Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for August 12-18, 2019: Religious Activist Sentenced to Seven Years in Jail
Defend the Defenders | August 18, 2019
Vietnam’s communist regime continues its crackdown on religious activists, sentencing 38-year-old Rah Lan Hipto seven years in jail and three years of probation. With his conviction, the number of jailed religious activists rises to 55 at least.
Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Hoa, who is serving his seven-year imprisonment in Prison camp An Diem, is still held in a solitary cell as a punishment imposed by the prison’s authorities several months ago.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy activist Ho Duc Hoa, who is serving his 13-year imprisonment in Ba Sao Prison camp, is suffering from a myriad of health problems but has been refused medical care by prison authorities over the past three months. His request for urgent treatment was turned down by the prison’s authorities.
Representatives of seven trade groups have called on Vietnam’s Parliament not to approve the amendments in the Law Labor which aim to raise the basic wage and reduce working hours. They argue that the production costs and unofficial spending are high and the amendments would make them fall in further economic difficulties.
And other news
===== August 12 =====
Religious Activist Rah Lan HipConvicted of “Undermining Unity Policy”
Defend the Defenders: On August 9, the People’s Court of Gia Lai province convicted Rah Lan Hip, 38, of “undermining unity policy” under Article 116 of 2015 Penal Code.
Mr. Rah Lan Hipwas arrested in March and accused of connecting with people from the US and other Protestant followers in the Central Highlands to work for the independence of Dega State.
According to the local media, he used Facebook to connect people and received VND18 million ($765) for his activities.
In the trial, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and three years of probation for his peaceful activities.
Vietnam’s communist regime has often used Article 116 in the 2015 Penal Code (former Article 87 of the 1999 Penal Code) to jail religious activists. Currently, it holds at least 55 religious activists in prisons across the country under severe living conditions.
Imprisoned Activist Ho Duc Hoa Suffering from Multiple Health Problems
Pro-democracy activist Ho Duc Hoa, who is serving his 13-year imprisonment in Ba Sao Prison camp,is suffering from a myriad of health problems but has been refused medical care by prison authorities over the past three months.
According to his family, he is under bad health conditions due to a number of severe diseases, including stomach and abdominal pain, high blood pressure, numbness, and hemorrhoids that he has hidden from his relatives in the past eight years.
He has also developed symptoms that included liver and spinal pain, weakness in his right arm, and general fatigue from early this year.
While a prison doctor had given him a preliminary examination, Hoa had yet to receive a diagnosis and had been refused any medical treatment for the past three months, despite repeated requests.
Meanwhile, prison supervisor Vu Hao Hiep has reportedly ordered the families of political prisoners to refrain from sending food to their loved ones, who were forced to buy expensive food of questionable quality from the prison canteen.
Hoa was arrested in August 2011 as part of a crackdown on activists with ties to religious organizations, anti-China protests, environmental advocacy, and citizen journalism. Later, he was convicted of subversion under Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code.
ParliamentRefuses to See Citizens’ Concerned about China’s Hegemony in East Sea
Vietnam’s rubber-stamped Parliament has denied accepting an open letter of a group of citizens concerning China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).
Speaking in an interview given to the Voice of America Radio (VOA), prominent intellectual Dr. Nguyen Quang A said that a group of citizens came to the Parliament’s Office on August 7 to hand over a petition with about 1,000 signatures which urges Vietnam’s communist government to take legal action against China in an international court regarding China’s intrusion into Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Vanguard Bank in July-August.
“When we got there, no one received us. The security guard said we would need to make an appointment,” Dr. A said.
“The people are extremely disappointed at Vietnam’s timidity and careless, neglectful attitude towards China, not just in relation to what is happening in theEast Sea but also in relation to many other issues. I think [Vietnam] must take legal action, the sooner the better…”
===== August 13 =====
Seven Trade Groups Oppose Wage Increase, Working Hours Reduction
Representatives of seven trade groups have called on Vietnam’s highest legislative body National Assembly not to approve the amendment in the Law Labor which aim to raise the basic wage and reduce working hours.
They are the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the Vietnam Textile and Garment Association (VITAS), the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (LEFASO), Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (JCCI), the Vietnam Electronic Industries Association (VEIA), and the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham).
According to their joint petition, the working hours should remain 48 hours a week as they are applied in other developing countries while the wage should not be increased in order not to cause further difficulties for local businesses and foreign investors.
Some enterprises said Vietnamese firms are under pressure due to high fees of social insurance and union fees, the latter go to the Vietnam Labor Federation.
===== August 14 =====
Vietnam Requests Facebook to Identify Users’ Accounts
The Ministry of Information and Communication is working with Facebook so that Facebook must identify users’ accounts; only identified users are allowed to do live stream, state media reported on August 15.
The ministry is also demanding Facebook to conduct pre-check and remove political advertisements, fake news when requested by the government. These measures will be first applied in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.
Meanwhile, the ASEAN Today outlet says the EU-Vietnam trade deal shows the EU will look past human rights violations to push a trade agenda. But as FTAs with ASEAN states don’t offer the EU the same economic benefits, it’s unlikely the bloc will open more in the near future.
The Vietnamese government regularly violates civil rights to freedom of association and expression. Small landholders lose their property and livelihoods to government and private development projects. Political dissidents are regularly silenced and punished. The EVFTA gave hope to other actors in the region. It showed that in cases where the EU stands to benefit economically, trade negotiators are willing to overlook political repression and rights issues.
===== August 15 =====
Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Van Hoa Still Held in Solitary Cell
Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Hoa, who is serving his seven-year imprisonment, is still held in a solitary cell as a punishment from the authorities of Prison camp An Diem in the central province of Quang Nam.
The information was given by prisoner of conscience Hoang Duc Binh during his phone call from the prison to his family on August 15. There is no further information about Hoa since being disciplined by the prison’s authorities two months ago.
Binh said his health is good and thanks for supports from others and the Catholic community.
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