Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 27/2018 – Week of July 2-8
Above: Journalist Le Anh Hung, Source: Vietnam Right Now
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 July 2-8. Imprisoned blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is on a hunger strike to protest authorities’ denial of her request to transfer cells; she fears remaining in a cell with a prisoner who continues to verbally attack her. A documentary screening centered on Quynh’s family was cancelled in Thailand this week after a request from the Vietnamese government. Journalist Le Anh Hung was arrested on July 5 in Hanoi for posting a letter critical of the government; he is charged with “abusing democratic freedoms.” Political prisoners Hoang Duc Binh and Truong Minh Duc have been transferred to remote prisons without notice. This week, we remember female political prisoner Ngo Thi Minh Uoc, a land rights activist from the Mekong Delta, who is currently serving four years and three months in prison. Attacks have continued against labor activist Do Thi Minh Hanh, and police have not investigated the incidents. In Hanoi, a former village chief self-immolated in protest of his three-year sentence for “abusing official position,” which he says was decided without evidence against him; he is in critical condition. In the news, read about Vietnamese Facebookers’ move to social media platform Minds, as well as an English version of an interview with Minds’s CEO. Coming up on July 10, National Movement to Revive Vietnam members Nguyen Van Dien, Vu Quang Thuan, and Tran Hoang Phuc face their appeal trial. Also, stay tuned for the launch of our new crowdfunding campaign that will raise money to produce video interviews with female activists at risk! Please take action for environmental activist Hoang Duc Binh after his recent prison transfer.
As we announced last week, The 88 Project is hiring a Vietnam Human Rights Research Officer. This is an Asia-based/remote position. Read more, here, or in the Take Action section below. The application deadline is July 15.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Imprisoned blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Mother Mushroom) is once again on a hunger strike, protesting prison conditions. June 29 marked one year since she was sentenced to ten years in prison under Article 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code. She is currently enduring extremely difficult conditions in prison, described as “mental torture,” enduring near-constant berating from a cellmate. She fears for her life, and prison authorities have denied her requests to meet with them.
A screening of a documentary in Thailand about Quynh’s family was cancelled this week after local authorities received a request from the Vietnamese embassy to cancel the event. The film, titled “When Mother’s Away,” focuses in part on the struggles of Quynh’s family.
Journalist Le Anh Hung, Source: Vietnam Right Now
NEWS & ANALYSIS
MINDS’ CEO: Protect Free Speech, Will Only Respond to U.S Subpoenas (English translation of interview of Minds CEO Bill Ottman from Luat Khoa magazine): “What is Minds’ policy toward the balance between privacy rights and ‘public security’ as the police in authoritarian societies put it? Public security is an Orwellian phrase similar to National Security. More privacy and encryption make a nation more secure, not less. More freedom of expression causes a healthy society, not less. Disinformation and propaganda are problems, but research shows that censorship makes these problems even worse. I recently wrote an article about this evidence. This has been proven by top cryptologists and cyber-security experts for a long time like Bruce Schneier and EFF.”
Fate of Jailed American Hangs Over Pompeo’s Visit to Vietnam: “The fate of an American arrested almost a month ago during a rare protest in Vietnam is likely to be raised by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he touches down Sunday in Hanoi to meet leaders of the communist government. Houston native William Nguyen was detained June 10 during a Ho Chi Minh City protest against proposed special economic zones that Vietnamese fear will lead to Chinese encroachment and cybersecurity legislation they believe will curb online freedoms.”
Left to right: Nguyen Van Dien, Vu Quang Thuan, and Tran Hoang Phuc
Three members of the National Movement to Revive Vietnam will face their appeal trial on July 10. Nguyen Van Dien, Vu Quang Thuan, and Tran Hoang Phuc were sentenced to six and a half, eight and a half, and six years in prison, respectively, in January 2018 under Article 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code. According to the indictment, Thuan and Dien were accused of posting 17 video clips on the Internet and possessing materials with anti-socialist state content; Phuc was accused of helping them in storing the materials and posting 3 of the 17 clips. Both Dien and Phuc are in poor health in prison, with Dien suffering from stomach issues and Phuc suffering from hepatitis C. Phuc’s mother has requested to attend the appeal trial, which is touted as being open to the public.
Stay tuned this week for the official launch of our new crowdfunding campaign! The campaign aims to raise funds to produce video interviews with female activists at risk and former political prisoners. Follow us on Twitter @The88Project for the latest updates.
Please take Amnesty International’s Urgent Action for Hoang Duc Binh, a labor and environmental activist who was sentenced to fourteen years in prison on February 6, 2018. His appeal of his sentence was denied on April 24, and he was recently transferred to a new prison, far away from his family, without notice. Please take the Urgent Action, calling for Binh’s release from prison and protection from mistreatment thereafter.
Are you interested in human rights in Vietnam or Southeast Asia? Do you want to help encourage the right to freedom of expression? The 88 Project is hiring a Vietnam Human Rights Research Officer. This is an Asia-based/remote position. Please read the job description for more details and for information on how to apply. The deadline for applications is July 15.
© 2018 The 88 Project