Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 28/2017 – Week of September 4-10
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 September 4-10. Nguyen Van Oai will go to trial on September 18 after an almost month-long postponement. Phan Kim Khanh met with a lawyer for the first time since his arrest. Tran Thi Nga is being denied a visit from her family in prison. Nguyen Van Dai and Nguyen Huu Vinh refuse to be exiled. A teacher and a Catholic priest were targeted for their activism. Vietnam is piloting school human rights education with unclear implementation and intentions. In the news and analysis, activism persists despite an ever-present threat of arrest in Vietnam, Vietnam faces a number of challenges for 2017, and Southeast Asia struggles in its pursuit of democracy and human rights. Please take action for Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, and Nguyen Trung Ton, who are suffering from health issues in prison.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Phan Kim Khanh has met with a lawyer for the first time since his arrest on March 21. According to his lawyer, Khanh appears to be in good spirit. His trial is likely to occur soon, although his family has not received any announcement yet. Read our previous updates on Khanh’s situation, here.
Tran Thi Nga has not seen her family since her trial over six weeks ago. Her husband was told that the Supreme Court would have to authorize a visit. Nga, a land and labor rights activist, who was sentenced on July 25, 2017 to nine years in prison, is a former migrant laborer and the mother of four, including two young children of four and seven-years-old.
RELEVANT NEWS & ANALYSIS
Apparent crackdown in Vietnam on social media, but many users undeterred: “This sentiment — you can probably say what you want, as long as you aren’t famous – can be heard often in Vietnam. But Beanland said that even if most of the arrests that get attention are of high-profile dissidents, there may be much more going on that does not make headlines.”
Background Briefing by Carl Thayer: Vietnam- Eleven Foreign Policy Challenges and Opportunities: “There are at least eleven foreign policy challenges and opportunities that Vietnam will face in 2017 [including] 5. Successfully concluding a bilateral trade agreement with the United States (and avoid penalties by Trump for a huge trade surplus). 6. Resolving the Trinh Xuan Thanh case with Germany to avoid punitive action and damage to Vietnam-EU relations. 7. Successful lobbying for non-permanent membership on the UN Security Council, 2020-21.”
It’s not just Burma: Human rights are under attack across Southeast Asia, advocates say: “Although Southeast Asia has seen economic growth, inequality has also increased, leading to insecurity and weakening support for democratic institutions, said Michael Vatikiotis, the Asia regional director at the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. In some newly democratic countries, he added, elites have taken advantage of identity politics — often long-standing ethnic or religious divisions — to generate conflict and shore up their power.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Please take Amnesty International’s Urgent Action for Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, and Nguyen Trung Ton. The three were arrested on July 30 under Article 79 for ties to the Brotherhood for Democracy. They are being held in incommunicado detention and need access to healthcare treatment.
Please also take Amnesty International’s Urgent Action for Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to call on the Vietnamese authorities to ensure that she has access to adequate medical care.