On October 16th, we joined forces with bloggers and activists world-wide to raise awareness for this year’s Blog Action Day topic: inequality. We explored the unequal application of human rights, especially in regards to the unequal situations of freedom of expression throughout the world. To read the blog, click here.
Le Van Tinh, who was released from prison in late September, after serving 18 years out of a 20-year sentence, recently spoke with Radio Free Asia. He described to them his inhumane treatment in prison that was amplified by his assertion of innocence throughout his sentence. The former lawmaker spent years in solitary confinement. Thankfully, he can now spend time resting with friends and family.
On October 21st, writer Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, was released from prison, and he is now in the United States. He had been detained since 2008 and was sentenced in 2012 to 12-years for “anti-state propaganda.” Though his release is wonderful news, we are saddened to know that he has been forced into exile from his home and that hundreds of other activists remain in prison, under constant surveillance, or in exile or under threat from further government action against them (for example, Cu Huy Ha Vu’s home was targeted for demolition by the government as a response to him speaking out against it). The 88 Project will continue to work for just treatment of all Vietnamese activists– those who are in prison or otherwise. Though many may look on Dieu Cay’s release as a sign of growing human rights recognition in Vietnam, it must instead be analyzed as concession to international pressure that was undoubtedly politically-motivated (and that resulted in the exile of Dieu Cay from his homeland). Simply put, we welcome the release of Dieu Cay whole-heartedly, but Vietnam still has a long way to go.
One of the main changes that Vietnam needs to implement is repealing laws such as Article 88, Article 258, Article 79, and others, which are used to prosecute the majority of dissidents in Vietnam. Reforming Vietnam’s Penal Code was the subject of a recent meeting between the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Vietnamese officials, and other organization representatives. The UNDP urges Vietnam to reform the Code in a way that will make it compliant with international treaties to which it is party (this includes paving the way for improved human rights measures), as well in a way that will allow it to adopt more of the recommendations given by the UN Human Rights Committee’s Universal Periodic Review. In addition, Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, visited Vietnam earlier this week to facilitate dialogue about human rights.
Lastly, in the midst of the continued controversy over the US’s partial lifting of the ban on weapons sales to Vietnam, four US Senators sent a letter to President Obama this week, asking him to reconsider lifting the ban and consider the importance of measuring real human rights progress in Vietnam.
Take action with Front Line Defenders for activist Dang Xuan Dieu. He has been repeatedly dehumanized in prison, subject to beatings and deplorable living conditions, and is not allowed to see his family. Take action, here!
You can also sign Reporters Without Borders’s petition to free the remaining Vietnamese bloggers (this petition, however, does not account for the countless other activists imprisoned in Vietnam who are not considered bloggers).
November 29th is imprisoned activist Tran Huynh Duy Thuc’s birthday. Read about him, here. We are planning month-long campaign for Thuc’s release. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.
We are also preparing to release our timeline of events in the struggle for freedom of expression in Vietnam. This tool is a compilation of significant arrests, trials, releases, and political and civil society actions over the past forty years. The goal of the timeline is to provide a variety of historical knowledge for our readers in one easy-to-access location. Please let us know if there’s anything particular you’d like to see on the timeline or if you have any events to submit. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more about the stories from their original sources, follow the links within the text (underlined).
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