Greetings from The 88 Project! We are bringing you news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the week of March 5-11. This week was focused on women. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we’ve highlighted female-specific features, actions, and statistics in our “In Case You Missed It” and “Take Action” sections. We also have updates on Tran Thi Nga, who was recently transferred to a new prison, and activists Pham Doan Trang and Mai Khoi, who have both faced recent, direct harassment from authorities for their writing and music, respectively. Read about the inspiring backgrounds of Nga, Trang, and Mai Khoi throughout the newsletter. There is also news that Vu Quang Thuan, Tran Hoang Phuc, and Nguyen Van Dien have appealed their January 2018 sentences and that an independent journalist was barred from meeting with UN representatives. Read the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience’s Report on Human Rights Violations in Vietnam in 2017, as well as analysis of US President Trump’s relationship with Vietnam. Please take action for a female political prisoner or activist who inspires you.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Prisoners of Conscience
Tran Thi Nga at her appeal trial on December 22, 2017; Source: Voice of America
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Talkin’ about a reformation in Vietnam: “Trang is actually sanguine about the political awareness of most Vietnamese. She says that in sidewalk cafés people are talking politics every morning: ‘From the latest arrests in the government’s ‘anti-corruption’ campaign and new faces in public offices, to new regulations to control the internet,’ she says. But the problem, she says, is that people aren’t aware they can get involved in politics, like speaking out in public, instead of just confining themselves to ‘talking politics for fun in sidewalk cafes.’ Indeed, raising political awareness and increasing participation in political events, like protests and demonstrations, is one of the main objectives of the pro-democracy movement.”
Vietnam’s aged communists ruling on borrowed time: “But the ageing communists, which unified the once-split nation upon winning the Vietnam War in 1975, are clearly teetering on an existential precipice. The Party’s legitimacy is increasingly being called into question over widespread corruption and widening economic inequality, as well as a shortage of funds to sustain recent fast growth. Meanwhile, the more youthful pro-democracy movement is growing stronger, despite the Party’s best efforts to stifle its voice. It thus makes sense that the Party’s geriatric leaders would want to close ranks, lest someone from within bids for power on the notion old ways aren’t working anymore.”
Loving Vietnam, Criticizing Cambodia: Trump’s Double Standard in Southeast Asia: “As Trump was being welcomed in Vietnam, his wife, Melania Trump, was visiting China. Was it because the zoos in Beijing were so attractive to her? Absolutely not. In March, the First Lady had awarded the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award to a group of women, including to Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as ‘Me Nam’ (Mother Mushroom), one of Vietnam’s most prominent activists. At the time, Mother Mushroom was in jail, having been sentenced to 10 years for allegedly publishing anti-state propaganda. Her 10-year-old daughter called on Melania for help ahead of the president’s visit to Vietnam. So, Melania went to China instead of Vietnam.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Front Line Defenders’s podcast, Rights on the Line, featured the stories of eight female human rights defenders this week in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8. The podcast featured interviews with activists from all parts of the world, including Hannah Vu, an environmental activist who is from Vietnam.
Tran Thi Xuan (in pre-trial detention since October 2017), Do Thi Hong (serving 13 year sentence), Tran Thi Thuy (serving 8 year sentence)
There are currently 15 female political prisoners jailed in Vietnam. Five of them are serving 6+ years in prison. Their areas of activism range from the environment to land rights to religious rights. Several have been transferred to prisons far away from their home provinces. Many have young children. All have been targeted for their peaceful expression and suffer from the compounding realities of being both dissidents and females in prison. Learn more about the women by searching by “Gender” and “Current Status” in our Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database and read our analysis on the lack of access to sanitary pads and other hygiene items for these women.
Please take immediate action for Pham Doan Trang to protect her from being arrested by raising concerns with the Vietnamese governments about her arbitrary temporary detention and by sharing the information about her situation.
Send a message of solidarity to Tran Thi Nga through Front Line Defenders. Click on the icon below her photo, here.
Tweet in support of dissident artist Mai Khoi with PEN International.