Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 42/2017 – Week of December 11-17
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 December 11-17. Lawyer Ha Huy Son reports that his clients Vu Quang Thuan, Nguyen Van Dien, and Tran Hoang Phuc, all arrested in 2017, will probably be tried next month under Article 88. We remember Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha, who were arrested two years ago this week and remain in pre-trial detention, as well as Le Thanh Tung and Tran Anh Kim, who were sentenced to 12 and 13 years in prison a year ago. Religious leaders and parishioners were targeted this week in two separate incidents for attempting to attend a special mass and for the construction of a celebratory Christmas cave. On December 14, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the human rights situation in Vietnam. Also this week, the Committee to Protect Journalists released its annual report, with Vietnam in the top five for most journalists jailed. Read news and analysis on corruption and human rights abuses in state-run drug rehabilitation centers. Coming up on December 22, Tran Thi Nga will appeal her nine-year sentence. Please take action for human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and send a message of support.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
December 16 also marked one year since retired military officer Tran Anh Kim and ex-soldier Le Thanh Tung were sentenced to 13 and 12 years in prison, respectively, under Article 79, for planning to establish a pro-democracy organization called the “National Force to Launch the Democracy Flag.” Kim and Tung had previously served 5.5 and 5 years in prison, respectively, on similar charges. Their appeals were denied in May 2017.
NEWS & ANALYSIS
What’s behind Vietnam’s corruption crackdown?: “Although the party presents a public image of unity, there are diverse views on everything from the pace and openness of reforms to Vietnam’s delicate diplomatic balancing between China, the United States and other powers. What best characterizes the current leadership is conservatism in preserving the party’s absolute authority in close alignment with the security establishment. It marks a change of style from the leadership under Dung and his allies, some of whom emerged as personalities in their own right and showed signs of readiness for greater political openness. Alongside the corruption arrests, Vietnam has also arrested more bloggers, activists and other critics this year than in any other since a 2011 crackdown on youth activists.”
‘No human rights at all’: Vietnamese drug addicts undergo ‘work therapy’ while authorities collect profits: “Most will stay for one or two years, or up to four if they are deemed unfit for release, and are subject to a range of daily labour – from farming cashews to making sportswear for Western clothing brands, which they can sometimes earn a meagre salary from. Rights groups accuse officials at the centres of skimming from those salaries or pocketing boarding fees paid by some users’ families, and say addicts are detained against their will. ‘These are a failure in terms of drug treatment, but they’re incredibly successful in terms of generating money for government functionaries who run the centres,’ said Richard Pearshouse, an associate director at Human Rights Watch who wrote a report about the facilities.”
The appeal trial for Tran Thi Nga will be held on December 22 by the High People’s Court of Hanoi at the headquarters of the People’s Court of Hanam province. She was sentenced to 9 years in prison and 5 years of probation on July 25, 2017 under Article 88 (“propaganda against the socialist state”). Since her arrest on January 21, and even after her first instance trial in July, she has not been allowed to see her family. There is a report that she has been in solitary confinement. Nga has two children: four and seven years old.
Send a message of solidarity to Nguyen Van Dai with Frontline Defenders for the second anniversary of his arrest. Click on “Send a message of solidarity” under his photo here.
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