Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 14/2024 – Week of March 31-April 6

Greetings from Project88. We bring you news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the week of March 31-April 6.

“Describing meetings with Western diplomats and EU officials since his organization published Directive 24 – the existence of which has been repeatedly reference by top Vietnamese leaders, and in state media and government documents – Mr. Swanton said ‘the tenor of the conversation seems to be this is really bad, things are getting worse, but there’s nothing we can do about it.’”

– Read more about challenges with existing efforts to engage Vietnam in human rights reform in “How Vietnam’s crackdowns on dissent clash with pledges of reform and trade.”

Nguyen Chi Tuyen (Anh Chi) was arrested on Feb. 29, 2024

“[The Communist Party] have all the power in their hands. They have prisons, they have guns, policemen, army force, the court: they have everything. They have media. We have nothing except our hearts, and our minds. And we think it’s the right thing to do … that’s all.”

 — Nguyen Chi Tuyen, acclaimed activist currently being held incommunicado as he awaits trial. He has not been able to contact his family in more than a month.


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Prominent activist Nguyen Chi Tuyen, aka Anh Chi, has not been able to contact his family for more than a month. They can only send him supplies twice a month per regulations and are concerned about his wellbeing. Tuyen was arrested on Feb. 29 for conducting “anti-state propaganda” and is being held in pre-trial detention. For more about his lengthy activism career, check out his database profile and this feature in the Mekong Review.

Nguyen Thi Tam

Nguyen Thi Tam, a land rights activist serving a 6-year sentence for posting information about the Dong Tam police raid, has been denied traditional medicine to treat her uterine fibroids, according to RFA. Project88 corroborated this allegation with Tam’s daughter, Nguyen Thi Mai. She reported that a recent phone call with her mother was cut after only five minutes by a female guard named Hoang Thi Anh Hong after Tam started to describe the ill-treatment she was receiving at Thanh Hoa’s Prison No.5. This was the second time guard Anh Hong cut short Tam’s conversation.

Dang Dang Phuoc

Le Thi Ha, the wife of Dang Dang Phuoc, told Project88 that she received a decision by the head of Daklak’s School of Pedagogy to “discipline” the music teacher because he’s convicted of “anti-state propaganda” and is serving an 8-year prison sentence. On the same day that decision was signed (12/21/2023), another decision by the Bureau of Education and Training of Dak Lak was also issued to fire him; however, Le Thi Ha said she only received the latter a few days ago. She added that Phuoc had been receiving only half of his salary between the time he was arrested (Sep. 2022) to Dec. 2023; after Jan. 2024, everything was terminated. On March 25, Ha also received a notification that Phuoc’s electronic devices and data related to the case will be destroyed, and the rest will be returned to her.

Nguyen Trung Ton

Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, who is serving a 12-year sentence for violating Article 79 of the 1999 Criminal Code, is said to be in good health and spirits, according to his wife Nguyen Thi Lanh, who visited him at Gia Trung Prison on April 1.


On the Convictions of Vietnamese Ethnic Minority and Religious Freedom Advocates. US Department of State; 2024-04-01. According to Matthew Miller, Spokesperson for the State Department, ‘The United States is deeply concerned by ongoing convictions of Vietnamese ethnic minority and religious freedom advocates, including five convictions since January 2024. We are particularly troubled by the recent 13-year sentence of Y Krec Bya, who has been a peaceful voice for freedom of religion or belief in Vietnam. We also continue to be concerned by the multi-year prison terms of Nay Y Blang, Danh Minh Quang, Thach Cuong, and To Hoang Chuong for their peaceful advocacy on behalf of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, in Vietnam. We call upon Vietnam to respect the rights of individuals to exercise freedoms of expression, association, and religion or belief. We reiterate our call on Vietnam to release all those unjustly detained.’

Vietnam assumes Chairmanship of Asia Pacific Group at UN. Vietnamnet; 2024-03-30. Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Vietnam’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), has assumed the Chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) at the UN for April.The handover ceremony took place at the group’s regular meeting on March 28. As chair of the 53-member regional group, Vietnam will be responsible for providing information and coordinating the APG’s candidacies for positions at the UN. At the same time, Vietnam will preside over the settlement of arising issues or disagreements between countries in the group. It will also represent and express the group’s common stance at several UN meetings. Speaking at the event, Ambassador Giang affirmed that Vietnam will cooperate closely with members of the group and strive to fulfill its work well.

Vietnam-Slovakia ties to improve, thanks to new Slovak PM. DW; 2024-04-05. Robert Fico, who returned as Slovakia’s prime minister last October, has vowed to reorient his country’s foreign policy and improve ties with communist nations like Vietnam. Relations between Vietnam and Slovakia have historically been close, dating back to the latter’s communist era. Ethnic Vietnamese are one of the largest minority groups in Slovakia today, and in June 2023, under a different government, Bratislava officially recognized the Vietnamese community as an ethnic minority group in the country. During his first stint as prime minister, Fico opened the Slovak embassy in Hanoi in 2008. But relations have been strained since 2017 when a former head of a state-run Vietnamese firm was kidnapped by Vietnamese secret service agents from the streets of Berlin.


In Vietnamese: 

Vietnamese victims of human trafficking in Southeast Asia –  Nạn nhân Việt Nam trong hoạt động buôn người ở Đông Nam Á, BBC Vietnamese; 2024-03-30

Vietnam demolishes a lecture hall linked to Khmer Krom pagoda. RFA; 2024-04-01. A week after arresting its abbot, Vietnamese authorities on Monday demolished a lecture hall linked to a Buddhist pagoda serving the Khmer Krom indigenous people in southern Vietnam, claiming it was built illegally in 2020.

Environmental Defenders in the Lower Mekong Region Face Increasing Dangers. Nonprofit Quarterly; 2024-04-04. For several years, Hoàng, an IT professional from Đà Nẵng, a central city in Vietnam, worked on youth-oriented projects to promote environmental protection in his community. He received both financial and technical support from a well-known nonprofit organization based in Ho Chi Minh City to implement the projects. Yet the support ended in 2023, as the organization suddenly closed. The cause of closure remains unknown. Across Vietnam—and the larger region—stories such as this are becoming more common. Climate justice activists and nonprofit organizations have become targets of their increasingly authoritarian governments, commonly facing challenges including top-down surveillance of and violations against environmental defenders, closure of nongovernmental organizations, weaponization of domestic laws, and transnational repression of exiled activists.

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