Featured Image: Imprisoned pastor and democracy activist Nguyen Trung Ton
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 3-9. There are updates from prison this week on the health and situations of political prisoners Vu Quang Thuan and Nguyen Trung Ton, as well as letters from the daughters of two prominent imprisoned activists — Vuong Van Tha and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who both are facing extremely difficult and dangerous conditions behind bars. After many months, there is also news that Le Anh Hung’s case has been sent to the Procuracy for prosecution, and two members of the Hien Phap constitutional rights group have potentially been charged with “disrupting security.” Another is still detained without charges, and police continue to pester his young daughter into submitting to police questioning. In addition, Facebook user and Brotherhood for Democracy member Nguyen Van Trang received a prosecution order against him this week. Only days after being released from prison following his three-year sentence, Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy gave an interview to Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Me Nam) in which he described torture in prison. And several activists were harassed this week: human rights lawyer Dang Dinh Manh and activists visiting families of jailed protesters. In international advocacy, the Vietnam Human Rights Network gave awards to two political prisoners and one activist at risk. And in the news, read about the push from the Communist Party to crack down on dissent at the local level and within intellectual circles. Please take action for Tran Huynh Duy Thuc who was potentially poisoned in prison on November 20. Share his daughter’s open letter, calling on Vietnam to improve Thuc’s prison conditions and uphold its obligations under international law.
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Tran Huynh Duy Thuc’s daughter wrote an open letter to the international community in light of a possible attempted poisoning against Thuc in prison on November 20 and overall worsened prison conditions. Thuc is one of Vietnam’s most well-known political prisoners and one of the leaders of the democratic movement. He was arrested in 2009 and later sentenced to 16 years in prison. In the letter, she writes: “Our family is extremely worried about his health and safety since we believe these new forms of mistreatment are used to coerce my dad to admit guilty in exchange for an early parole. For the past 9 years, my dad steadfastly believes that fighting for freedom of speech is not a crime. My dad has never inflicted violence or threats against the government. He has announced for many times that he is innocent and will never admit guilty.” Please share the letter and urge Vietnam to improve Thuc’s immediate conditions and to release him from prison.
Activists Doan Thi Hong (Facebook name Xuan Hong) and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh (Facebook name Tran Hoang Lan) may now be charged with “disrupting security” under Article 118 of the 2015 Criminal Code for their involvement in the Hien Phap group, which aims to educate people about their constitutional rights. Detained in early September, neither has been able to meet with family or lawyers. They face up to 15 years in prison under the charge. Tran Thanh Phuong, another member of the group, still remains detained with no formal charges against him. Phuong was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on September 1. In October, police tried to summon his young daughter for questioning about his activities; even now, police still are trying to interrogate the girl as well as Phuong’s wife. Several of Hien Phap’s members were arrested in early September as authorities tried to quell plans for public demonstrations.
On December 4, Nguyen Van Trang, Facebook name Trang Nguyen, received a prosecution order. Trang is a student at Hong Duc University and also a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy. Security forces of Thanh Hoa Province came to his house and announced the Procuracy’s decision against him.
Lawyer Le Cong Dinh reported on lawyer Dang Dinh Manh’s harassment after Huynh Thuc Vy’s trial on November 30. After Dang Dinh Manh passed the Buon Ho toll station, traffic police stopped his car and asked for his documents. He did not give them the documents but asked the officers what law he had violated and why he had been stopped. They accused him of driving away after causing an accident. After Manh suggested they check his car’s camera, police made a phone call and said that the accident might have happened in the tunnels where the camera would not have observed it. Manh argued that his car has a camera both in front and back. Police again called someone and finally let him go, saying that “they might have misunderstood, so please go” without checking the camera as Manh had suggested. It was not the first time lawyer Manh was harassed after a dissident’s trial. In May 2018, right after Manh left the court building, right in the area tightly surveilled by the police, he was coerced into a car and his work laptop was taken away by a group of unknown individuals.
Four activists were monitored by police and later attacked by pro-government thugs while attempting to visit families of some of the protesters imprisoned after the national June demonstrations in Bien Hoa. En route to Dong Nai Province, police stopped the car, and later plainclothes agents followed it and physically injured the passengers by throwing rocks into the car. The activists were forced to turn back and could not meet with the families as planned.
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Vietnam’s new power monopoly: “While lamenting that ‘corruption is threatening the survival of the regime’, Trong believes that ‘political decadence’ is even more dangerous. Two weeks after he was nominated as president, the CPV announced its intention to reprimand former vice minister of science and technology Chu Hao. Hao quickly renounced his CPV membership, prompting the Party to dismiss him altogether. A public intellectual and reform advocate, Hao pioneered a publishing house promoting liberal thought. He was censured for his ‘serious violation of the party’s principles’ and for ‘speaking and writing outside the party line’. The case of Chu Hao is illustrative of Trong’s larger anti-liberalism agenda.”
Please take action for Tran Huynh Duy Thuc after he was potentially poisoned in prison on November 20. Please share the open letter written by Thuc’s daughter demanding that Vietnam protect Thuc’s health in prison and uphold its obligations to the UN’s Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
© 2018 The 88 Project