Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly August 31- September 6: Amnesty International Urges Vietnam to Release All Prisoners of Conscience

 

Defenders’ Weekly | Sep 6, 2015

Defenders-weekly

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The London-based Amnesty International has sent a letter to Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, requesting them to release all prisoners of conscience on the occasion of the country’s 70th National Day [Sept. 2].

On September 1, Dr. Nguyen Quang A, a prominent intellectual and dissident in Vietnam, was illegally detained by security in Noi Bai International Airport for 15 hours when he returned from the U.S. Police said the detention was due to national security reason.

The Vietnam Pathway released a statement condemning government violence against local activists.

On September 1, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power honored a group of 20 outstanding female prisoners of conscience in the world, and called for their unconditional and immediate release of them. Vietnamese prisoners of conscience Ta Phong Tan and Bui Thi Minh Hang were among the group.

U.S Congressman Lowenthal criticizes Vietnam’s unfair amnesty policy after Hanoi released over 18,000 prisoners and convicted people on the occasion of the National Day but non of them were prisoners of conscience.

And other important news

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***********31/8/2015*********

Amnesty International Urges Vietnam to Release All Prisoners of Conscience

The London-based Amnesty International has sent a letter to Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, requesting them to release all prisoners of conscience on the occasion of the country’s 70th National Day [Sept. 2].

In his letter dated Aug. 31, Secretary General Salil Shetty said the communist government in Vietnam should include all prisoners of conscience in a list of imprisoned people who will receive amnesty on the occasion.

The Amnesty International considers people imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression to be prisoners of conscience, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release everywhere in the world.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Vietnam has the duty to respect and protect the rights set out in this core human rights treaty, he said.

He also listed 51 prisoners of conscience, who have done nothing more than peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and are currently serving prison sentences between two years and life imprisonment, including blogger Ta Phong Tan, Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly and blogger and IT entrepreneur Tran Huynh Duy Thuc.

Those people are sentenced due to controversial articles of the Vietnamese Penal Code, and many of them are held in harsh conditions, in poor health and have been subjected to abusive treatment by prison authorities, the letter said.

Mr. Shetty urged Vietnam’s government to comply with international human rights law and take this opportunity to release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience, including the named 51 activists.

He also urged Vietnam to ensure that peaceful activists, human rights defenders, journalists and other individuals are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals, harassment, intimidation, arrest, prosecution and imprisonment, in compliance with Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international human rights law and standards, including the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Two days later, Mr. Shetty and directors of Amnesty International offices in Australia,  Cote d’Ivoire, France, Germany, Japan, South  Korea, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the U.S. also wrote similar letters to Vietnam’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last week, Vietnam decided to grant amnesty for 18,539 inmates, included 1,449 drug-related criminals, 2,188 murders, 1,363 inmates for raping and 512 for corruption and economic mismanagement, but no one sentenced for “propaganda” against the state or attempting to overthrow the regime, the charges frequently used for activists, was on the list.

The figure included 34 foreigners, six Laotians, one Cambodian, one Thai, two Australians, 16 Chinese, six Malaysians and two Filipinos.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi always denies imprisoning prisoners of conscience but law violators.

Observers said prisoners of conscience will not be freed on the occasion since they can be used for trading economic interests with Western governments, especially the U.S.

Amnesty: VIET NAM: ALL PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE MUST BE IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY RELEASED

Amnesty: VIETNAM: LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

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Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience for Bargain, not for Amnesty: Observers

Vietnam did not grant amnesty for prisoners of conscience on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the National Day [September 2], since they are special good for trading economic interests with Western governments, especially the U.S., said observers.

On August 28, Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General Le Quy Vuong announced the country’s decision to grant amnesty for over 18,000 prisoners and convicted people, by any of them are sentenced for “violating the national security.”

At the press conference, Giang Son, deputy head of the President’s Office informed that on the occasion, President Truong Tan Sang granted amnesty for 18,539 people, including 18,298 inmates.

The figure included 1,449 drug-related criminals, 2,188 murders, 1,363 inmates for raping and 512 for corruption and economic mismanagement, Gen. Vuong said, adding no one sentenced for “propaganda” against the state or attempting to overthrow the regime, the charges frequently used for activists, was on the list.

This year 34 foreigners, including six Laotians, one Cambodian, one Thai, two Australians, 16 Chinese, six Malaysians and two Filipinos, will also be released, informed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ha Kim Ngoc.

Vietnam has used controversial articles 79, 88, 89, 245 and 258 to silence local dissent and human rights activists.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 prisoners of conscience for criticizing the communist government over economic mismanagement, corruption and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

Hanoi always denies imprisoning prisoners of conscience but law violators.

SBTN: Vì sao Hà Nội không chịu thả tù chính trị dịp 2/9?

Thanhnien: Phạm nhân xâm phạm an ninh quốc gia không được ân xá dịp 2.9

****************1/9/2015*************

Vietnam Draft Law on Religions Goes against Freedom of Religions, Beliefs: Priest

The draft law on religions goes against the right of freedom of religions and beliefs, posing great public concerns, said Catholic priest Hoang Van Dat, general secretary of the Standing Committee of the Vietnam Episcopal Conferences.

The draft law contains many regulations which require religious organizations to ask approval of Vietnam’s authorities for their internal affairs, said religious representatives.

Người Việt: Dự luật về tín ngưỡng, tôn giáo và lập hội: VN có thay đổi não trạng?

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Cultural Program “Don’t Forget” for Vietnam Prisoners of Conscience

More than 400 people attended a cultural program in Springvale Melbourne  on August 22 with participation of singer Duong Hoa and music compositor Binh Cadilac, which honored Vietnam’s prisoners of conscience.

All money collected from the event will be for Vietnamese prisoners of conscience.

Nguyễn Quang Duy: VĂN NGHỆ XIN ĐỪNG QUÊN TÙ NHÂN LƯƠNG TÂM VIỆT NAM 2

**************2/9/2015*****************

U.S. Secretary Kerry Congratulates Vietnam on National Day

U.S.’s Secretary of State John Kerry has sent a message to congratulate Vietnam on the occasion of the National Day [Sept. 2], wishing all Vietnamese people peace and prosperity in the coming year.

“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate the people of Vietnam as you celebrate your National Day on September 2,” he began with the message.

Mr. Kerry said he was honored to visit Vietnam last month to mark the 20th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between the two countries, and to celebrate the great progress of the two nations’ relationship.

He said during his second visit to Vietnam as U.S. top diplomat, he met with local leaders to discuss shared priorities of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, trade and investment, climate change, and our growing people-to-people ties.

He was particularly impressed to see the progress the two sides have made toward launching the Fulbright University Vietnam in the near future.

Vietnam and the U.S. have elevated their ties to comprehensive partnership. Hanoi has sought to deepen ties with Washington in a bid to deal with China’s aggressiveness in the East Sea while the U.S. wants to have more partners in the Southeast Asia.

According to Vietnam’s government statistics, U.S. remains top importer of Vietnam goods in January-August, purchasing $22.1 billion worth of goods from the Southeast Asian nation, up 19.8% from a year earlier. The value accounted for 21% of Vietnam’s export revenues during the period. In the first eight months, Vietnam imported $4.9 billion worth of goods from the U.S., up 17.8% on-year.

The two countries are still negotiating on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreements, however, the two sides have differences as the U.S. demands Vietnam to allow establishment of independent labor unions and improve working conditions.

Vietnam wants closer ties with the U.S. which asks the communist nation to improve its human rights records first.

Meanwhile, Vietnam plans to hold a grand parade with participation of about 30,000 peoples to mark the Independent Day. While state officials and many ordinary people are looking forward to seeing the event, other people say they are not agreeing with the way the government to commemorate the occasion.

Mrs. Le Hien Duc, an activist in Hanoi, said the government should not hold such a grand parade amid the country’s bad socio-economic situation. People need new hospitals and roads while school children are still studying in poor-equipped classes. Somewhere in the remote areas, people have to risk their life to cross rivers since bridges have yet been constructed, she said.

VOA: Ngoại trưởng Mỹ chúc mừng người Việt nhân Quốc khánh 2/9

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Hanoi Police Detain Former PM Adviser after Foreign Trips, Beating Activists

Security forces in the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport on Sept. 1 detained Dr. Nguyen Quang A, a member of the former prime minister’s Advisory Council, when he returned from the U.S., foreign media reported.

Upon his landing from a flight from Los Angeles at 9.25 am, Dr. A was held by security agents who took him to a closed room to question him about his time in the U.S. despite his strong protest.

The Hungary-trained economist said on his Facebook A Nguyen Quang that police searched his suitcases and personal items, including a cell phone but found nothing.

Dr. A, who has posted a number of articles criticizing policies of the Vietnamese communist government, said he refused to answer to police’s questions nor sign any minute of the detention.

Informed about the detention, two sons of Dr. A and dozens of activists in Hanoi went to the airport to demand for his unconditional release. However, police in the airport denied of holding him and sent plainclothes agents to threaten to beat the activists. Many activists complained that they were harassed by thugs while policemen in uniforms ignored their calling for help.

After 15 hours of detention, at mid-night, police released Dr. A, who was a member of the Advisory Council established by former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. The council was dismissed by incumbent Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in 2007 when he took the office.

The incident happened several hours before the grand parade to mark the 70th National Day, in which about 35,000 people attended.

Dr. A was in Germany and the U.S. where he attended a number of workshops addressing human rights issues and socio-economic situations in Vietnam under the sole management of the ruling communist party.

He is among leading intellectuals who have been calling on the Vietnamese communist government to conduct political reforms to help the country escape from the current bad economic situation.

Vietnam has deployed a number of measures against local political dissidents and human rights activists, including barring ones from going abroad and detaining others upon their returning.

Police have also hired thugs to brutally attack dissidents when they are traveling. Dozens of activists have been severely injured from assaults of police and thugs in recent months.

Vietnam’s leaders have pledged to improve its human rights records as the country is negotiating with 11 other countries on the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. The country has also sought to deepen ties with the U.S. in a bid to deal with China’s aggressiveness in the East Sea.

BBC: Tiến sỹ Nguyễn Quang A bị câu lưu

*******************3/9/2015*********************

U.S. Senate to Work on Two Bills on Vietnam’s Human Rights

U.S. Senators John Cornyn (Republican, Texas) and John Boozman (Republican, Arkansas) will introduce two draft bill Human Rights Bill for Vietnam and Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act to the Senate when it holds meeting in next week.

The two bills will press Vietnam, demanding the communist government in Hanoi to improve its poor human right records if Hanoi wants to become a member of TPP.

Senator Cornyn introduced the Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act to the Senate two times before.

Machsong: 2 luật về nhân quyền cho Việt Nam: Sẽ vào Thượng Viện

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Vietnam Pathway Condemns Recent Gov’t-supported Attacks against Local Activists

The unsanctioned Vietnam Pathway has issued a statement condemning recent government-supported attacks against local activists.

The move came after Truong Minh Tam, a member of the Vietnam Pathway, was beaten by two thugs on August 24 after he worked with authorities in Prison No. 5 in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The thugs attacked him and threw his documentation and electronic devices, including a camera and a laptop into a river at a remote areas not far from the prison. Tam believed that the attackers were sent by the prison’s authorities who want to prevent him from challenging Vietnam’s authorities for wrongly sentencing him in a civil dispute case, and inhumane treatment of authorities of Prison No. 5 during his one-year serving there.

Four days later, Mr. Tam and other 20 activists were also harassed by plainclothes policemen and thugs in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong after they visited a local former prisoner of conscience. Tran Thi Nga, member of the unregistered Vietnam Women for Human Rights, former political prisoner Chu Manh Son and others were brutally beaten by attackers.

The Vietnam Pathway also called on Vietnamese people and foreign governments and international human rights bodies to take proper actions to demand Vietnam’s communist government to end violence against peaceful activists.

FB: Tuyên bố của Con Đường Việt Nam về việc công an và côn đồ sử dụng bạo lực với công dân

****************4/9/2015**************

International Campaign Calling for Freedom of Prisoners of Conscience Ta Phong Tan, Bui Thi Minh Hang

On September 1, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power honored a group of 20 outstanding female prisoners of conscience in the world, and called for their unconditional and immediate release of them.

Vietnamese prisoners of conscience Ta Phong Tan and Bui Thi Minh Hang were among the group.

The campaign titled “EMPOWER WOMEN, DON’T IMPRISON THEM” was launched several weeks ahead of the Beijing+20 conference in New York.

Ambassador Power called on international bodies, journalists and activists worldwide to voice about situations of the honored female activists.

Danluan: Chiến dịch quốc tế kêu gọi trả tự do cho Tạ Phong Tần và Bùi Hằng

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U.S Congressman Lowenthal Criticizes Vietnam’s Unfair Amnesty Policy

A U.S. congressman has written to Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang to express “extreme disappointment” that no political prisoners were included in a mass amnesty granted to mark National Day on September 2.

Over 18,000 prisoners and convicted Vietnamese were released on the occasion, the second largest ever, as part of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the declaration of Vietnamese independence.

“It is shameful that citizens who tried to exercise their fundamental rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association continue to be detained while convicted criminals are released,” wrote Democratic congressman, Alan Lowenthal, in the letter dated September 2.

The congressman represents a district centered on Long Beach in southern California which includes areas with a significant population of Vietnamese residents.

The former psychology professor sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and has been an outspoken advocate of human rights in Vietnam.

He said that the government in Hanoi needed to show it was serious about respecting international standards if it wanted to build better relations with the international community and finalize negotiations for the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership.

He named several individuals in the letter including the blogger, Ta Phong Tan, Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and Father Nguyen Van Ly.

Vietnam holds an estimated 200 political prisoners, including bloggers, advocates of religious freedom and other government critics. Many were convicted in rapid trials on charges such as plotting to overthrow the government, engaging in anti-state propaganda and abusing democratic freedoms.

The government denies them any political status and officially regards them as common criminals.

Mr. Lowenthal visited Vietnam with a congressional delegation earlier this year.

He said at the time that Vietnam was trying to get a better trade deal with the United States, and better access to the U.S. market, without making reciprocal concessions on human rights.

He said the U.S. Congress would not support a TPP deal with Vietnam unless progress was made.

No prominent government critics and bloggers have been arrested and sentenced so far this year.

Some analysts believe that the authorities in Hanoi are bowing to  pressure on human rights as they seek to make progress on the TPP and improve ties with Washington in the face of tension with China.

Others suspect any easing of repression is purely tactical and does not amount to a significant change of policy.

The recent detention, for the first time, of the veteran democracy advocate Nguyen Quang A is seen by some as an ominous sign.

Dr. A is regarded as a moderate and consensual figure in the developing civil society movement.

He was held for 15 hours at the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport on the eve of National Day after returning from a tour of the U.S..

He was accused by police interrogators of meeting anti-state activists in the U.S.

IJAVN: ‘Thật đáng xấu hổ…’ – Thư của Dân Biểu Liên Bang Alan Lowenthal gởi chủ tịch Trương Tấn Sang

VOA: Dân biểu Mỹ ‘thất vọng’ về đợt đặc xá 2/9 ở Việt Nam

Vietnamrightnow: Failure to release political prisoners condemned

=====================

Vietnamese Activist Advised by University Not to Continue Studying for Political Reasons

Pham Le Vuong Cac, a pro-democracy and human rights activist, has been urged by authorities of Hanoi University of Businesses and Technology not to continue to attend a course on Economy Law of the university.

The head of the Faculty of Law told him that the university’s authorities are not willing to teach him because the General Department of Security under the Ministry of Public Security reported his pro-democracy activities.

In turn, Mr. Cac said he will continue to study in the university. The university’s authorities should not take political decisions to halt his right to study.

FB: “EM HÃY RÚT HỒ SƠ VÀ NGHỈ HỌC Ở TRƯỜNG NÀY ĐI”

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Dr. Nguyen Quang A Considers Challenging Illegal Detention of Hanoi Police

Dr. Nguyen Quang A, who was illegally detained for 15 hours by Hanoi’s security forces on September 1 upon his returning from the U.S., said he may sue the Hanoi police for holding him without proper reasons.

He plans to encourage other people who have also been illegally detained in similar cases to take the same action in a bid to prevent law-violating moves of Vietnam’s authorities, he told BBC.

BBC: TS. Quang A có thể ‘sẽ kiện vụ câu lưu’

**************5/9/2015***************

 One Vietnamese Journalist Revoked Press Card

Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has revoked press card of a journalist for a “violating” status on his Facebook account.

Do Van Hung received the punishment one day after the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper dismissed him from the post of the editorial office’s deputy general secretary, the state-run online Tuoi Tre newspaper reported last weekend.

The Thanh Nien newspaper is responsible to revoke the press card and hand in the card to the MIC prior to Sept 18, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said, giving no reason of the punishment.

However, unofficial sources reported that Mr. Hung posted an entry ridiculing late President Ho Chi Minh and well-known General Vo Nguyen Giap who are believed to contribute great part to the country’s independence in 1945.

Hung posted the status showing mockery towards the two who are praised as meritorious officials of Vietnam on the occasion of the 70th Independence Anniversary on Sept 2.

The move shows Vietnam’s tightened control over social media.

In the 2015 list of 10 Most Censored Countries by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Vietnam ranks 6th among the worst countries as it “uses a vague law against abusing democratic freedom to jail bloggers”.

Vietnam is one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, with at least 16 behind bars.

BBC: Nhà báo mất chức ‘vì bài về 2/9’

Danluan: Nhà báo Đỗ Hùng, báo Thanh Niên bị thu hồi thẻ nhà báo vì một status Facebook?

BBC: Việt Nam cách chức nhà báo, rút thẻ tác nghiệp

=====================

Hmong Christian Kidnapped, Tortured by Vietnam Security Forces

Ma Van Pa, 30, a follower of Christian Duong Van Minh sect in Vietnam’s northernmost province of Cao Bang, was reportedly kidnapped and tortured by security forces on August 30-31.

The reason was that he met with a delegation of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom in Hanoi on August 29.

Pa was said to be stopped by traffic policemen when he traveled by a bus near Ha Giang city. He was brought to the city’s police station where he was interrogated by three police officers named Hung, Thiet and Ngoc from the Ministry of Public Security.

He was beaten severely on his head and face after he refused to provide a password for his cell phone. Police officers also searched his laptop.

In the end, the interrogators demanded him to sign a document declaring that he was not beaten by police officers, however, he denied.

IJAVN: Tín đồ Hmông Ma Văn Pá bị công an Việt Nam bắt cóc và tra tấn

****************6/9/2015****************

Vietnam Police Investigate Recent Attack on Thai Nguyen Journalist

Police in Vietnam’s northern province of Thai Nguyen are investigating a severe attack on a local journalist that took place on Sept. 4, state media reported Monday.

The victim was Nguyen Ngoc Quang, 44, deputy chief of the news section of the province’s radio-television station. Two unidentified men suddenly attacked him and his wife with hammers and knives when the couple went to work in their car.

Mr. Quang suffered eight stab wounds to his shoulder, waist and arms, while his wife suffered from injuries to her legs.

Some people believe the attack was the response of his recent articles on illegal mining in the province. Five days earlier, his house in Dong Hy district was under attack by an unidentified man who was seen setting fire to the gate of the house.

In Vietnam, many reporters of corruption cases have been attacked or threatened by thugs.

IJAVN: ‘Khủng bố các nhà báo chính là khủng bố dân chủ’