Greetings from The 88 Project! We are bringing you highlights of the news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the weeks of December 25-31 and January 1-7. Nine people were arrested and sentenced to between three and fourteen years in prison for distributing leaflets. Authorities have ended their investigations into at least six members of the Brotherhood for Democracy, though another man with alleged ties to the group, former prisoner of conscience Vu Hung, was arrested this week. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has deemed Can Thi Theu and Tran Thi Nga’s detentions arbitrary. Luu Van Vinh is struggling from worsening eyesight and death threats in pre-trial detention. Check out the end of the year report from Front Line Defenders about activists at risk, featuring a section on Vietnam, as well as news about Vietnam’s latest cybersecurity moves and freedom of religion. In case you missed it, read our update on Ho Van Hai, whose charges are still unknown more than a year after his arrest. Take action for the Brotherhood for Democracy members who are awaiting trial.
Finally, we are pleased to unveil our latest initiative — a searchable database of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Luu Van Vinh. Source: Vinh Luu Facebook
NEWS & ANALYSIS
The drive to recentralize Vietnam: “A final motivation for the move towards recentralization is that the government thinks social unrest is spiraling out of control. 2017 saw a mass crackdown on government critics and activists, marking a repressive uptick from the level of harassment witnessed in 2016. Significantly, the repression has been orchestrated nationwide, a likely indication the campaign is being directed by central government and not merely by local officials, as was the case in the past.”
Force 47: Vietnam setting up 10,000-strong cyber army to crack down on dissent in internet: “Announcing the latest development of the cyber army, codenamed Force 47, during a conference in Ho Chi Minh city on Monday (25 December), he said, ‘In every hour, minute, and second we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views. ‘Some have questioned if this is a kind of information that should be made public,’ Nghia added. Concerns have been growing in one-party-ruled Vietnam over increasing intolerance over dissent and curbing freedom of speech. This latest step in restricting the social media use inevitably would lead to comparison with neighbouring China, which heavily tracks and streamlines information flows in the cyberspace.”
Vietnamese Catholics Protest Officials’ Interference in Their Parish: “In a Dec. 31 letter sent to top-level authorities in the province, priests at Thien An asserted their legal right to construct buildings on nearby village land owned and managed by the church since the 1940s. They also accused members of the Thua Thien Hue People’s Committee of abusing their power by proposing the transfer to another province of monastery head Father Nguyen Van Duc, who had protested the seizure last year of monastery land. By declaring in a Dec. 23 report to higher-ups that Duc had broken the law, the province’s People’s Committee had offended the dignity of the priest and had illegally interfered in the monastery’s internal affairs, the priests’ letter said.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Please take Amnesty International’s Urgent Action for Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, and Nguyen Trung Ton. They are being held in incommunicado detention and need access to healthcare treatment. You can also take Front Line Defender’s action for Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, and Truong Minh Duc, calling for their immediate release.
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