February 15, 2016
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders Weekly February 08-14: Vietnam Human Rights Violations Condemned Internationally
Defenders’ Weekly | Feb 14, 2016
The Paris-based Reporters Without Border and the U.S.-based pro-democracy group Viet Tan as well as 35 members of U.S. Congress have condemned the on-going political suppression in Vietnam, asking President Barack Obama to pressure the communist government in Hanoi to improve its human rights record.
They said President Obama should use the U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Synnylands on February 15-16 to place human rights among your highest priorities on the summit agenda and encourage you to include robust participation by civil society organizations in the program.”
Meanwhile, police in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Lam Dong continue their persecution against local activist Tran Minh Nhat, a former political prisoner. During late night of February 13, thugs attacked the private house of Mr. Nhat’s father with stone, breaking window glass and lamps and threatening Nhat and other family’s members. One day earlier, also during late night, thugs burned dried wood near the house but the family detected the fire and successfully extinguished the fire.
Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, who was arrested and sentenced on the same case with land right activist Bui Thi Minh Hang and religious right activist Nguyen Van Minh, on February 11 completed her two-year sentence. Hang, Quynh, and Minh were wrongly charged with causing public disorders under Article 245 of the Penal Code and sentenced to three, two and half, and two years in jail, respectively. Their imprisonments were condemned by many international human rights bodies and foreign officials.
=============== February 10========
35 Members of U.S. Congress Calls on President Obama to Make Human Rights Key Part of Sunnyland Summit
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) on February 12, along with 34 of his Congressional colleagues, called on President Barack Obama to make human rights a key part of the agenda at the upcoming summit between the United States and ten Southeast Asian nations that starts next week.
The letter expresses the deep concern the Congressional members have about the condition of human rights in Southeast Asia and urges President Obama “to place human rights among your highest priorities on the summit agenda and encourage you to include robust participation by civil society organizations in the program.”
The letter to the President specifically cites ongoing human rights violations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Thailand, Burma, and Laos.
Vietnam’s one-party state continues to jail human rights activists and suppress religious freedom, workers’ rights, free speech, and freedom of the press, the congressional members said.
“These are only some of the most salient human rights abuses in ASEAN nations,” Congressman Lowenthal and his colleagues wrote to the President. “We strongly urge you to make human rights a key part of the agenda at the US-ASEAN summit, press ASEAN countries to commit to improving their human rights records, and engage human rights groups and civil society from these countries as part of the summit.”
================== February 11=========
Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh Completes Two-year Imprisonment
Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, who was arrested together with land right activist Bui Thi Minh Hang and religious advocate Nguyen Van Minh in 2014, completed her two-year imprisonment on February 11.
In early 2014, the trio, together with tens of other activists was detained by police in the southern province of Dong Thap when they were on their way to visit former political prisoner Nguyen Bac Truyen. Police wrongly accused them of causing public disorders under Article 245 of the country’s Penal Code and sentenced Ms. Hang to three years, Mr. Minh to two and half years and Ms. Quynh to two years in prison in an unfair trial in August 2014.
The appeal court in December 2014 upheld their sentences.
During imprisonment, Ms. Hang and Ms. Quynh have been treated inhumanely, forcing the two activists to conduct long-lasting hunger strike.
Last week, the London-based Amnesty International warned about Ms. Hang’s worsening health conditions and called people worldwide to write petition to Vietnam’s government to demand for unconditional and immediate release of the activist.
================= February 12========
RSF, Viet Tan Urge Obama to Pressure Vietnam on Human Rights
On the occasion of the U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Sunnylands, Reporter Without Border (RWB) and the U.S.-based pro-democracy party Viet Tan have urged President Barack Obama to take this opportunity to make clear that the agreement’s implementation cannot be successful without serious human rights improvements in the region, especially Vietnam where the communist government has systematically violated fundamental human rights.
In their article posted on the www.huffingtonpost.com on February 12, RWB’s Secretary General Christophe Deloire and Viet Tan’s leader Hoang Tu Duy said “Ensuring that Hanoi follows through on its commitments–to deliver meaningful human rights reform and greater access to information before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement can go into effect–is key. The U.S. administration must compel Hanoi to put this agreement into place every chance it gets. The ASEAN summit is of course no exception. We urge President Obama to request the Vietnamese authorities to release all bloggers in prison and to stop harassing cyber activists and dissidents through police beatings and online trolling. No trade is possible without freedom of information.”
Accordingly, the government of Vietnam’s freedom of information record is dismal. Hanoi is one of the worst jailers of bloggers and citizen journalists in the world, with at least 15 bloggers currently in prison. The country is ranked 175 out of 180 in RWB’s press freedom index, scoring just one point higher than China, and only two points higher than Syria.
While traditional arrests, trials and convictions of bloggers and citizen journalists may be in general decline, there has been a serious uptick in violent beatings by the authorities and the thugs they employ, they said.
=============== February 14============
Security Forces in Vietnam’s Central Highlands Province Continue Harassing Local Activist
Defend the Defenders: Security forces in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Lam Dong continue their persecution against Tran Minh Nhat, a former political prisoner and pro-democracy activist, the victim has claimed.
Mr. Nhat, who completed his four-year imprisonment in late August last year and still under house arrest, said his family has been a target for the local police harassments since being released.
On February 13, the private house of his father in Lam Ha district was attacked with stone while police were patrolling nearby. The assault caused heavy material damage, including broken window glass and lamps.
Mr. Nhat, a Catholic follower, called local police by telephone but they did not answer while policemen who were stationing around his private residence shouted loudly, saying they would kill all of Nhat’s family members.
Four days earlier, in late evening of the second day of the Lunar New Year or Tet, thugs burned dried wood stored near Mr. Nhat’s father’s house. Nhat said if the family had not detected the fire in time, the fire would have spread and destroyed the house and killed his family members.
Thugs also sprayed toxic pesticides on his family’s residence and the neighbor’s house on February 12, Nhat said.
Since being released last year, Nhat was severely beaten by police in Lam Ha two times, on November 10 and November 17, 2015. You can read about these attacks here:
Police have also blocked other activists from visiting him. On August 28, one day after he returned home from a prison, a number of activists came to visit him. On their way back, the visitors were brutally attacked by local police. The victims included land rights activist Ms. Tran Thi Nga, a member of the unsanctioned Vietnam Women for Human Rights, Mr. Truong Minh Tam, a member of the unregistered Vietnam Pathway, Mr. Le Dinh Luong, younger uncle of human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, and a young couple who want to remain unnamed. Mr. Son was also among the activists severely assaulted by the police. Son, Tam and Luong were severely beaten, with many injuries and bleeding on their faces and heads.
Vietnam’s security forces have intensified crackdown against local political dissidents and human rights activists nationwide few months before and after the 12th National Congress of the ruling communist party in which the party elected its new leadership with numerous police generals being selected in the Politburo and the Central Committee, the highest bodies of the party.
In addition to the recent arrests of a number of political dissidents, including prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, police have also briefly detained and robbed Ngo Duy Quyen, a pro-democracy activist and member of Bau Bi Tuong Than (People’s Solidarity), a charity group which provides material assistance to former prisoners of conscience and their families.
Security forces have also deployed plainclothes agents or hired thugs to attack pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders in many localities, including the capital city of Hanoi. Among victims of government-backed assaults are human rights lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan, and bloggers Doan Trang, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Truong Van Dung, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Trinh Anh Tuan, Tran Duc Thach, and Truong Minh Huong.
The Communist Party of Vietnam has ruled the country for decades and it vows to make all efforts to keep the country under a one-party regime. The communist leaders have requested the police forces not to allow the formation of opposition party nor tolerate any government criticism.