressmen a file reporting the 40-year harassment of the Vietnamese government against the UBCV.
The document ended with six requirements for Hanoi’s communist government.
Congressman Alan Lowenthal promised to inform U.S. public about the situation of Thich Quang Do and the movement for freedom and democracy in Vietnam.
DTD: THÔNG CÁO BÁO CHÍ NGÀY 7.5.2015 “Tự do Tôn giáo là quyền cơ bản, là chìa khoá mở ra tiến trình dân chủ hoá Việt Nam”, lời Đức Tăng Thống Thích Quảng Độ nói với Phái đoàn Quốc hội Hoa Kỳ đến viếng thăm ngài
Four Vietnamese activists on May 7 were stopped by security forces when they were going to take international flights to Bangkok, according to social network.
Blogger Le Anh Hung (facebook account Le Anh Hung) said he and land petitioner Nguyen Thi Thuy (facebook account Maria Thuy Nguyen) were detained by Vietnam’s security officers in the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport.
Security agents confiscated their passports and detained Hung and Thuy to a local police station near the airport despite strong protest from the duo.
At the police station, Hung refused to work with police officers but demanded them to return his passport.
After several hours, police released Hung and Thuy without giving back their passports.
Hung is a member of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam. He was arrested and imprisoned for his online articles and denunciations accusing senior communist party members of committing corruption and other serious crimes.
His wife, Le Thi Phuong Anh, is imprisoned for activities advocating human rights and democracy and protesting China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea.
Meanwhile, Ms. Thuy is a land rights activist whose land was illegally seized by authorities of her home city of Haiphong.
On April 16, Thuy and 16 other Vietnamese were detained by Hanoi’s security forces when they participated in a peaceful demonstration to protest the city’s plan to chop down 6,700 healthy aged trees in city’s main streets.
Vietnam’s police have confiscated passports of numerous local political dissidents and social activists, barring them from attending international workshops and meetings with foreign politicians.
Other sources informed that the security forces in Ho Chi Minh City on May 7 also stopped two local activists Le Ba Huy Hao and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nhung, the mother of prominent young activist Phuong Uyen from taking a flight to Thailand on the same day.
On May 6, security forces detained a number of activists and kept others in de facto house arrest in a bid to prevent them from attending a meeting with U.S.’s Ambassador Ted Osius and Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski, who is in Vietnam this week to attend the two countries’ Human Rights Dialogue.
Dr. Pham Chi Dung, chairman of the unsanctioned Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam and Miss Le Thu Ha from the unregistered Brotherhood of Democracy are among victims. Last year, Dr. Dung was not allowed to travel to Switzerland to attend the hearing of Vietnam’s Universal Periodical Review while Miss Ha was stopped on her way to participate in a training course of the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders last month.
U.S. Department Urges Vietnam to Unconditionally Release Blogger Ta Phong Tan
The U.S. has called on Vietnam’s communist government to immediately release Ta Phong Tan, an imprisoned prominent dissident and independent blogger, said Acting Deputy Spokesperson Jeff Rathke of the U.S. Department of State.
Speaking at a daily press briefing in Washington on April 28, Mr. Rathke said Miss Tan, the winner of the 2013 International Women of Courage Awards, is one of the two cases of the department’s Free the Press campaign for this week. The another case is the call for freeing freelance journalist and former high school English teacher Reeyot Alemu in Ethiopia.
Miss Tan, currently serving her 10-year imprisonment for criticizing Vietnam’s communist party and its government, was among the first bloggers to write and comment on political news events long considered off limits by authorities, Mr.Rathke noted.
The U.S. has also called on Vietnam to allow all Vietnamese to express their political views freely both online and offline, he said.
Tan, a police officer in Ho Chi Minh City, started her works as a freelance journalist in 2004. Two years later, she launched a blog titled Cong Ly va Su That (“Justice and Truth”), which became popular for its reports on police abuses. Due to her reports and the criticism on the web about the policies of the ruling communist party, she was expelled from the party and lost her job in 2006.
She was arrested in September 2011 with allegation of conducting propaganda against the Vietnamese communist government for her writings against corrupted officials.
One year later, she was sentenced to ten years in jail.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the arrests, stating its concern for “what appears to be increasingly limited space for freedom of expression in Vietnam.”
In her visit to Hanoi in July 2012, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern for the detention of Ta Phong Tan, Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) and Phan Thanh Hai, the three members of the Free Vietnamese Journalists’ Club.
Amnesty International described the three as prisoners of conscience and urged their release.
The International Federation for Human Rights and World Organization Against Torture also released a joint statement calling on the Vietnamese government to release the three bloggers unconditionally.
Vietnam’s government released Phan Thanh Hai few years ago and last year, it forced Nguyen Van Hai to leave in exile in the U.S. Hanoi still remains silent on Miss Tan’s case despite strong concerns of foreign governments and international human rights bodies.
In late July 2012, one year after Miss Tan was being tried, her mother, Dang Thi Kim Lieng immolated herself on the front of the government building in Bac Lieu province to protest the imposed imprisonment of Tan. Mrs. Lieng’s death was described as “not just a tragedy for one family. This is a tragedy for the whole country,” by the New York-based Human Right Watch.
In December 2012, Ta Phong Tan was one of 41 people to win a Hellman/Hammett award from Human Rights Watch, which recognizes writers suffering from political persecution.
In 2013, she was named a winner of the International Women of Courage Award of the U.S. State Department.
“For her dedication to continually demanding a better government for her people, for her willingness to take risks for her beliefs, and for her life experience and skills as a writer that serve as an inspiration to women in Vietnam, Ta Phong Tan is a 2013 woman of courage, said Secretary of State John Kerry in the ceremony on International Women’s Day.
Vietnam’s government has often used controversial laws, such as Articles 79, 88, 245 and 258 in the country’s Penal Code to silence local dissidents and human rights activists.
Vietnam is among the “10 Most Censored Countries” in the world, according to the last week’s report of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The report, which used measurements on Internet restrictions, the presence of independent media and license requirements for journalists, among others, found that similar censorship tactics are used among the countries.
To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment, and restriction of journalists’ entry into or movements within their countries, the committee said.
Imprisonment is the most effective form of intimidation and harassment used against journalists. Seven of the 10 most censored countries: Eritrea, Ethiopia, , Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, and Burma, are also among the top 10 worst jailers of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ’s annual prison census.
Blogger Dieu Cay: Press Freedom in Vietna Cannot Be Halted
The freedom of press in Vietnam will be promoted in the near future, said prominent political dissident and famous blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay).
Mr. Hai, co-founder of the Independent Journalist Club, made this statement after meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on the occasion of the world’s Press Freedom Day.
During his talks with President Obama, Mr. Hai asked the U.S. to pressure Hanoi on human rights issues, demanding human rights improvement along with economic commitment such as TPP.
Washington should demand Hanoi to drop controversial articles, including Articles 79, 88 and 258 in the Penal Code and other laws which aim to silence political dissent.