Freedom of Expression Recap: April 2015

As April gives way to May, we celebrated World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd) and prepare to celebrate Vietnam Human Rights Day (May 11th). We also remember the one-year anniversary of the death of Dinh Dang Dinh, an environmental activist and blogger who died of stomach cancer on April 3, 2014, only a month after his release from prison.

In April, discussion continued over the role of human rights in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade agreements. This is especially needed as the TPP may move onto a fast track for approval in the US. In regards to the EU’s potential trade agreement with Vietnam, the EU Commission has refused to conduct a human rights assessment, going against the advice of the EU Ombudsperson.

While international protest against the TPP continues, there have been a number of recent instances of public protest in Vietnam over the past month in regards to other topics as well. There was a strike over a new pension law, a citizen protest over the felling of trees in Hanoi, and a protest over pollution as well. These events highlight the power of citizens to speak out for change. The Vietnamese government allows some forms of assembly and protest and not others and recently violated freedom of assembly by forcibly arresting environmental activists on 4/25 in Hanoi.There were also many news stories this month about other issues in Vietnam, including minority rights, wildlife trafficking, and forced labor.

Take a look at the several reports out this month on Vietnam, including “We Will Not Be Silenced,” a report on bloggers and human rights in Vietnam by CR Defenders. Additionally, Press Freedom has placed Vietnam as 6/10 on its list of worst violators of press freedom. Other interesting reports to take a look at are the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Attacks on the Press report and the United States’ Committee on International Religious Freedom’s Report 2015, which deems Vietnam as a country of particular concern.

Finally, it is important to note that April 30th marked the 40th anniversary of Black April, when the Vietnam War ended and reunification began. In honor of this day, Rep Zoe Lofgren and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi created a video that speaks of their recent visit to Vietnam and the importance of human rights there. Additionally, a bipartisan group of representatives introduced a bill that would make certain assistance to Vietnam contingent on respect for human rights.

Updates on Political Prisoners

Me Nam received Civil Rights Defender’s Defender of the year award. Read an interview with her from Radio Free Asia.

Mai Thi Dung has been released after serving 6 and 5 year sentences for her work towards freedom of religion in Vietnam.

Bui Thi Minh Hang has been on hunger strike since April 2nd, protesting her treatment in prison, where other inmates have been encouraged to harass her.

May 24th will mark the sixth year since Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was imprisoned.

Take Action

Support the Press Uncuffed campaign: spread the word, and buy a bracelet to show your solidarity with the imprisoned journalists.

Look at our Take Action page.