Amnesty International: Open letter on Prisoner of Conscience Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức

On the 8th anniversary of the arrest of POC Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức – and half way through his 16-year prison sentence – the Directors of 12 Amnesty International offices call for his immediate and unconditional release. The letter also calls on Viet Nam’s prison authorities to ensure that their treatment of Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức adheres strictly, as a minimum, to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules) so that he is treated with dignity and respect while he is incarcerated.

Ref: TG ASA 41/2017.002 Index: ASA 41.6234.2017
To Lam
Minister of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security

19 May 2017

Your Excellency

RE: OPEN LETTER ON TRẦN HUỲNH DUY THỨC

We are writing to draw your attention to the situation for Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức, who is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence at Prison No 6 in Nghe An province.

Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức, a successful entrepreneur and advocate for social and economic reform, has been imprisoned since 24 May 2009, when he was arrested on charges of “theft of telephone lines”. Authorities later initiated a criminal investigation under Article 88 of Viet Nam’s 1999 Penal Code for “conducting propaganda against the state,” but subsequently charged him with “attempting to overthrow the people’s administration” under Article 79. On 20 January 2010, Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức was tried, convicted and sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment with five years’ house arrest on release. His trial fell short of international standards for fair trial, disregarding the presumption of innocence and right to a defence. The prosecution provided no evidence to support the indictment. According to observers, the judges deliberated for only 15 minutes before returning with the judgment, which took 45 minutes to read, suggesting it had been prepared in advance of the hearing.

Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his human right to freedom of expression in his writing and his calls for peaceful social and economic reform. We therefore urge that he be immediately and unconditionally released, and his conviction quashed.

As Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức reaches the half-way point of his sentence, we are particularly concerned that he is held in conditions that do not meet international standards and that are negatively affecting his health and well-being. During the course of his imprisonment, he has been transferred several times, without prior notice to his family, who have to travel long distances to visit him. Rule 59 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly in December 2015 and provides that “Prisoners shall be allocated, to the extent possible, to prisons close to their homes or their places of social rehabilitation.”

In his current location – Prison No. 6 – he is not provided with enough light in his cell when the electricity is switched off every morning so that he can read and write comfortably. Rule 14(a) of the Nelson Mandela Rules provides that “The windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air whether or not there is artificial ventilation.” Rule 14(b) provides that “Artificial light shall be provided sufficient for the prisoners to read or work without injury to eyesight.” Yet prison officials have refused to either improve the situation themselves or allow his family to provide artificial lighting in the form of a small battery-run lamp. As a consequence, his eyesight is badly affected, a condition for which hehas received no examination or treatment in the prison. Other rights to which he should be entitled have also been denied by the prison authorities, such as the transmission of letters between him and his family and access to reading material, in breach of Rules 58(1) and 64 of the Nelson Mandela Rules, respectively. He has also been threatened with reprisals for speaking up for the human rights of other prisoners.

We call on Viet Nam’s prison authorities to ensure that their treatment of Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức adheres strictly, as a minimum, to the Nelson Mandela Rules so that he is treated with dignity and respect while he is incarcerated.

Finally, we urge once more that Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức and all other prisoners of conscience in Viet Nam are immediately and unconditionally released. As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Viet Nam must respect and protect the human right to freedom of expression. By imprisoning people like Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức, who has done nothing but express his opinions peacefully, Viet Nam is failing in its obligations under international human rights law.

Yours sincerely

Claire Mallinson
Director, Amnesty International Australia

Shamini Darshni
Director, Amnesty International Malaysia

Sylvie Brigot-Vilain
Director, Amnesty International France

Altantuya Batdorj
Director, Amnesty International Mongolia

Markus N. Beeko
Director, Amnesty International Germany

Grant Bayldon
Director, Amnesty International New Zealand

Mabel Au
Director, Amnesty International Hong Kong

Anna Lindenfors
Director, Amnesty International Sweden

Usman Hamid
Director, Amnesty International Indonesia

Hideki Walkbayashi
Director, Amnesty International Japan

Jose Noel Olano
Head of Office, Amnesty International Philippines

Piyanut Kotason
Director, Amnesty International Thailand

Kate Allen
Director, Amnesty International UK

Margaret Huang
Director, Amnesty International USA

Resource: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa41/6234/2017/en/

EU’s lawyers’ letter to VN’s PM on Nguyen Van Dai’s case

Full version

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
Office of the Prime Minister
1, Hoang Hoa Tham
Hanoi Socialist
Republic of Viet Nam

Brussels, 9 June 2016

Re: Concerns regarding Vietnamese lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which, through the national Bars and Law Societies of the Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area, represents more than 1 million European lawyers. In addition to membership from EU bars, it also has observer representatives from a further thirteen European countries’ bars. The CCBE places great emphasis on respect for human rights and the rule of law, and is particularly concerned with the situation of human rights defenders around the world.

The CCBE wishes to express its serious concern over the situation of Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer who founded the Vietnam Human Rights Centre and the Brotherhood for Democracy. Mr. Van Dai has been in detention for nearly six months.

We understand that, on 6 December 2015, as he was on his way back from leading a human rights workshop, Mr. Van Dai was beaten with metal bars by men identified as plainclothes police officers. Ten days later, he was arrested just before he was going to meet representatives of the European Union in Hanoi. His house was searched and officers confiscated his computers, USB sticks, cameras, and savings account’s bank book. He was subsequently charged with “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code, which has been ruled in violation of international law by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Mr. Van Dai has been in detention ever since, awaiting trial. If convicted, he faces three to 20 years in prison.

In this context, the CCBE wishes to draw to your attention the Principle of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (attached), in particular Principles 16 and 22 on Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers, and Principle 23 on Freedom of expression and association.

In view of the above, the CCBE respectfully urges your Excellency to take effective steps to ensure that the charges against Mr. Van Dai are dropped and that he is released, and to guarantee his safety and security. In addition, the CCBE asks you to guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Viet Nam are able to express their opinions and perform their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation, or harassment.

Yours sincerely,

Michel Benichou
President

Outcome of Appellate Review for Vietnamese Activists: Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Van Minh, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh

13 DECEMBER 2014

The appeal of three Vietnamese human rights activists was held in Dong Thap Province on 12 December 2014, resulting in their convictions being affirmed. We denounce the results as a violation of fair trial standards under Vietnamese law and the international human rights standards and call on the Vietnamese authorities to release the Defendants immediately.

Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, along with her co-Defendants, Mr. Nguyen Van Minh and Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, had been arrested on 11 February 2014. On 26 August 2014, they were convicted and sentenced to 3 years, 2.5 years and 2 years imprisonment under Article 245 for causing public disorder.

Read More

Appeal Trial of Vietnamese Activists: Bui Thi Minh Hang & Others

On 26 August 2014, in a one-day trial, three human rights defenders were sentenced in Dong Thap Province, Vietnam under Article 245 of its Penal Code for “causing public disorder.” Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, a defender for land-lost farmers and religious groups, was sentenced to three years imprisonment, while her co-defendants, Mr. Nguyen Van Minh and Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, both religious workers of the independent but outlawed Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, were sentenced to two-and-a-half years and two years’ imprisonment, respectively. The defendants were 3 of 21 individuals who were beaten and detained while attempting to visit a fellow activist, human rights lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen. With the upcoming appeal to be held on 12 December 2014, we would like to call on the Vietnamese government to ensure that the appeal proceedings are carried out in a way which complies with Vietnamese laws as well as the international law and standards on fair trial.

Read More

List of Donors – VOICE Australia

Voice Australia sincerely appreciate and would like to thank all our benefactors, sponsors and donors for supporting our Australia Roadshow to fund raise for the resettlement of the remaining refugees in Thailand and supporting other civil society works.

Please note: we still have a number of donors pledged but the fund has yet been received. We will update this list soon. 

Read More

List of donors – VOICE Canada

2000 dollars was deposited to Mrs Paula Hicks-Le Anh Nguyet, NJVACA TD Bank account on 11-10-2014 for VOICE-Canada fund raising.

Below is the list of donors.

Read More

Freedom at Last (cập nhật danh sách quyên góp)

Nam Lộc

Không ai có thể ngờ được câu nói lịch sử của Mục Sư Martin Luther King, nhà tranh đấu cho nhân quyền nổi tiếng ở Hoa Kỳ hơn nửa thế kỷ trước, mà nay lại được 28 người tỵ nạn Việt Nam reo vang trên đất nước Canada để diễn tả niềm vui sướng cùng tâm trạng của mình khi họ vừa đặt chân đến bến bờ tự do trong vòng tay ân cần và thương mến của cộng đồng người Việt tại thành phố Vancouver vào lúc 4 giờ chiều Thứ Năm, 13 tháng 11, 2014 vừa qua.

Read More

Danh sách ủng hộ từ Cộng đồng Việt Nam Tự do New Jersey

VOICE xin gửi đến quý vị danh sách các cá nhân từ Cộng đồng Việt Nam Tự do New Jersey đã ủng hộ như sau:

Read More

Danh sách ủng hộ đồng bào tỵ nạn tại Thái Lan – Cập nhật lần 4

VOICE xin cập nhật tới bạn đọc danh sách quý vị đã quyên góp ủng hộ đồng bào tỵ nạn tại Thái Lan. Đây là danh sách cập nhật lần thứ 4. Trân trọng.

Read More

Danh sách ủng hộ đồng bào tỵ nạn tại Thái Lan – Cập nhật lần 3

VOICE xin cập nhật tới bạn đọc danh sách quý vị đã quyên góp ủng hộ đồng bào tỵ nạn tại Thái Lan. Đây là danh sách cập nhật lần thứ 3.

Trân trọng.

Read More

Vẫn còn lắm chông gai – Nam Lộc

Sau gần 30 năm miệt mài, cuộc hành trình tìm tự do đầy cam go và nhục nhằn của 97 người tỵ nạn VN cuối cùng tại Thái Lan vẫn còn gặp phải những chông gai, trở ngại vào giờ thứ 25! Mặc dù đã được chính phủ Canada cấp giấy phép nhập cảnh, mặc dù đã được Cao Ủy Tỵ Nạn LHQ hoàn tất toàn bộ hồ sơ tỵ nạn, mặc dù đã cầm vé máy bay trong tay, tuy nhiên nhóm người tỵ nạn đầu tiên dự trù đặt chân đến phi trường Vancouver, Canada vào ngày Thứ Năm, mùng 9 Tháng 10, 2014 vừa qua vẫn chưa được chính phủ Thái Lan cấp giấy phép xuất cảnh!

Read More

Vietnam Prepares for UN Human Rights Review, Activists Lobby for Pressure

Tra Mi, Trung Nguyen/VOA – Representatives from the Vietnamese government will appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Wednesday for a review of its human rights record amid mounting criticism that Hanoi does not tolerate opposition voices.

Rolando Gomez, spokesman for the council, told VOA’s Vietnamese service the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which takes place every four years, is “a significant occasion for Vietnam.”

“It will provide a unique opportunity for the government of Vietnam to spell out what steps they have taken in the country to advance human rights,” he said. “The idea would also be for them to spell out the challenges that remain.  It is also an opportunity for other U.N. member states to propose recommendations to Vietnam in a constructive manner.”

Meanwhile, activists who accuse Vietnam of conducting a crackdown on critics are also gathering in Geneva to offer their perspective and put pressure on Hanoi.

Blogger Nguyen Anh Tuan said a delegation of activists is meeting this week with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other U.N. bodies.

“This is the first time a delegation of rights defenders from Vietnam has made such a campaign trip to Western countries to provide the international community with real facts and information on human rights in Vietnam,” said Tuan. “We hope the international community will make greater efforts in pushing Hanoi to respect and improve human rights.”

Another critic of the government in Hanoi is Dang Xuong Hung, a former Vietnamese diplomat who is seeking asylum in Switzerland.  Dang, who left his post in Geneva after withdrawing from the Vietnamese Communist Party in 2012, says minor reforms will not be enough.

“I would like the world to pay closer attention to Vietnam’s human rights to help bring Vietnam back to the international community, back to the civilized world, and to a brighter future,” said Hung.

Last year, Vietnam was chosen to join the U.N. rights body in a move that angered many activists, who said Hanoi should first improve its record.

Hanoi, which has said it has full respect for human rights, has dismissed the activists’ attempt to pressure the government.  Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh was recently quoted by local media as saying that “there are forces and people who always attempt to criticize Vietnam to serve their own purposes.”

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.)

Vietnamese Activists Tour US, Europe for Human Rights

TRAMI/VOA WASHINGTON — A group of Vietnamese bloggers and human rights activists is touring the United States, Europe and Australia to advocate for pressure on Hanoi to improve its rights record.

The delegation has been invited by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs. It consists of representatives from groups such as VOICE, Vietnamese Bloggers Network, Dan Lam Bao, Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, and relatives of current political prisoners.

At a hearing of a U.S. congressional commission this week, blogger Nguyen Anh Tuan told VOA’s Vietnamese service that the group has been very busy.

“Our campaign started with visits to foreign embassies in Vietnam lately, and on this U.S. trip, we’ll meet with U.S. State Department, U.S. lawmakers, international rights groups before we fly to the EU on the same mission to ask the international to press for Vietnam’s rights improvement,” he said. “Our trip is made before Hanoi’s Universal Periodic Review at the U.N. Human Rights Council on 2/5 in Geneva, which is also one of our stops during the campaign.”

Also at the hearing Thursday was the mother of jailed Vietnamese labor rights activist Do Thi Minh Hanh, Tran Thi Ngoc Minh.

Appearing earlier on “VOA Express”, she said Vietnamese authorities should spend more time learning from activists.

“Prisoners of conscience in Vietnam are patriotic Vietnamese who stand up against injustice and violent power. Instead of listening to them, the authorities use oppression, beating, abuse, discrimination and other means to put them in prison.”

Her daughter is a 28-year-old labor rights activist who was imprisoned for seven years in 2010 for distributing leaflets in support of workers demanding better pay and conditions.

Delegation members say they are aiming to provide the U.S. and the U.N. full and accurate information on the current human rights situation in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government has not commented on the activists’ trip.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

Press release: Activists start UPR tour around the world

12/1/2014 – Invited by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other INGOs, a delegation advocating for human rights in Vietnam will visit the United States, Europe, and Australia starting from 12 January 2014. The delegation consists of representatives from VOICE, Vietnamese Bloggers Network, Dan Lam Bao, the Vietnam Path Movement, Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, No-U Vietnam, the Association of Political and Religious Prisoners, and relatives of current political prisoners in Vietnam.

The delegation will meet with OHCHR and other UN bodies related to the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Vietnam which will take place on February 5, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, a process that occurs every four (4) years. In addition, the delegation will meet with representatives of the US Congress and Department of State, the European Union Parliament, the Australian Parliament, Amnesty International, Frontline Defenders, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), and other INGOs as well as the overseas Vietnamese communities. Furthermore, the delegation will participate in side events related to the UPR with representatives from the Permanent Missions in Geneva, international human rights organizations and the media.

With assistance from OHCHR and the international organizations mentioned above, this delegation consisting of Vietnamese activists from in and outside of the country, aims to provide full and accurate information on the current human rights situation in Vietnam. It is hoped that our advocacy will inspire further changes resulting in the Vietnamese Government to respect and protect human rights as a new member state of the Human Rights Council.

For more information regarding the delegation and its activities, please contact our representative, Ms Ann Pham at +1.714.325.8276 or vietnamupr@gmail.com.

SIGNED:
Vietnamese Bloggers Network
Dan Lam Bao
Vietnam Path Movement
Hoa Hao Buddhist Church
No-U Vietnam
Association of Political and Religious Prisoners of Vietnam
VOICE

Project Freedom at Last

PRESS RELEASE

First three of 100 Vietnamese refugee families stranded
in the Philippines for almost 20 years arriving 
in Calgary and Vancouver

Three Vietnamese refugee families will finally arrive in Canada to begin their new lives after being stranded in the Philippines for almost 20 years: one family in Calgary on March 6, and two families in Vancouver on March 7.

Following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, an estimated million and a half people fled the newly established Communist regime in Vietnam, mostly by the sea, in small leaky boats, to neighbouring countries. About half a million of these people never made it to the shore of freedom, having perished at sea, due to starvation or drowning in the rough, treacherous South China Sea, or having been killed by pirates. Among those lucky enough to survive this ordeal, about one hundred families remain stranded in the Philippines because no country wanted to accept them.

On May 10, 2007, after 5 years of working with lawyer Hoi Trinh, a Vietnamese-Australian refugee rights advocate, and the SOS VietPhi Refugee Support Group, the Vietnamese Canadian Federation succeeded in obtaining a special arrangement with the federal government, whereby the government would facilitate the immigration of these people based on humanitarian and compassionate consideration. Those who do not qualify for admission to Canada under either the Family Class or the Federal Skilled Worker Class would be assessed based on this consideration.

Following this arrangement, the Vietnamese Canadian Federation established Project Freedom at Last and worked with VOICE (Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment), a non-profit and charitable organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Manila, and other Vietnamese – Canadian organizations, to assist these refugees with their application process and their resettlement in Canada.

So far, over $500,000 has been raised in Canada, the U.S., and Australia, and 41 community supported groups formed across the country to help these refugees rebuild their lives. At present, 24 families and individuals have been issued entry visas and three first families will arrive this week: one, sponsored by their relatives, will resettle in Calgary and the other two supported by the Hoa Nghiem Buddhist Temple in Vancouver.

Mr. Ed Komarniki, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, will be on hand to greet the two families arriving inVancouver, on behalf of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Diane Finley.

“Our government and our Prime Minister support the Vietnamese community in Canada and we are pleased to welcome these Vietnamese families to our country,” said Minister Finley. “We would also like to commend the Vietnamese Canadian Federation for their efforts to organize community support across Canada.”

On behalf of the Vietnamese community in Canada and elsewhere, the Vietnamese Canadian Federation wishes to thank all those who have helped make this happen. Special thanks are extended to Minister Finley, Members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration under the current and previous Parliaments for their continuing support, and to all those who have made generous financial contributions to Project Freedom at Last.

-30-

For immediate release: March 6, 2008
Can D. Le
General Coordinator, Project Freedom at Last
Vietnamese Canadian Federation
Tel. (613) 230-8282