Freedom of Expression Recap: May 2015

This past month, we celebrated World Press Freedom Day, as well as Vietnam Human Rights Day. Additionally, the US held a dialogue with Vietnam about human rights, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Vietnam. Yet, despite all of this international attention on Vietnam, attacks on activists persisted, demonstrating that the US should not send more weapons to Vietnam. Furthermore, Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Chris Smith wrote an op-ed this month for The Hill stating that Vietnam’s poor human rights should not be rewarded with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Last month, bipartisan representatives introduced a bill, the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2015, that would make certain assistance to Vietnam contingent on respect for human rights. Follow the progress of the bill, here.

Updates on Political Prisoners

Blogger Truong Duy Nhat is now free from prison. He was sentenced to two years last year under Article 258.

Kim Quoc Hoa, former editor of a newspaper, was charged under Article 258 for his work revealing corruption in one-party Vietnam. He faces a maximum of seven years in prison.

Prisoner of conscience Pham Thi Loc, arrested 2011, was released from prison, and reported back on the poor health of her cellmates, Ta Phong Tan, Can Thi Theu, and Nguyen Dang Minh Man.

Le Thi Phuong Anh, activist arrested under Article 258, was released after spending one year in prison.

May 24th marked six years since the arrest of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, businessman and activist. Individuals and NGOs alike called for his release and denounced his 16-year sentence.

On June 3rd, Ta Phong Tan’s sister became aware of Tan’s third hunger strike in prison. Tan has been on the strike since May 13th, protesting the cruel treatment of prisoners, and is reportedly in poor health.

Take Action

Take action to ask the US Embassy in Vietnam and the US State Department to inquire into Tan’s health condition and press for her release (and the release of all prisoners of conscience) and better treatment for prisoners.

Thank Reps. Lofgren, Smith, and Lowenthal for speaking up for human rights in Vietnam. You can Tweet at them @RepZoeLofgren, @RepChrisSmith, and @Rep Lowenthal. Suggested message: “Thank you for supporting #humanrights in #Vietnam. Please continue to push for release of PoCs!”

Support the Press Uncuffed campaign: spread the word, and buy a bracelet to show your solidarity with the imprisoned journalists. Ta Phong Tan is one of the journalists featured in this campaign.

Look at our Take Action page for more ideas on getting involved.