These past few weeks have brought countless surprises, joys, and losses alike for the Vietnamese activist community and its friends.
On March 21st, Dinh Dang Dinh and Nguyen Huu Cau were released from prison. Unfortunately, Dinh Dang Dinh, who was battling stomach cancer, died on April 3rd at age 50. Nguyen Huu Cau, 68, also severely ill, was released after serving three decades.
Activist Cu Huy Ha Vu was also released early from prison, on April 5th. He and his wife arrived in the US on April 7th. He was originally sentenced to serve seven years but was released after serving about three and a half years; he suffers from heart problems.
Most recently, in another astonishing act, activists Nguyen Tien Trung and Vu Duc Ho were also released early. The two had spent five years behind bars and now face three years of probation each.
These releases are to be celebrated and are evidence that our cooperative international actions can make a difference. We lift up the legacy of Dinh Dang Dinh and rejoice in the new freedom for these released activists. However, much work continues to mark our path ahead. We support all of those imprisoned, harassed, persecuted, or otherwise affected by the human rights violations in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, persecution abounds for religious and land rights leaders, as well as democracy activists. On March 26th, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom made a statement on Twitter saying,
Obstacles to land, religious, democratic, and human rights lie in the power that the government and authorities in Vietnam hold. Vietnamese authorities may have even forced activists to falsify statements about a fellow activist.
Additionally, banned social media sites continued to worry international governments and organizations alike, both in Vietnam and elsewhere. This infographic highlights which countries have banned which social media sites.
First of all, whatever you’ve been doing to raise awareness about human rights abuses in Vietnam, keep it coming! These early releases are a sign that someone’s listening.
PEN America has provided background information, addresses, and examples for writing letters to the Vietnamese government. One specific case they are focused on is that of Father Nguyen Van Ly, a 67-year-old Catholic priest and writer who is serving an eight-year sentence and also faces serious health issues. PEN International is also continuing to take action for Le Quoc Quan through its letter writing campaign.
Additionally, FIDH has published 17 profiles of imprisoned activists that you can learn about and share with your community. Hundreds remain in prison or under threat or surveillance in Vietnam today.
To read more about these stories from their original sources, follow the links within the text.