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 March 12-18. Nguyen Viet Dung, founder of the Vietnam Republican Party, will face trial on March 28 under Article 88; meanwhile, a year after his arrest, blogger Bui Hieu Vo remains in pre-trial detention. Plainclothes agents assaulted an activist after he tried to intervene to free a friend from detention following a public ceremony. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has profiled the almost 90-year-old human rights and religious freedom activist Thich Quang Do on its website. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture-France has raised concerns about the treatment of Nguyen Trung Ton in prison and is calling for his immediate release, and the UK raised its concerns about Vietnam as well at the 37th UN Human Rights Council. Australia will follow suit as its top leader meets with ASEAN leaders this week. Check out the featured profiles of female political prisoners in Vietnam in honor of Women’s History Month, and please take action to release a prisoner facing the death penalty despite judicial errors in his case.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Protesters take aim at Asean leaders in Sydney: “Thousands demonstrated in the city against a raft of grievances on the sidelines of the Asean-Australia Special Summit, where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to tackle human rights issues. They came together to urge the release of political prisoners in Vietnam, an end to strongman Hun Sen’s regime in Cambodia, and a halt to the military crackdown on Rohingya in Myanmar. ‘We are here to protest issues that are happening in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Rohingya – you name it, we are here to send a clear voice to these governments that you do not mistreat human rights,’ Vietnamese-Australian protester Davy Nguyen said.”
Southeast Asia Seeks New Partners in the Era of “America First”: “Hanoi has reached out to South Korea and Australia to play a larger role in the South China Sea, although the two have not necessarily been responsive, and has pushed to upgrade its strategic ties with Japan, which sees Vietnam as a vital, and growing, partner in Southeast Asia. Vietnam also enjoys historically strong links with Singapore. Most importantly, however, Hanoi is rapidly building a major strategic partnership with India, a country with naval capacities and the desire to play a prominent role in the South China Sea, no matter what reaction India’s decisions provoke from Beijing, which stands it apart from other regional powers like Australia.”
Background Brief Australia-Vietnam Strategic Partnership: Why Now?, Carlyle A. Thayer: “There are elements of the Vietnamese community in Australia who hold less favourable views towards the Vietnamese government. This community can contribute to bilateral relations by nurturing their cultural heritage in Australia’s multicultural society. They can also use their language skills to inform the broader Australian community about developments in Vietnam. And more specifically, they can communicate their concerns, such as human rights, to their members of parliament and to the federal government. It is clear that the on-going repression of democracy activists and bloggers is an irritant in an otherwise robust relationship.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
March 8 was International Women’s Day. There are currently 15 female political prisoners jailed in Vietnam. Five of them are serving 6+ years in prison. Learn more about the women by searching by “Gender” and “Current Status” in our Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database. Last week, we shared the profiles of three prisoners, Tran Thi Xuan (in pre-trial detention since October 2017), Do Thi Hong (serving a 13-year sentence), Tran Thi Thuy (serving an 8-year sentence). This week, we highlight four more women as Women’s History Month continues: