This week, Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary makes a high-profile trip to the United States. At a meeting between Secretary Nguyen Phi Trong and President Obama earlier this week, President Obama mentioned how he’d also like to visit Vietnam. As ties between the two countries apparently continue to soften, the US must keep human rights at the center of discussions.
Human rights abuses persist in Vietnam. In June, a former prisoner of conscience (Pham Thanh Nghien) was assailed by police. Ta Phong Tan ended her hunger strike, but she remains in solitary confinement. Dieu Cay recently spoke of “prisons within prisons” within the Vietnamese system, noting the often downright cruel treatment of political prisoners at the hands of the government (read more on this: https://www.cpj.org/blog/2015/06/dieu-cay-on-solitary-confinement-hunger-strikes-an.php#slideshow). In fact, in its recent report on Vietnam, the US State Department noted several issues in Vietnam, including limited political rights and civil liberties, as well as severe infringement upon freedom of expression and due process rights.
The US House Foreign Affairs Committee recently held a hearing on human rights abuses in Vietnam, at which Dieu Cay spoke. Additionally, several members of Congress have sent a letter to Vietnam’s leadership requesting the release of political prisoners, including Tran Huynh Duy Thuc.
Also in June, writer Le Thanh Tung was released early from his four-year sentence. He had been sentenced under Article 88. Additionally, human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan finished his 30-month sentence for “tax evasion.” He had just recently ended a hunger strike and plans to continue his work for human rights outside of prison, despite being fearful of a potential re-arrest.
Check out our Take Action page for ways that you can get involved.
Support the Press Uncuffed campaign, which features Ta Phong Tan. Buy a bracelet, and support Tan and other imprisoned journalists.
Thank the members of Congress who have urged Vietnam to release it’ls political prisoners. Learn more about how to contact the members of Congress, here.