Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 30/2019 – Week of July 22-28
Featured Image: Political prisoner Chau Van Kham, Source: Viet Tan.
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 22-28. Australian national and Viet Tan member Chau Van Kham remains behind bars over six months after his arrest; authorities have extended his pre-trial investigation period until September. Activist Ha Hai Ninh was tried this week in Quang Nai province. And political prisoner Nguyen Nam Phong was released from prison. Nguyen Trung Truc is no longer on hunger strike. But fellow democracy activist Truong Minh Duc’s wife still hasn’t been able to visit him in prison; he was reported to be on hunger strike still in mid-July. Read testimony from Nguyen Thuy Hanh, who, along with several others, was attacked while attempting to visit Duc and other striking prisoners on July 12. Hanh and the others were physically attacked and their documents confiscated. In the news, read about Vietnam’s new, internal social media network and imprisoned US citizen Michael Nguyen’s wife’s testimony in front of the US House of Representatives. In case you missed it, we’ve posted some tips and tricks to help you navigate our new Map of Human Rights Violations. Coming up this week, Ha Van Nam and six other toll station protesters will be tried for “disturbing public order” as part of a crackdown on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) protests. And please take action for Michael Nguyen by signing a petition for his release.
HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
On July 23, 2019, authorities in Quang Nai Province tried activist Ha Hai Ninh in a closed trial under Article 109 of the 2015 Criminal Code for “activities aimed at overthrowing the government.” The trial was not reported on in state media, and news only surfaced when some of Ninh’s friends were summoned to testify at the trial. Ninh’s type of activism is largely unconfirmed at this point, but some reports say he is a 21-year-old and potentially a supporter of some civil society groups.
This week, we remember the trial and arrest anniversaries of the following activists:
- Le Dinh Luong, environment and pro-democracy activist, arrested on July 24, 2017 and later sentenced to 20 years
- Tran Thi Nga, land and labor rights activist, sentenced to nine years in prison on July 25, 2017
Defendants in the Court on July 23, 2018. Source: Infonet
- Ten June 2018 protesters tried on July 23, 2018 in BInh Thuan province and sentenced to between two and 3.5 years in prison
Read testimony from Nguyen Thuy Hanh from the July 12, 2019 attack on a group of family members and supporters attempting to visit political prisoners on hunger strike at Prison No. 6 in Nghe An province. Hanh described physical attacks on all members of the group, as well as confiscation of important documents and verbal abuse. “Under the blazing sun, the thugs violently escorted the group, including elderly citizens, youth, and even children, all without hats, for a few kilometers,” she said. “No one was spared from their beatings. Everyone had been abused.”
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Wife of American imprisoned in Vietnam testifies in D.C., Roxana Kopetman, The OC Register, July 25, 2019: “Helen Nguyen told members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, along with several non-committee House members who represent parts of Southern California, that she and the couple’s four daughters are suffering – and will continue to suffer – because Michael Nguyen was sentenced last month to spend 12 years in a Vietnamese prison. She also implored the lawmakers to do everything in their power to bring him home.”
Vietnam FTA: EU is more pragmatic than principled, David Hutt, Asia Times, July 24, 2019: “Less justifiable, however, is why the EU would choose Vietnam as the country to conduct the bloc’s ‘most ambitious free trade deal ever concluded with a developing country,’ as EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström put it. Vietnam is arguably the region’s worst violator of human rights, and it unapologetically remains a one-party state dictated by an increasingly aggressive Communist Party. There has been strong opposition within the European Parliament (which could still scupper it) over the EU basically rewarding an undemocratic, authoritarian nation.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Incident View of the Map of Human Rights Violations