Greetings from Huong, Ella, and Kaylee from The 88 Project! We are bringing you news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the week of August 21-27. Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha face additional charges, and Luu Van Vinh’s pre-trial detention has been extended into the fall. Followers of prominent political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc launched a petition calling for free elections in Vietnam. Lawyer Vo An Don, who represents Mother Mushroom, has spoken out about a recent notice of Phu Yen province’s Bar Association to discipline him. Uncertainty remains as to the fate of the remaining 36 Montagnard refugees in Cambodia. In the news and analysis, there are reflections on Mai Khoi’s artful activism and the role of economics in pressing for human rights advances. Please take action for Nguyen Bac Truyen, who has been held in incommunicado detention since the end of July.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a blogger and successful entrepreneur, is serving 16 years under Article 88
Followers of political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc have started a petition calling for free elections in Vietnam at http://www.civilrightvn.org/ (keep scrolling down for the English version of the petition). The petition states: “VietNam is going against the development trend of the world. Freedom is restricted, liberal views are discouraged and human rights are disregarded severely. One of the most obvious reasons preventing us from choosing talented persons to lead and to develop the country seriously is the lack of free and fair elections. Therefore, giving Vietnamese people a chance for free elections and self-determination rights will open a new bright era for the country.”
Thuc-Followers is an online community of thousands Vietnamese who agree with and follow Tran Huynh Duy Thuc’s vision for a peaceful political change in Vietnam. Earlier this year, they had already launched two petitions on change.org to “urge VietNam Communist Party as well as the Parliament to hold a referendum for free election and on transformation to a multi-party political regime with the attendance and monitoring of the civil society groups across the nation.”
RELEVANT NEWS & ANALYSIS
Youth Use Social Media to Press Environmental, Social Issues in Authoritarian Vietnam: “With over 30 million users now on Facebook in Vietnam, Vietnamese activists, many of them young adults, easily transformed themselves into reporters by posting pictures of dead fish and videos of police abuse of protesters online. ‘[Young people] are larger in numbers, and they are savvier with social media and computers and iPhones and networking and Facebook,’ San Diego-based Vietnamese Human Rights Network founding member Nguyen Giao told RFA in an interview.”
In Vietnam, Repression Threatens Growth: “Such tactics are also likely to impede investment. Many of Vietnam’s regional rivals for attracting overseas investors — such as Indonesia and the Philippines — are democracies. They have problems of their own, of course. But research has found that democratic institutions can reduce risk for foreign investors, and that Vietnam could increase its FDI significantly by expanding democracy. Further repression, in other words, would be a competitive disadvantage.”
How Vietnamese Pop Star Mai Khoi Found Her Political Voice & Was Silenced By Her Government: “This pop star is on a dangerous, dissident mission, which she lays out to me from the get-go. ‘[I want] to be free to say what I want, sing what I want, wear what I want, go where I want and not having someone looking over me and saying, you can’t do that,’ she says. These are all uncontroversial, garden-variety goals in democratic countries, like the U.S. or France; but in communist Vietnam, there’s nothing routine about them.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Oai was supposed to face trial on Monday, August 21 after seven months of pre-trial detention, but news came that his trial has been postponed. According to a notice from the People’s court of Hoang Mai commune, the court received a motion to postpone the trial from several individuals with related legitimate interests. The court did not provide more details as to the reasons for the motion, what constitutes “related legitimate interests,” or the substantive grounds for granting the motion.
Citizen journalist Phan Kim Khanh’s trial is likely to occur soon, although no exact date has been confirmed. His family has sent another request for legal aid to lawyer Ha Huy Son. It is unsure whether the lawyer will be granted a defense counsel certificate in order to represent Khanh in court, given that the lawyer’s request for such a certificate had previously been denied.
International human rights organizations, governments, and activists’ eyes are on Hanoi as September 2nd approaches. In the past, this day, Vietnam’s Independence Day, has been a day when the government grants amnesty to prisoners. Those granted amnesty are normally in prison for nonpolitical crimes, but some prisoners of conscience have been granted amnesty in the past. Normally, this has been made clear in advance, but this year, with the President out of the public eye, the chances for amnesty are looking weaker than usual.
Please take Amnesty International’s Urgent Action for Nguyen Bac Truyen, whose location has been unknown since he was reported arrested almost one month ago.
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