Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 18/2018 – Week of April 30-May 6
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 April 30-May 6. Retired military officer and pro-democracy activist Tran Anh Kim is in failing health in prison. He is serving a thirteen-year sentence for his peaceful activities. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s letters to her family have been withheld without either of them knowing why and how. On May 3, we remembered young citizen journalist Nguyen Van Hoa and many others imprisoned in Vietnam on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. May 5 marked four years since Nguyen Huu Vinh (Anh Ba Sam)’s arrest. He was held for almost two years without trial and still has another year left in his five-year sentence. In the area of religious freedom, a new report details the widespread abuses against ethnic Montagnard Christians in Vietnam at the hands of the government. In the news, read about Vietnam’s strict Internet controls and the effects of the rise of capitalism in Vietnam. In case you missed it, read our Editor’s interview with DiaCRITICS about the The 88 Project’s history, mission, and view of the human rights situation today. Please take action for Nguyen Van Hoa, calling for his release from prison, and consider donating to one of the campaigns that supports political prisoners, like Le Thu Ha, and their families.
Read the full newsletter, here.
And please subscribe!
HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Behind the lobbyists that drew Trump to Vietnam: “At the same time, Viettel Group has been accused of abetting surveillance of human rights defenders in autocratic nations where it operates. Vietnamese human rights activists who requested anonymity said their communications over Viettel-owned networks have been interfered with and, they alleged, handed over to government agencies. ‘Viettel is precisely the sort of company that raises a red flag when it comes to protecting freedom of expression and media freedom in Southeast Asia,’ said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.”
How money trumped Marx in post-war Vietnam: “Amid this, Hanoi is busy imprisoning critics at a rate not witnessed in decades. The latest estimate suggests there are more than 100 political prisoners, though that number is increasing by the week. Many won’t be released from jail for decades, but this hasn’t perturbed the pro-democracy movement. Activists say it’s sturdier than ever, combative as the government becomes more confrontational. Nguyen Chi Tuyen, a prominent human rights defender who goes by the online name ‘Anh Chi’, says ‘the communists use [Marx’s] philosophy as a tool to control our minds’. But, he adds, anti-party protestors often employ Marxist language to criticise the regime. Labour-rights activists who requested anonymity say they sometimes evoke Marx as a means to promote their cause, arguing the party has forgotten about the working class. Environmental activists maintain that communist leaders now leech onto ruinous capitalists, such as the owners of the Formosa steel plant that, in 2016, spilled tonnes of toxic waste into the coastal waters around central Vietnam. Communities have been left devastated; many won’t recover. Hanoi, at first, came to the defence of the factory’s Taiwanese owners. Only after unprecedented protests did it change tack. ‘Marx would have been on our side, not theirs,’ says one activist who asked not to be named.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Our Editor, Huong Nguyen, was recently interviewed by DiaCRITICS about The 88 Project and its history, as well as the state of human rights in Vietnam today and the case of political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc. Speaking on the current reality of the situation in Vietnam for activists, she says: “As long as Vietnam is still a one-party regime, those advocating for political pluralism will still be harassed and imprisoned and systematic violations of human rights will still occur. And even when there’s political transformation, democratization is not irreversible and human rights protection should be a continuous effort.” Read the full interview, here.
Suffering detention or imprisonment merely on account of one’s political or religious beliefs is a harsh reality for political prisoners and their families. We can show our support by helping families and dependents during what is often a very desperate time. Currently, we have an appeal for support from the family of Le Thu Ha. Ha was sentenced to nine years in prison on April 5 for her peaceful, pro-democracy work. The Conscience Foundation requests 4 million VND/month (approx. US$ 175) for the family to visit Lê Thu Hà and look after Lê Thu Hà’s mother until the time of her release from prison. To donate, or for more information on how you can help the families of political prisoners, see the Support the Families page of our Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database.
Please also take Front Line Defenders’s Urgent Appeal for Nguyen Van Hoa, calling on authorities to immediately release him from prison. Download the pdf appeal, here.
© 2018 The 88 Project