August 8, 2014

 

JOINT LETTER BY VIETNAM’S INDEPENDENT CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS

 

Re:Negative Repercussions of a Lift of the Lethal Weapons Ban in Vietnam

 

To: Senator John McCain
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse


Dear Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse,


first of all, we would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to you upon your visit to Vietnam. Since Vietnam and the US formally normalized diplomatic relations, your names have always been at the forefront of every effort to promote and strengthen cooperation between the two countries. It is with certainty that due to the close partnership with the US, Vietnam has been benefitting both economically and socially.  Therefore, we would like to express our gratitude for your dedication towards the advancement of the US – Vietnam relations.


It comes to our knowledge that in recent months there has been increased consideration among the US Congress towards easing and lifting the ban on the sale and transfer of lethal weapons to the Vietnam Government. While this new development would promise much-appreciated military cooperation between the two nations, which would contribute to the strengthening of Vietnam’s defense force amid growing aggressiveness in the South China Sea, we deem it necessary to put forward our concerns in terms of the risks related to the removal of the arms sales ban.


Although Vietnam has stepped up efforts on the international stage to demonstrate its celebration for human rights by joining the UN Convention against Torture and winning a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, its human rights record at home remains poor, if not deteriorating. In the last 12 months, the Vietnamese government has continued to employ vague national security laws, such as Article 79, 88 and 258 of its Penal Code, to arrest and imprison more bloggers, journalists, legal advocates, human rights and ethnic minority rights activists. Along with silencing dissident voices, there are increasing numbers of deaths resulting from police brutality, frequent crackdowns on non-state religious associations, and continued harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders. It is clear that Vietnam still maintains a big gap between its ceremonious pledges of human rights commitment in the international arena and its implementation at the national level.


Although there have been recent releases of some political prisoners, which we welcome and appreciate this demonstration of the government’s intention to improve on human rights, however, we must note that the ongoing improvement, if any, could be inconsistent as the government remains largely ambiguous and elusive in its plan to address perpetuating human rights issues. Thus, a backward step in human rights could be possible once the government achieves its political goals. In such a scenario, we believe it would be against the US Congress’s goodwill to have the lethal weapons turned against the Vietnamese citizens.
With regard to our aforementioned concerns, we would urge the US Congress, ahead of any possible arms sales, to request Vietnam to put forth a clear agenda of concrete and measurable actions in addressing urgent human rights issues. Those actions must include, first and foremost, repeal of vague national security laws, respect for human rights defenders and the immediate and unconditional release of all the Vietnamese prisoners of consciences, including these 25 people as listed in the attached document.


Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,


We the undersigned:


1.     Civil Society Forum
2.     The United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam
3.     The Association of Political & Religious Prisoners of Vietnam
4.     The Brotherhood for Democracy
5.      Bau Bi Tuong Than Association
6.      No-U FC of Hanoi
7.      No-U FC of Saigon
8.      A group of followers of Hoa Hao Buddhist Church West branch
9.      The Vietnam Path Movement
10.    Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE)

 

LIST OF 25 PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

 

1. Bui Thi Minh Hang
·         DOB: 1964
·         Years Sentenced: Pending
·         Location: Lap Vo Detention Center, Dong Thap Prison        
·         Criminal Charge(s): Causing public disorder (§ 245 VCC)
·         Details: Bui Thi Minh Hang is an outspoken advocate on behalf of peasants whose lands were confiscated to make room for development projects. She was among a group of 21 people on mopeds that were attacked by Dong Thap police on 12 Feb 2014, about 140 km of Ho Chi Minh City. The group was on their way to visit Nguyen Bac Truyen, a lawyer and former political prisoner in Dong Thap.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Health deteriorating due to hunger strike in May 2014 which lasted 2 weeks

2. Dinh Nguyen Kha            
·         DOB: 1988
·         Years Sentenced: 4 years imprisonment; 3 years house-arrest
·         Location: Xuyen Moc Prison, Ba Ria Vung Tau Province      
·         Criminal Charge(s): Spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of

          Vietnam (§88 VCC)
·         Details: Dinh Nguyen Kha was arrested in 2012 for handing out leaflets that “distort the Party and the State’s policies related to religion and land, and exhibit a twisted viewpoint regarding the Spratly and Paracel islands and the border land between Vietnam and China.” The state media accused him of “calling and agitating people to protest against the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

 


3. Do Nam Trung                                                     
·         DOB: 1981
·         Years Sentenced:  Pending
·         Location: Dong Nai Prison, Dong Nai Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Causing public disorder (§ 245 VCC)
·         Details: Do Nam Trung is a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy. He has been accused of provoking a violent riot in a Dong Nai Province's industrial park in May 2014 along with Le Thi Phuong Anh and Pham Minh Vu.


4. Doan Huy Chuong                                   
·         DOB: 1985
·         Years Sentenced: 7 years imprisonment
·         Location: Xuan Loc Prison, Binh Duong Province (K2)
·         Criminal Charge(s): Disrupting security (§89 VCC).
·         Details: Doan Huy Chuong is a labor activist who organized a strike in a shoe factory in Tra Vinh Province and distributed anti- government leaflets. Arrested on 11 February 2010, tried on 26 June 2010 in Tra Vinh Province; sentence upheld at appellate trial in Tra Vinh Province on 18 March 2011. As President of the United Workers and Farmers Association (UWFA), Doan Huy Chuong was previously arrested in Nov. 2006 and later sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Suffers from internal injuries as a result of being tortured in prison

5. Duong Thi Tron                                                    
·         DOB: 1947
·         Years Sentenced: 9 years imprisonment
·         Location: Xuan Loc Prison, Binh Duong Province (K5)
·         Criminal Charge(s): Causing public disorder (§245 VCC) and resisting officers performing their duties (§ 257 VCC)
·         Details: Hoa Hao Buddhist Church-Original Branch (HHBC-O) is independent to the state-controlled Hoa Hao Buddhist Commission and does not accept any interference by the Vietnamese authorities. Tron is an active member of HHBC-O (Dong Thap) and í the wife of its chairman, Nguyen Van Tho.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: She is suffering from low blood pressure and old age. She does not have access to medication.

6. Le Quoc Quan                                                                  
·         DOB: 1971
·         Years Sentenced: 2.5 years imprisonment
·         Location: An Diem Prison, Quang Nam Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Tax evasion (§161 VCC)
·         Details: Le Quoc Quan is a human rights lawyer, democracy activist and prominent Catholic blogger. He was arrested by the Vietnamese government on charges of tax evasion on 27 December 2012, convicted on 2 October 2013, and sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined 100,000 USD. The arrest was condemned by international human rights organizations and the US government.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Deteriorating health as a result of three hunger strikes

 

7. Le Thi Phuong Anh                                                          
·         DOB: 1984
·         Years Sentenced: Pending
·         Location: Dong Nai Prison, Dong Nai Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Causing public disorder (§ 245 VCC)
·         Details: Le Thi Phuong Anh is a human rights and democracy activist. She has been accused of provoking a violent riot in a Dong Nai Province's industrial park in May 2014 along with Do Nam Trung and Pham Minh Vu      

8. Mai Thi Dung                   
·         DOB: 1969
·         Years Sentenced: 11 years imprisonment
·         Location: Thanh Xuan Prison, Hanoi
·         Criminal Charge(s): Causing public disorder (§245 VCC)    
·         Details: Mai Thi Dung is a religious worker of the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church - Original Branch. She was arrested and charged under Article 245 for resisting and defending a religious gathering that was being interrupted by the authorities.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Suffers from internal injuries as a result of being tortured in prison and is currently undergoing medical complications due to kidney stones

9. Ngo Hao
·         DOB: 1943
·         Years Sentenced: 15 years imprisonment; 5 years house-arrest
·         Location: Xuan Phuoc Prison, Phu Yen Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Conducting activities to overthrow the people's government (§79 VCC)
·         Details: Ngo Hao is a democracy activist. He was arrested for writing and spreading articles criticizing the government's policies.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Suffering from old age; forced to work in prison and currently does not have strength to stand on his own.

10. Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung                                                       
·         DOB: 1982
·         Years Sentenced: 9 years imprisonment
·         Location: Xuyen Moc Prison, Ba Ria Vung Tau Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Disrupting security (§89 VCC).
·         Details: Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung is a member of “Victims of Injustice”—a group that advocates on behalf of victims of land confiscation.         

11. Nguyen Huu Vinh (Ba Sam)      
·         DOB: 1956
·         Years Sentenced: Pending
·         Location: Hanoi
·         Criminal Charge(s): Abusing democratic freedoms (§258 VCC)
·         Details: Nguyen Huu Vinh – a liberal blogger – is well known for his regular posts which have opposing opinions. He is also known for delivering news about China’s hostile and provocative moves against Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty, a topic the government of Vietnam deemed sensitive to the relations between the two countries and therefore, often ignored.  

12. Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy 
·         DOB: 1980
·         Years Sentenced: Pending
·         Location: Hanoi
·         Criminal Charge(s): Abusing democratic freedoms (§258 VCC)
·         Details: Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy is an employee of Nguyen Huu Vinh's business. She was accused of helping Vinh “publish online articles with bad contents and misleading information to lower the prestige and create public distrust of government offices, social organizations and citizens”   

13. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh                                   
·         DOB: 1986
·         Years Sentenced: Pending
·         Location: Lap Vo Detention Center, Dong Thap Prison
·         Criminal Charge(s): Causing public disorder (§ 245 VCC)
·         Details: Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh is a religious worker in the  Hoa Hao Buddhist Church - Original Branch. She was arrested along with Bui Thi Minh Hang on their way to visit Nguyen Bac Truyen.

14. Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay)                                            .         
·         DOB: 1952
·         Years Sentenced: 12 years imprisonment; 5 years house-arrest
·         Location: Prison No.6, Nghe An Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (§88 VCC)
·         Details: Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Nguyen Hoang Hai, better known by his pen name Dieu Cay, is a Vietnamese blogger who has been prosecuted by the government of Vietnam for tax evasion and "disseminating anti-state information and materials". His imprisonment was protested by several international human rights organizations, and Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Imprisoned in solitary confinement.

15. Nguyen Van Lia                                                             
·         DOB: 1940
·         Years Sentenced: 4.5 years imprisonment
·         Location: Xuan Loc Prison, Binh Duong Province (K2)
·         Criminal Charge(s): Abusing democratic freedoms (§258 VCC)
·         Details: Nguyen Van Lia is a longtime adherent of Hoa Hao Buddhism, a religious group often suppressed by the government, and the co-author of several Hoa Hao Buddhist religious instruction texts and books. He was charged with violating Article 258 of the penal code for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state,” a vague crime that could result in a sentence of up to seven years.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Suffers from old age; high blood pressure and does not have access to medication. His family is not permitted to send medication.

16. Nguyen Van Ly                                                  
·         DOB: 1946
·         Years Sentenced: 8 years imprisonment; 5 years house-arrest
·         Location: Nam Ha Prison, Ha Nam Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (§88 VCC)
·         Details: Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly  is a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest and dissident involved in many pro-democracy movements for which he was imprisoned for a total of almost 15 years. For his ongoing imprisonment and continuous non-violent protest, Amnesty International adopted Father Lý in December 1983 as a prisoner of conscience. Most recently, his support for the Bloc 8406 manifesto has led to his sentence on 30 March 2007, for an additional eight years in prison.

17. Nguyen Van Minh                                                         
·         DOB: 1980
·         Years Sentenced: Pending
·         Location: Lap Vo Detention Center, Dong Thap Prison
·         Criminal Charge(s): Resisting persons in the performance of their official duties. (§275 VCC).
·         Details: Nguyen Van Minh is a religious worker of the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church - Original Branch. He was arrested along with Bui Thi Minh Hang on their way to visit Nguyen Bac Truyen. 

18. Pham Minh Vu                                       
·         DOB: 1980
·         Years Sentenced: Pending
·         Location: Dong Nai Prison
·         Criminal Charge(s): Causing public disorder (§ 245 VCC)
·         Details: Pham Minh Vu is a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy. He has been accused of provoking a violent riot in a Dong Nai Province's industrial park in May 2014 along with Le Thi Phuong Anh and Do Nam Trung.

19. Pham Viet Dao                                       
·         DOB: 1951     
·         Years Sentenced: 15 months imprisonment
·         Location: Hanoi
·         Criminal Charge(s): Abusing democratic freedoms (§258 VCC)
·         Details: Pham Viet Dao is a former Vietnamese Communist Party member and government official. He was convicted under Article 258 of Vietnam’s penal code for allegedly “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the State.”

20. Phan Van Thu                                                    
·         DOB: 1948
·         Years Sentenced: Life imprisonment
·         Location: Unknown
·         Criminal Charge(s): Conducting activities to overthrow the people's government (§79 VCC)
·         Details: Phan Van Thu was arrested on 05 February 2012 in Phu Yen Province. He was allegedly the leader of Public Law Council of Bia Son, which the Vietnamese police newspaper has accused of “conducting activities to overthrow the people's government.”

 

 

21. Ta Phong Tan                                                     
·         DOB: 1968
·         Years Sentenced: 10 years imprisonment; 5 years house-arrest
·         Location: Yen Dinh Prison, Thanh Hoa Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (§88 VCC)
·         Details: Ta Phong Tan is a Vietnamese dissident blogger, a former policewoman and member of the Communist Party of Vietnam. She was arrested in September 2011 under anti-state propaganda charges for her blog posts alleging government corruption.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Under psychological pressure because of civil disobedience within prison.

22. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc                                                               
·         DOB: 1965
·         Years Sentenced: 16 years imprisonment; 5 years house-arrest
·         Location: Xuyen Moc Prinson, Dong Nai Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Conducting activities to overthrow the people's government (§79 VCC)
·         Details: According to the indictment, along with Nguyen Tien Trung, Le Cong Dinh and Le Thang Long, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc had sought to build a multiparty system and written 53 articles, amongst them "The Vietnam’s Roadmap", and posted them on the internet. Thuc was director general of the OCI telecommunication company. Initially at his arrest on 24 May 2009, he had been accused of “theft of telecom fees”. Later the charge was turned to “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (§88 VCC) and finally to subversive activities (§79 VCC). He was tried on 20 January 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City. His sentence was upheld at the appellate trial on 11 May 2010.
·         Compelling Reason for Release: Was forced into solitary confinement as a disciplinary punishment.

23. Tran Vu Anh Binh                                              
·         DOB: 1974     
·         Years Sentenced: 6 years imprisonment; 2 years house-arrest
·         Location: An Phuoc Prison, Binh Duong Province
·         Criminal Charge(s): Tran Vu Anh Binh is a Catholic songwriter and member of the Patriotic Youth Group (PYG) who participated in anti-China demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City. Along with 4 members of PYG, he was arrested on 19 September 2011 in HCM City.

24. Truong Duy Nhat                                   
·         DOB: 1964
·         Years Sentenced: 2 years imprisonment      
·         Location: Hoa Son Prison, Da Nang
·         Criminal Charge(s): Abusing democratic freedoms (§258 VCC)
·         Details: Truong Duy Nhat was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for allegedly "abusing the rights of freedom" in writing his blog "Another Point of View". The charges were based on 12 specific entries on his blog in which he criticized the performances of top government and Party officials, including the General Secretary and the Prime Minister.

25. Vo Minh Tri (Viet Khang)                                                          
·         DOB: 1978
·         Years Sentenced: 4 years imprisonment; 2 years house-arrest
·         Location: Xuan Loc Prison, Binh Duong Province (K2)
·         Criminal Charge(s): Spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (§88 VCC)
·         Details: Vo Minh Tri has composed 2 patriotic songs: “Who are you?” and “Where is my Vietnam?”. He personally performed them and posted them on the internet to support anti-China demonstrations in Vietnam. He was arrested on 23 December 2011 in HCM City.

Total years of imprisonment: 121.25
Total years of house-arrest: 32
Total cases of life imprisonment: 1
Total cases still pending: 8

 

 

Source: danquyenvn.blogspot.dk