Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 47/2019 – Week of November 18-24
Featured Image: Young activist Phan Cong Hai, Source: Vo Hong Ly
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 November 18-24. On November 21, dissident journalist Pham Chi Dung was arrested and charged with conducting propaganda against the state. Just two days prior, authorities arrested young activist Phan Cong Hai, who had been wanted for six months, on the same charge. And coming up this week, blogger Pham Van Diep will face trial under the exact same charge for his writings and participation in peaceful protests. Ha Van Thanh, an environmental activist who was deported back to Vietnam after the US rejected his asylum claim, is now behind bars in Vietnam and may be in a precarious situation. Also this week, a Catholic priest was barred from leaving Vietnam to attend a mass by the Pope in Japan. In news and analysis, read about the latest in US-Vietnam naval relations and opinions on the proposed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the arrest of Pham Chi Dung. In case you missed it, we released our full-length interview with female environmental activist Cao Vinh Thinh. Please take action for Pham Chi Dung by sharing the Committee to Protect Journalists’ statement calling for his immediate release.
HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
- Huynh Thuc Vy, co-founder of Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, birthday November 20, sentenced to almost three years in prison, which she will have to serve once her youngest child turns three years old
- A Quyn, Montagnard Christian activist, arrested November 18, 2013, and sentenced to nine years in prison
Tu Thien Luong, Nguyen Thai Binh, and Phan Thanh Y
- Tu Thien Luong, Nguyen Dinh, Nguyen Thai Binh, and Phan Thanh Y, members of the An Dan Dai Dao Buddhist sect, arrested November 23, 2012, and sentenced to 12 to 16 years in prison
Vietnamese activists sent an open letter to the government this week pressing it to cease harassment against activists who wear “No-U” t-shirts. The “No-U” shirts protest China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea; police often harass, question, or even detain activists seen wearing the shirts in public.
NEWS & ANALYSIS
U.S. to provide ship to Vietnam to boost South China Sea patrols, Phil Stewart and James Pearson, Reuters, November 20, 2019: “The United States announced on Wednesday it will provide Vietnam with another coast guard cutter for its growing fleet of ships, boosting Hanoi’s ability to patrol the South China Sea amid tensions with China. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper disclosed the decision during an address in Vietnam, which has emerged as the most vocal opponent in Asia of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. In his speech, Esper took aim at China, which he accused of ‘bullying’ neighbors, like Vietnam.”
How Can The EU Parliament Convince Us That Vietnam Will Improve Its Human Rights Record When Dissidents Continue To Get Jailed For Exercising Their Rights?, Quynh-Vi Tran, The Vietnamese, November 21, 2019: “Vietnam ascended to the ICCPR in 1982, but with regard to complying with the international covenant on human rights, it didn’t actually provide any opportunities for people to learn and exercise their rights. More than that, the government did not allow the Vietnamese people to use the ICCPR in courts to defend themselves when such rights were being violated. The point is that more than three decades after Vietnam joined the ICCPR, the human rights situation in Vietnam remains hopeless and people’s rights are being violated on a daily basis. How can we believe that the EV-FTA will improve such a situation when the ICCPR has so far failed so miserably?”
Vietnam’s assault on a journalist, David Hutt, Asia Times, November 22, 2019: “Perhaps it is the finest honor for a journalist working in a dictatorship to be called a threat to the state, but [Pham Chi] Dung’s articles are neither insurrectionary nor unpatriotic. His view, as he told me years ago, was that the Communist Party needed to be held to account. ‘The party is at a dead end. It is nowadays on the side of rich people; there’s no longer any socialism and inequality is rising,’ he told me.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Take action with the Committee to Protect Journalists for dissident journalist Pham Chi Dung, who was arrested on November 21. Share the statement, calling for Dung’s immediate release from prison.