Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 33/2018 – Week of August 13-19
Featured Image: Le Dinh Luong on trial on August 16, 2018, Source: AFP Photo/Vietnam News Agency
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 August 13-18. A court in Nghe An province sentenced political activist Le Dinh Luong to 20 years in prison on August 16, one of the longest sentences in recent years. Another political activist, Nguyen Trung Truc, was supposed to face trial on August 17, but it was postponed. The founder of the Vietnam Republic Party, Nguyen Viet Dung, received a one-year reduction of his sentence on appeal this week, but he did not have a lawyer at the appeal trial. Authorities have also announced that citizen journalist Do Cong Duong’s trial is set for September 10. In prison, migrant labor rights activist Tran Thi Nga is receiving death threats and is subject to beatings. US citizen Michael Nguyen also remains detained with no official charges. This week, read our last translation of a series of letters from Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a well-known figure in the Vietnamese democracy movement, who writes from prison on current events and his desire to stay in Vietnam. Thuc has also been on a hunger strike since August 14 to protest against the authorities forcing him to admit guilt. We remember several political prisoners this week: Nguyen Nam Phong, who was arrested for trying to protect environmental activist Hoang Duc Binh; Catholic prisoner Ho Duc Hoa; and pastor A Dao and many other ethnic minority prisoners. Several activists and communities are at-risk this week, including writer Pham Doan Trang, who was severely beaten after attending a music show, female blogger Huynh Thuc Vy, and Buddhist Youth Movement members. In the news, read an interview with Will Nguyen, who was detained after protesting in Vietnam and later deported, and a piece on the Catholic community’s role in the Vietnam activist movement. Please consider donating to the Doan Ket Fund, from the NOW! Campaign, to support political prisoners, activists at risk, and their families.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
US citizen Michael Nguyen is still being detained in Vietnam. His family has not been able to speak with him. Several US lawmakers are organizing efforts to press for his release. Mr. Nguyen still has not been officially charged and could be held for several months without charges.
Thuc, a prolific writer, has written a series of letters home to his family about prison life and his thoughts on current events. In the third and last letter, from June 2018, which we translated and published on our website, Thuc writes: “Whether as a civilian or a prisoner, I always try my best to do everything I can to help the nation fulfills its historical mission. This has been my ultimate goal for many years.” The Vietnamese government has chosen to imprison someone like Thuc who merely wants to promote peace, democracy, and prosperity for his country. We hope these letters will help you understand more about who he is as an individual, a thinker, and a visionary. Click here to read the firstand second letters in the series.
This week, we remembered Nguyen Nam Phong’s birthday on August 15. He was arrested in late 2017 after driving a car for a Catholic priest and environmental activist Hoang Duc Binh in May 2017. He refused to open the door for police during Binh’s arrest and was later sentenced to two years in prison.
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Vietnam’s Catholics: Cross With China, And All Communists: “Le Dinh Luong, a pro-democracy activist and Catholic from Nghe An province, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and five years of house arrest on Thursday for attempting to ‘overthrow the people’s administration’ for, among other charges, inciting demonstrations that followed the 2016 chemical spill at the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel plant. Catholics played a prominent part in those protests, which called for greater compensation for fishermen affected by the spill, and retaliatory attacks against them have been common, according to Luong’s daughter-in-law, Nguyen Thi Xoan, who blames government agents for a string of attacks on Catholic places of worship.”
In light of recent detentions of peaceful protesters and activists in Vietnam, consider contributing to the Doan Ket Fund, a fund established by the NOW! Campaign to support political prisoners in Vietnam. “Doan Ket” is Vietnamese for “solidarity.” All donations go directly and entirely to political prisoners and their families or to individuals identified by the NOW! Campaign as at risk of arrest, detention, and imprisonment.