Featured Image: Imprisoned freelance journalist Nguyen Van Hoa. Artwork created by Liset Celie Illustrations for The 88 Project.
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 November 12-18. After being transferred to a new facility 300 km from his family’s home, Nguyen Van Tuc remains in poor health in prison. Political prisoner Nguyen Van Duc Do was badly beaten at the Chi Hoa Detention Center and had to be treated in the prison’s medical ward. Imprisoned blogger Phan Kim Khanh is in good spirits in prison but has been struggling to get prison authorities to permit him to receive a Bible and books. A year after his trial, we remember 23-year-old Nguyen Van Hoa, a freelance journalist, who has also faced difficult conditions in jail. And we are thinking of Hoa Hao Buddhist Le Thi Hong Hanh, arrested November 2017, who is one of 26 female political prisoners currently behind bars in Vietnam. This week, we also have an update on female journalist Thu Le after her being taken into custody on November 9, and news on police responses to two separate cases of community land confiscations. In international advocacy, read a letter of concern by experts on Vietnam in response to the accusation against professor Chu Hao and his publishing house, as well as a motion for a resolution from the European Parliament in regard to Vietnam’s political prisoners. A month after being freed from her 10-year sentence and sent into exile in the US, blogger Mother Mushroom continues speaking out for human rights in Vietnam — now from Washington D.C. In the news, read reflections from two high-profile female Vietnamese activists on the government’s crackdown on dissent, as well as an interview with Mother Mushroom, and an analysis of Vietnam’s use of torture. Coming up on November 22, Huynh Thuc Vy will face trial in Buon Ho commune, Dak Lak province, under Article 276 of the 1999 Penal Code for “offending the national flag.” Please take action for Tran Thi Nga, a land and labor rights activist who is serving a nine-year sentence. She, like Mother Mushroom, has two young children and has been active in advocacy for many years.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Nguyen Van Hoa was the first to broadcast live footage of protests outside Formosa’s steel plant in Ha Tinh Province. Being from the affected area himself, the talented young journalist made it his mission to assist families in demanding compensation and justice after the toxic waste spill. However, he was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison in a secret trial on November 27, 2017. In October, Hoa sent a letter to his family on detailing systemic abuse by multiple parties during his investigation and time serving the sentence in prison. We remember him on the first anniversary of his trial.
In a letter sent to the authorities, Thu Le reported about the harassment and asked for an investigation into Tuan for detaining and beating her, as well as causing damage to her property. She also requested to be compensated and for Tuan to apologize to her publicly.
On November 15, plainclothes police attacked protesters in Hanoi and arrested them while they were demonstrating against illegal land confiscation. The police forced them in a car and beat them. One victim had to be hospitalized. The group was protesting a project that would evict them from their townhouses to build a parking lot.
Police also detained at least ten people in Da Nang this week as a force of 500 came to evict them from their homes to continue with a contested development project. The ten had protested with their community against the land confiscation, saying they were not adequately compensated for the land they use to live and grow rice on. The detentions are the latest in a long string of confrontations between residents and authorities over the eco-tourism project, which began in 2008. The affected community is largely Catholic.
The European Parliament filed a motion for a resolution on the situation in Vietnam, specifically with regards to political prisoners. Our database was cited and used for up-to-date information about the numbers of prisoners. The resolution calls for EU Member States to press Vietnam further to improve its human rights situation ahead of Vietnam’s Universal Periodic Review in January 2019 and calls human rights a “cornerstone of the bilateral relations between Vietnam and the Union, notably in view of the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and in view of the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).”
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Vietnamese singer Mai Khoi, voice of dissent: “Despite the crackdowns on political protests, including the protest over 99-year special economic zones in June and citizens now being ‘a little bit scared,’ Mai said political protests would continue, but in ‘small groups,’ although adding that organizing training courses in human rights or on the environment are ‘most dangerous’ and ‘under censor.’ She added that protests were increasingly being organized by word-of-mouth, and not on Facebook given the deletion of fake names used by some activists in Vietnam. As a proud Vietnamese, it is clear Mai Khoi fears for the future of Vietnam, as an increasingly authoritarian model of governance takes hold in Hanoi with echoes of that other Communist regime across the border.”
Vietnamese Blogger Mother Mushroom Tells Activists ‘You Are Not Alone’: VOA: Do you have anything else to share with other blogger-activists? Quynh: “We are not alone, because freedom is something that all of us, each and everyone of us, aspires to. Because of that common factor, because we all dream of the same dream, we are not alone and so if you can just overcome the personal fear of yours, you will find many, many other supporters out there. The minute that you speak out, thousands of other voices will join you. That is what we will draw our strength and force from.”
Vietnam defends itself on torture: “Lt-Gen Vuong maintained that steps had been taken to improve the legal framework and to punish those found responsible for torture and other abuses of those in police custody. Critics say that despite some fluctuations the number of suspects who die after interrogation has remained more or less consistent, and that the police continue to attribute most such deaths to suicide. Meanwhile, some fifty bloggers and other political campaigners have been imprisoned this year, with many complaining of poor treatment and sometimes physical assault after their detention. Human rights groups say that the police regularly employ plainclothes proxies to carry out violent attacks on government critics, with some activities sustaining severe injuries as a result.”
Huynh Thuc Vy with the flag in question
On November 22, Huynh Thuc Vy will be tried by the People’s Court of Buon Ho commune, Dak Lak Province, under Article 276 of the 1999 Penal Code for “offending the national flag.” She faces up to three years in prison. On November 2, 2018, the same court issued an order banning Huynh Thuc Vy from leaving her residence. She was put under supervision from November 6 to December 1, 2018. Vy is blogger and co-founder of Vietnamese Women for Human Rights.
Please take action with Amnesty International for Tran Thi Nga, an imprisoned labor rights activist. She has been facing harsh conditions in prison, including death threats from her cellmate. Send a message demanding that Vietnam protect Nga from ill treatment, release her from prison immediately, and investigate the allegations against her cellmate.
© 2018 The 88 Project