Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 23/2024 – Week of June 3-9

Greetings from Project88. We bring you news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the week of June 3-9.

State media has confirmed the arrests of writer Truong Huy San and lawyer Tran Dinh Trien. Project88’s Ben Swanton told the AP that San’s arrest “represents an alarming attack on freedom of the press and is the latest in an ongoing crackdown on reformers.”

Luong Tam Quang will be the new head of the Ministry of Public Security. Vietnam’s coal emissions are reaching new levels despite big promises to combat climate change. Rights groups report on alarming revelations from a Samsung whistleblower. And in other news, updates from the wives and mothers of prisoners give a glimpse into the hardships that families face while their loved ones are imprisoned, with hardships often compounded for political prisoners.


Truong Huy San

The arrests of prominent writer Truong Huy San, aka Osin Huy Duc, and attorney Tran Dinh Trien, which Project88 reported last week based on our independent sources, have been confirmed by state media. On June 7, the Ministry of Public Security announced that San and Trien will both be charged with “abusing democratic freedoms” according to Article 331. The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on the government of Vietnam to reveal where the men are being held and to release them unconditionally: “Vietnam must stop treating journalists like criminals and release all members of the press wrongfully held behind bars.” HRW has also called on Vietnam to release Truong Huy San.

Le Trong Hung

Do Le Na, the visually impaired wife of Le Trong Hung, once again made the difficult bi-monthly trip with her child from Hanoi to Prison No. 6 in Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province, to visit him. As she’s done many times before, Na timed the visit to be the last day of May so she could come back the next day and see him again, thus saving her from having to make another trip in June. However, this time, prison officials cut short the time Hung could see his family from one hour (as stipulated by law) to about 45 minutes – on both days. Na said by the time she and her child got back to Hanoi, after four grueling days of traveling using the cheapest modes of transportation she could afford, they were totally spent. The good news is that Hung’s health has been stable except that he was suffering from tonsillitis when she saw him. Nevertheless, Hung was able to give her a half kilogram of fresh okra and a small bouquet of flowers he grew in prison. Hung, a former independent journalist at Chấn hưng Việt Nam TV’ (CHTV), is serving five years in prison under Article 117.

Huynh Duc Thanh Binh

Nguyen Thi Hue, mother of student activist Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, visited him in Xuan Loc Prison on May 21 and reported that Binh is healthy. Binh was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in protests against the proposed cybersecurity and economic zone laws. His father, Huynh Duc Thinh, was also arrested at almost the same time and spent one year in prison. A devout and practicing Buddhist, Hue said the recent events surrounding walking monk Thich Minh Tue have deepened her faith and given her strength to “walk with Binh for the remaining 50 months until we’re reunited again.”

Nguyen Nang Tinh

Maria Nguyen Thi Tinh, the wife of music teacher and Catholic activist Nguyen Nang Tinh, who’s serving an 11-year sentence under Article 117, told Project88 that she’d sent him some supplies to mark the fifth anniversary of his incarceration. She lamented that by the time he gets out, their son will have graduated from high school, all without the presence of his father. Meanwhile, Tinh’s father is reportedly very ill and getting progressively worse.

Dang Dang Phuoc

Le Thi Ha, the wife of music teacher Dang Dang Phuoc, reported that Phuoc still was not permitted to call home in the month of May and is now only allowed one visit every two months instead of every month. After their most recent visit on May 9, when Phuoc tried to hand Ha a piece of paper containing the phone number of a fellow prisoner’s family, he was “disciplined for breaking prison rules” by being put in isolation for 10 days then had his visits reduced, according to an official notice given to Ha signed on May 10, 2024. Ha has sent a letter to the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme Procuracy of Vietnam, the Procuracy of Phu Yen Province, and the head of Xuan Phuoc Prison in Phu Yen demanding to know the reason for this violation of a prisoner’s rights. In the letter, Ha said that if she doesn’t get an explanation from Xuan Phuoc within five days as to why Phuoc is being disciplined she will send a second letter.


EU’s comments on Vietnam’s human rights situation lack objectivity: spokeswoman. VN Express; 2024-06-06. Though the 2023 EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World reflected some achievements and progress Vietnam has made in protecting human rights, it continued to put forth a number of unobjective comments, spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang said Thursday. Such comments were based on inaccurate information and failed to reflect the reality in the country, Hang said while responding to a reporter’s query about the report at the ministry’s press conference.

Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) in Indonesia and Vietnam: Implications for Southeast Asia. ISEAS; 2024-06-04. JETPs emerged during COP26 as a significant multilateral climate financing initiative undertaken by the International Partners Group (IPG) to assist developing countries like South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Senegal in transitioning away from coal. JETP implementation in Vietnam and Indonesia faces challenges such as significant financing gaps, criticisms regarding the attractiveness of financing packages, difficulties in aligning donor and recipient countries’ expectations, the complex political-economic landscape of the coal industry, and concerns over the social impacts of energy transitions.

Vietnam Appoints New Enforcer of Its Anti-Corruption Campaign. Bloomberg; 2024-06-06. Vietnam’s parliament has tapped a new enforcer of its “blazing furnace” campaign against graft — promoting the current deputy of the public security ministry to become its head. Luong Tam Quang, 58, will be the Minister of Public Security, according to a National Assembly statement. He succeeds To Lam, who led the powerful body before rising to become the nation’s no. 2 leader last month.

California lawmaker calls for pressure on Vietnam over detention of unofficial monk. RFA; 2024-06-05. A California lawmaker has called on a U.S. agency monitoring religious freedom to advocate on behalf of a Vietnamese man who went missing after authorities “arbitrarily forced” him to end a Buddhist pilgrimage that had made him an internet sensation for his ascetic way of life. For nearly a month, Le Anh Tu, better known as Thich Minh Tue, had drawn social media influencers who streamed his pilgrimage live, but along the way he also inadvertently became a symbol of what many people say is a lack of religious freedom in Vietnam. On Sunday, officials said Tue stopped his trek after realizing it could threaten social stability, but monks with him said authorities forced them to disband in a midnight raid and took him to an undisclosed location. Tue’s case drew attention from California Congressman Ta Duc Tri who, on Tuesday, sent a letter to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF, to express concern over his well-being.

Putin set to visit North Korea, Vietnam, Vedomosti reports. Reuters; 2024-06-10. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea and Vietnam in the coming weeks, Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper reported on Monday, with an official telling Reuters the Vietnam visit was planned for June 19-20 but has not yet been confirmed.


Internal Samsung documents show electronics sold globally are produced with irresponsible chemicals management and pollution of Vietnam’s environment. IPEN; 2024-06-07. Despite global use of consumer electronics and chemical-intensive manufacturing processes, the harsh realities of electronics manufacturing have largely been hidden from public sight. Now for the first time, an industry insider has stepped forward as a whistleblower, providing internal documents and photos revealing Samsung’s polluting operations, worker health and safety issues, poor management, outsourcing of harm, double standards, and violations of UN human rights principles. The whistleblower’s findings are revealed in an unprecedented, detailed study released today by Supporters for the Health and Rights of Workers in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS) in South Korea, the Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) in Vietnam, and IPEN.

Vietnam tycoon sentenced to death could face new charges, state media says. Al Jazeera; 2024-06-06. A Vietnamese real estate tycoon sentenced to death for her role in the country’s biggest-ever fraud case is facing new charges for crimes including money laundering. Truong My Lan, the head of developer Van Thinh Phat, was found by police to have illegally transferred some $4.5 bn in and out of the country, state media said on Thursday. The Ministry of Public Security recommended that Lan be prosecuted for money laundering, fraudulent appropriation of property, and illegal transport of currency, the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper said.

Vietnam’s coal use and emissions set new records. Reuters; 2024-06-05. Coal use, imports and coal-fired emissions have all climbed to record highs in Vietnam this year despite ongoing efforts to roll out clean generation capacity across the country. The continuing growth in coal dependence in Vietnam highlights the difficulty of dislodging coal from the power systems of fast-growing countries that rely on cheap and abundant energy sources to generate economic competitiveness.

Vietnam intensifies repression of Khmer Krom, activists say. RFA; 2024-06-02. Authorities in southern Vietnam have stepped-up harassment of activists from the ethnic Cambodian Khmer Krom community who are trying to promote the rights of the indigenous people, according to representatives. Nearly 1.3 million Khmer Krom live in the south. They face serious restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, movement and religion, community members say.


Thich Minh Tue, Source; Asia News

Police video of detained Vietnamese ‘monk’ allays fears. RFA; 2024-06-10: Supporters of an unofficial monk who had become an internet hit but then disappeared for a few days after Vietnamese authorities detained him last week breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after police published a video of him receiving a new national ID card. Monday’s video of 43-year-old Le Anh Tu, better known as Thich Minh Tue, allayed concerns after an interview with him Friday on a state-run news program had raised suspicions about his well-being, and that he was speaking under duress.

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