Above: Land rights activist Do Cong Duong will face trial in August, according to his lawyer
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 23-29. Authorities have postponed pro-democracy activist Le Dinh Luong’s trial, originally scheduled for July 30. Land rights activist Do Cong Duong will face trial in August. After sixteen days. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Mother Mushroom) has ended her hunger strike in prison. This week, we remembered labor rights activist Tran Thi Nga on the anniversary of her trial; she is serving a nine-year sentence. A blogger and member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, Bui Quang Thuan, was detained and interrogated by police on July 27. Human Rights Watch called this week for Le Dinh Luong’s release from prison, and they also submitted their recommendations to the UN in preparation for Vietnam’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review. In the news, read about Vietnamese activists and citizens’ complicated relationship with Facebook, the trial of protesters in Binh Thuan province, and the ongoing issues of free press in Southeast Asia, including the recent suspension of a popular Vietnamese newspaper. Coming up, July 30 marks the arrest anniversaries of five political prisoners, all currently imprisoned for their various peaceful defenses of multi-party democracy and religious freedom. Please take action for them.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Vietnam jails 10 more for protests over economic zones: “The official Voice of Vietnam Radio said a people’s court in the central province of Binh Thuan convicted the offenders, aged between 18 and 43, of ‘causing public disorder’. They were seen hurling bricks and stones at police, besides damaging several police vehicles and causing traffic jams during a June 10 protest, it cited the indictment as saying. Their lawyers were not immediately available for comment. Monday’s trial came days after a court in Ho Chi Minh City ordered the release and deportation of an American man of Vietnamese descent accused of the same charge.”
Facebook and Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law: “As an example of the importance of the platform to Vietnamese political life, Vietnam’s leading activist group, Viet Tan, is banned in Vietnam but in 2013 began teaching courses in online activism, from the US, including how to get around sporadic Facebook bans. A 2015 report by the organisation shows how the platform has changed the media and political landscape in Vietnam substantially, making traditional press become more responsive, introducing measures of accountability, and expanding political space in a country where apolitical assemblies have long been banned. Facebook users in Vietnam are distrustful of the government. But user trust in Facebook may also be waning.”
Why Did Vietnam Suspend a Popular Newspaper?: “After all, Tuoi Tre was certainly more investigatory and less prone to pure propaganda than Vietnam’s other state-run newspapers. Many on the Communist Party’s conservative wing thought it to be too liberal. Members of the growing reactionary movement known as ‘red flag groups,’ who agitate online and in the streets for the Party to be more socialist, more disciplined, and stricter on liberal voices in society, certainly disliked Tuoi Tre and have spread rumors about it for months. But Tuoi Tre was still a very popular news outlet (one of the most popular in Vietnam) that allowed the Party to broadcast its message to millions of people. It is difficult to see how the Party made any gains by temporarily closing the newspaper, if it was only motivated by the offending articles. After all, there are unconfirmed reports that in recent months Tuoi Tre took down other controversial articles after being asked to do so by the Ministry of Information and Communications.”
Journalists are being crushed in South-East Asia: “Vietnam’s government is energetically silencing critics, too. This month lawmakers in the one-party state approved a sweeping cyber-security law that would push social media firms to remove content the government dislikes and to reveal the identities of those who use their platforms to spread dissent. Offline, thugs already follow, threaten and sometimes attack activists critical of the Communist regime.”
July 30 will mark the anniversaries of the arrests of five political prisoners: Y Hriam Kpa (not pictured), Nguyen Bac Truyen (top left), Pham Van Troi (top right), Truong Minh Duc (bottom left), and Nguyen Trung Ton (bottom right).
Y Hriam Kpa is an evangelical Christian leader who was pressured into dissolving his church, but he refused and protested against the policy. He was arrested under Article 87 of the 1999 Criminal Code and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Nguyen Bac Truyen is also a religious freedom activist, as well as a human rights defender who has provided free legal advice to victims of land grabs. He was arrested under Article 79 of the 1999 Criminal Code and sentenced to 11 years in prison in April 2018. He was recently transferred to a new prison over 800 km from his family.
Pham Van Troi is a pro-democracy writer and activist and member of the Brotherhood for Democracy. He was sentenced to seven years in prison under Article 79 in April 2018. He was also recently transferred to a new prison.
Truong Minh Duc is a journalist and member of the Brotherhood for Democracy who was sentenced to 12 years in prison under Article 79 in April 2018. He was recently moved to a remote prison without notice.
Nguyen Trung Ton is a Protestant pastor and member of the Brotherhood for Democracy. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison under Article 79 in April 2018 alongside Truyen, Troi, and Duc. He was recently transferred to a prison 1000 km away from his home.
Please take Amnesty International’s Urgent Action for Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, and Nguyen Trung Ton. You can also take Front Line Defender’s action for Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, and Truong Minh Duc, calling for their immediate release from prison.
© 2018 The 88 Project