It’s the 21st century. We who live in free societies often take for granted our democratic freedoms. Some of us don’t even know that in many countries in the world people still continue to struggle for their basic civic rights.
In the Socialist Republic of Vietnam there are hundreds of prisoners of conscience who have been detained only because their political opinions are different from the dominant ideology of the regime. The one-party state continues to deprive its citizens of their human freedoms, introducing rigid laws and employing capital punishment.
The 88 Project aims to support freedom of expression and peaceful political dissidence in Vietnam. It takes its name from one of the repressive provisions of Vietnam’s criminal code that are routinely used to persecute innocent people. Article 88 makes it a crime to “propagate” against the Socialist Republic with imprisonment sentences ranging from three to twenty years.
There are many other articles that have been employed to imprison hundreds of peaceful activists in Vietnam. Under article 79 of the criminal code, those who form or join organizations “with intent to overthrow the people’s government” even face capital punishment. Reporters without Borders also noted the government’s systematic use of conspiracy theories and article 79 to arrest dissidents.
Article 87 is one of a whole chapter of “national security” provisions in the Vietnamese criminal code. It is often used against minorities, especially those engaged in peaceful demonstrations. The Vietnamese regime was many times pressed to revise the provision which criminalize the legitimate exercise of human rights.
The number “88″, expressed in the project’s logo as two handcuffs, became a symbol of all Vietnamese repressive laws and provisions. The initial idea of the logo comes from the movie poster for “88 – The Repression Of Cyber Dissidents”, designed by Ela Gancarz and Huong Nguyen.
In addition to sharing information about peaceful activism, the 88 Project supports digital media productions promoting freedom of expression and sensitivity to civil rights issues. By telling the stories of Vietnamese citizens, the initiative seeks to raise international awareness of the inhumanity and injustice.