Featured Image: Imprisoned Hoa Hao Buddhist Nguyen Tan An
Greetings from The 88 Project! We are bringing you news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the week of December 17-23. As 2018 comes to an end, please check out our recap of Vietnam’s continued crackdown on dissent this year. 2018 saw an increase over 2017 in the number of activists arrested and tried, as well as the length of prison sentences activists received. As of December 22, 2018, there are 210 political prisoners currently serving sentences in Vietnam and another 19 still awaiting trial. We recognize that 2018 was one of the worst years for human rights in Vietnam in recent times.
This week, after months of being denied visits, Tran Thi Nga’s family was finally able to meet with her in prison. Luu Van Vinh’s wife also visited him in prison recently and reported back that his appeal of his sentence is still pending. This week, we remember five Hoa Hao Buddhists who were jailed one year ago for hanging flags of the former government of South Vietnam, as well as Nhi and Y Drim Nie, two ethnic Montagnard Christians arrested in December 2008 and 2012, respectively. The Vietnamese government shut down an NGO workshop this week, citing a sixty-year-old decree. Human Rights Watch condemned the Law on Cybersecurity, which takes effect on January 1. And domestic and international groups and individuals sent a petition to the Vietnamese government this week calling for reform. The Vietnamese also reported that Vietnam sentenced more people to death in 2018 than 2017. In the news, read about the brewing, widespread dissent among Vietnamese citizens and a recap of the political events in 2018.
Please consider supporting political prisoners and their families by making a donation to the Doan Ket Fund this holiday season!
This is our last newsletter of 2018; we will return on January 6, 2019. Happy holidays!
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
This week, we remember five Hoa Hao Buddhists who were sentenced to a total of 19 years in prison on December 21, 2017 for hanging flags of the former government of South Vietnam and for online postings. The Hoa Hao Buddhist religion is heavily restricted in Vietnam. The activists are: Nguyen Tan An (sentenced to 5 years), Huynh Thi Kim Quyen (4 years), Nguyen Ngoc Qui (4 years), Pham Van Trong (3 years), and Nguyen Thanh Binh (3 years).We also remember ethnic Montagnard Christians Nhi, also known as Bă Tiêm, and Y Drim Nie, who were arrested in December 2008 and 2012, respectively. Nhi protested against the local government’s suppression of religious freedom. He was tried and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment under Article 87 (undermining the unity policy) of the 1999 Penal Code. He is due for release from prison this month. Y Drim Nie is a Protestant missionary who was arrested because he preached the gospel in his village. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Human Rights Watch released a statement this week condemning Vietnam’s Law on Cybersecurity, which is scheduled to go into effect in January, saying: “The cyber security law and draft decree’s data retention, localization, and surveillance provisions would facilitate greater access to user data by abusive security bureaus and law enforcement authorities, without adequate safeguards for privacy, fair trial rights, and other rights.” The law requires Internet service providers to store data — including identification numbers, health information, and contact information — on servers in Vietnam and to turn over data to authorities without court documents. Human Rights Watch urges Vietnam to revise the law, heeding obligations under international law.
Concerned groups and individuals in Vietnam and abroad sent Vietnamese leaders a petition this week, called “An Eight-Point Demand for 2019.” In it, they called for reform to the one-party state, including releasing political prisoners, protections for free press and association, and a reformed legal system and elections.
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Sons of Revolution: Vietnam’s New Protest Movement: “Bui Tin was not alone in this sentiment. Many today inside Vietnam still cherish the revolutionary ideals of the nation’s founding father, Ho Chi Minh, inspired more by a deep-seated nationalism rather than any allegiance to communism. Former advisor to the minister of planning and investment (2001 – 2006) Le Dang Doanh, a VCP member, was among the many intellectuals who signed a petition to the National Assembly, urging a postponement of the special economic zones law. In the past, dissident groups calling for human rights and multiparty democracy, backed by Vietnamese exile communities in the United States and France, had only marginal impact on the general public. This new genre of mass protest, which is capturing the imagination of a wider public, can be traced back to a 2007 campaign launched against a controversial Chinese investment in a bauxite mine in the Central Highlands.”
Industry warning on new cyber security law: “The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), a regional industry association representing most of the world’s top tech companies, expressed concern in a representation to the minister of public security. It said the provisions would stifle investment and growth and damage all companies in Vietnam with an online presence. Google is said by Vietnamese officials to be preparing to open an office in compliance with the new law, but there’s been no confirmation from the company or other tech giants. The Vietnamese government says it is moving to suppress what it sees as toxic comment on the internet, a term that encompasses any criticism of the Communist party and its policies.”
Above, left: Le Dinh Luong, right, clockwise from top: Nguyen Hoang Nam, Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Van Hoa, Bui Van Trung. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Huynh Thuc Vy
As we approach the end of another difficult year for political prisoners and activists in Vietnam, consider contributing to the Doan Ket Fund, a fund established by the NOW! Campaign to support political prisoners in Vietnam. “Doan Ket” is Vietnamese for “solidarity.” All donations go directly and entirely to political prisoners and their families or to individuals identified by the NOW! Campaign as at risk of arrest, detention, and imprisonment.
© 2018 The 88 Project