What did VOICE accomplish in 2017 and 2018?

See the pictures below that highlight what we achieved in the past two years, from four main activities: Training, Civil Society, Advocacy and Refugee Resettlement.

We achieved this not only by the efforts of VOICE members but also through the support of volunteers, VOICE affiliates, partners and especially our enthusiastic supporters in Vietnam and around the world. Thank you to all of you who have made this success possible!

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Anna Nguyen: “It is much more intelligent to try, rather than not to try.”

The following article is the sharing of Anna Nguyen, VOICE’s Director of Programs, on the occasion of the trip to advocate the human rights of the Vietnamese delegation in Europe.

“Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, ‘It can’t be done.'” – Eleanor Roosevelt

On the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), I reflect back on my week in Brussels. This week was definitely a learning experience for me, after an intense week of back to back meetings with Members of the European Parliament and European Commission, talking about the importance of human rights concessions that need to be made by the Vietnamese government prior to the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the leverage the EVFTA can be used to demand for an improved human rights situation in Vietnam.


The EVFTA is a trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam, with hopes that once it’s signed, the EU will boost its trade and investment ties with Vietnam. ‘The EVFTA is an important stepping stone to a wider EU-Southeast Asia trade deal, something which the EU has been striving towards for almost 10 years. Vietnam, a fast-growing and competitive economy whose bilateral trade with the EU has quintupled over the past ten years, is equally keen on the deal, which according to the European Commission could potentially boost its GDP by 15%.’ (*)

Despite being 70 years since the UDHR was signed, human rights has taken a step back and our presence is still required to advocate for simple improvements in human rights. However, in each of my meetings this week, I was reminded how small of a fish we really are, in this huge ocean of diplomacy, trade deals, and agreements. We can talk for hours about the worsening human rights situation in Vietnam, and the staggering number of human rights defenders that have been sent to prison for their peaceful civil and political rights work (165 according to https://vietnamprisoners.info). We can go on and on about how much the EVFTA is needed by the Vietnamese government, not only because it could potentially boost their GDP, but also in order to be seen as balancing the interests between Conglomerate China and the West. We could continue to stress the power the EU has in pushing for the release of political prisoners and amendment to laws that infringe upon rights such as freedom of expression, and that if the EU wants to be seen seriously, they need to secure, at the very least, these demands before an agreement is signed.

Whether our voices actually amounts to real change is the real test. At times, I really wonder whether these meetings actually make a dent in any diplomatic negotiations. Whether the voice of civil society actors can really make an impact on how a country will be in the next 5, 10, or 100 years, and whether our input can shape how human rights and civil society organisations are able to safely and freely operate in a repressive country like Vietnam. After all, my voice is literally and metaphorically so small compared to this big arena of agreements and diplomacy, how much difference would I actually be able to make?!

But in the words of Mrs. Roosevelt, ”nothing has been achieved by the person who says, ‘it can’t be done.’” It is important to hope, to fight, even in the light of despair and deterioration. And surely, it is much more intelligent to try, rather than not to try.

(*) https://www.europarl.europa.eu/legislative-train/theme-a-balanced-and-progressive-trade-policy-to-harness-globalisation/file-eu-vietnam-fta?fbclid=IwAR2jIFGYxI5BbofGhHGmuaEp-0KM2tOfWLse6l4yvPhzE-35UAG0dr9om9k

Source from Anna’s Facebook:

”Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For…

Posted by Anna Nguyen on Sunday, December 9, 2018

Joint statement on the kidnapping and detention of Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Quang A, and Bui Thi Minh Hang

The undersigned independent Vietnamese Civil Society Organizations strongly condemn the kidnapping and detention of three activists, Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Quang A, and Bui Thi Minh Hang by Vietnamese authorities on November 16, 2017.

The three activists were kidnapped right after their meeting with the European Union (EU) delegation in Hanoi. This meeting was held in preparation for the upcoming annual EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue. The EU initiated this meeting by inviting the activists to come and provide their inputs on civil society development in Vietnam. In February this year, a delegation from the European Union Parliament’ Sub-Committee on Human Rights held a similar meeting with Vietnamese civil society actors, including the said activists.

During their detention, the activists were held incommunicado, and legal assistance was not allowed.

The activists were subsequently released with activist Pham Doan Trang being the last one released at midnight. Her cellphone was seized without her consent and to date, they remain in the police’s possession.

We reiterate herein our strong condemnation of the above-described illegal conduct committed by the Vietnamese police and other involved agencies. Their action is in direct violation of Vietnamese laws and other international treaties on human rights which Vietnam is a signatory of and has ratified.

The government’s treatment of the activists, through the illegal detention and unlawful taking of their personal property, is a direct attack on independent civil society and its development in Vietnam. At the same time, these conducts show the government’s willingness to disregard the rule of law and their own laws in their attempt to suppress independent voices.

We regard these types of conduct as a direct and extremely dangerous threat to the development of not just civil society organizations, but of Vietnamese society at large.

The protection of an individual’s human rights is the protection of everyone’s rights. We call on our citizens, communities, civil society organizations, international organizations, and governments to join us in condemning these conducts. We respectfully request the European Union to bring this matter as well as other grave matters in the past to the Vietnamese government.

Last, we demand the Vietnamese authorities to immediately cease their attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, open right away an investigation into the incident as mentioned above, and announce the findings to the public as soon as possible.

Jointly signed by:

Civil Society Forum

The Independent League of Vietnamese Writers

The Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam

Le Hieu Dang Club

Phan Tay Ho Club

Van Lang Group

Bauxite Vietnam Forum

Bau Bi Tuong Than Association

Vietnam Path Movement

Vietnam UPR Working Group

Green Trees

Free Citizens Community

The Network of Vietnamese Bloggers

The Project 88

Tieng Dan Viet Media

and number of Intellectuals, Writers, Artists and Journalists within and without Vietnam

VOICE Launches Mid-term UPR Advocacy Campaign 2017

13/9/2017 – Following VOICE’s Universal Periodic Review Advocacy Campaign in 2014, a delegation advocating for human rights in Vietnam will go to Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and the Czech Republic to update United Nations bodies and relevant organizations on the progress (or lack of) the Vietnamese government has made on promoting and protecting human rights since the last review cycle in 2014, as well as to raise awareness about the human rights situation and prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.

The campaign will be launched on the birthday of imprisoned blogger, Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh (pen name Anh Ba Sam), on September 15th and will last until October 10th, 2017. The delegation consists of Ms. Le Thi Minh Ha, the wife of Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh, as well as VOICE representatives and Vietnamese human rights defenders, Ms. Anna Nguyen and Ms. Thao Dinh.

In particular, Ms. Thao Dinh will speak before the United Nations Human Rights Council (inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe) in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 19th in order to raise further attention to Vietnam’s severe human rights violations. This event will be televised live.

With assistance from the relevant international organizations, this delegation 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 to encourage the Vietnamese government to better respect and protect human rights as a state party to multiple UN human rights treaties.

For more information regarding the delegation and its activities, please contact: contact@vietnamvoice.org

The New York Times: With Social Media, Vietnam’s Dissidents Grow Bolder Despite Crackdown

HANOI, Vietnam — A prominent blogger and environmental activist in Vietnam was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison on charges of national security offenses, including sharing anti-state propaganda on social media.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, better known by her online handle Mother Mushroom, had been held incommunicado since she was arrested in October, and attendance at her trial was strictly controlled.

But barely one hour after the verdict was handed down on Thursday, one of Ms. Quynh’s lawyers summarized his arguments and posted her final statement at the trial to his 61,000 Facebook followers.

New York Times: Nhờ mạng xã hội, các nhà bất đồng chính kiến ở Việt Nam ngày càng quả cảm bất chấp các cuộc đàn áp
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, the Vietnamese blogger known as Mother Mushroom, at her trial Thursday. A lawyer posted a statement from her on Facebook. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I hope that everyone will speak up and fight, overcome their own fears to build a better country,” she said, according to the lawyer. The statement was reposted thousands of times.

In authoritarian Vietnam, the internet has become the de facto forum for the country’s growing number of dissenting voices. Facebook connections in particular have mobilized opposition to government policies; they played a key role in mass protests against the state’s handling of an environmental disaster last year. Now, the government is tightening its grip on the internet, arresting and threatening bloggers, and pressing Facebook and YouTube to censor what appears on their sites.

“Facebook is being used as an organizing tool, as a self-publishing platform, as a monitoring device for people when they are being detained and when they get released,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

Facebook is being used “to connect communities that otherwise wouldn’t be connected,” he said.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, 27, a pro-democracy activist, said the growing number of dissidents forging connections through social media had emboldened him.

The first time the police interrogated him in 2011, he said, he felt utterly alone. His parents and friends disapproved of his political writings, and he knew few other people he could turn to for help.

Mr. Tuan still faces police harassment and his passport has been confiscated. But the most recent time he was called in for questioning, he posted a copy of the summons to Facebook, along with a satirical note demanding to be paid for the time he spent in custody.

His note went viral, and other people followed suit, posting their own police summonses on Facebook and asking for compensation. “Regarding activism, I cannot feel lonely anymore,” he said.

New York Times: Nhờ mạng xã hội, các nhà bất đồng chính kiến ở Việt Nam ngày càng quả cảm bất chấp các cuộc đàn áp
Nguyen Anh Tuan, a human rights activist, said that when police interrogated him in 2011, he had no one to turn to. But now with supporters on Facebook, “I cannot feel lonely anymore,” he said. Credit Quinn Ryan Mattingly for The New York Times

Vietnam’s Facebook users — who now number 45 million, almost half the country’s population — use the site to organize prison visits and vigils outside police stations for detainees, and to solicit donations for political prisoners. And dissidents are increasingly migrating political and personal blogs, which can be easily blocked by the government, onto Facebook, which is so widely used that blocking it entirely would not be feasible.

Mr. Tuan helps run a fund that supports the families of prisoners of conscience, including Ms. Quynh’s mother and two young children. He said that much of the support now came from people inside the country sending money from their personal bank accounts, which the state can trace. In the past, he said, overseas Vietnamese communities drove most of the dissent and supplied most of the money.

“They know very well that they could be checked by the government, but they dare to do it,” he said of his local donors.

That has not gone unnoticed by the government, which is also asserting its authority in new ways. Ms. Quynh is one of over 100 bloggers and activists jailed in Vietnam, according to Human Rights Watch. Pham Minh Hoang, another popular blogger, was stripped of his citizenship and deported last week to France, where he also holds citizenship.

The government has strategically cut access to Facebook when protests are expected, and earlier this year asked both Facebook and YouTube to help it eliminate fake accounts and other “toxic” content, like anti-government material, saying it had identified up to 8,000 YouTube videos that fit that description, according to the local newspaper Tuoi Tre. The government also warned Vietnamese companies that their ads must not appear next to that sort of content.

Facebook has said its policy is to abide by local laws, although there was no indication it had removed content in Vietnam thus far.

Nguyen Quang A, a retired computer scientist and former Communist party member who is now a dissident, said he felt the human rights situation was as bad as ever.

Last week, shortly before a planned interview, he was picked up by police near his house and taken for a five-and-a-half-hour drive to the seaside and back. He said he had been similarly detained 11 other times in the past year and a half.

He suggested the government was under increasing pressure from citizens frustrated by its handling of recent environmental and land issues. When a chemical spill at the Formosa Steel company killed tons of fish last year, outrage coalesced online, where protests were organized, photographs of the disaster spread rapidly and the hashtag #Ichoosefish became a rallying cry.

“I guess that they are too afraid,” Mr. Quang A said. “They see the situation is too dangerous for them, and they see peaceful activists as a very dangerous enemy.”

In a report released last month, Human Rights Watch detailed what it called a “disturbing trend” of bloggers and activists being beaten on the street by thugs known as “con do.” It tallied 36 such attacks from January 2015 to this April, only one of which the police investigated.

New York Times: Nhờ mạng xã hội, các nhà bất đồng chính kiến ở Việt Nam ngày càng quả cảm bất chấp các cuộc đàn áp
Pham Anh Cuong, left, was alarmed by photographs online showing how brutally an activist, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, right, had been beaten by five men, prompting him to become more politically outspoken. Credit Quinn Ryan Mattingly for The New York Times

The report relies partly on the activists’ own photos and videos of their injuries, often filmed shakily on smartphones and quickly shared online.

Jonathan London, a Vietnam specialist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said that despite recent repression, the transformation wrought by the internet in a short period had been “astonishing and hopeful.”

It is “remarkable that in a country that as recently as 15 or 20 years ago had one of the lowest rates of telephone usage in the world has thrust rapidly into an era of 24-hour news and continuous social and political criticism accessible to everyone,” he said.

Pham Anh Cuong, 45, an electrical engineer, was not outspoken about politics until two years ago, when an activist he followed online, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, 43, was severely beaten by five men. Mr. Cuong saw photographs of Mr. Tuyen’s bloody face and was alarmed by the brutality of the attack.

Today, he considers himself “one who raises my voice,” if not fully a dissident. His goal is to share information with family and friends, rather than depend on the mainstream news media, which is nearly all state-owned.

“The very first time I wrote on Facebook, nobody even ‘liked’ it — they were scared of pressing the like button,” he said. “Now people are starting to like and they are starting to share as well.”

Offline, he now considers Mr. Tuyen and other dissidents friends, and several of them play together on a soccer team, the No-U FC. (“No-U” refers to a U-shaped line marking China’s bold territorial claims in the South China Sea, an issue that galvanized many Vietnamese dissidents several years ago.) A Facebook page meticulously tracks the team’s wins and losses, as well as its members’ frequent run-ins with the security police.

In a cafe in Hanoi last week, the two friends simultaneously chatted, chain-smoked and checked Facebook. They noticed a state media story criticizing Mother Mushroom for receiving a cash prize from a human rights group in Stockholm. Mr. Tuyen immediately tagged a Swedish diplomat to alert her to the piece and asked the rights group for comment.

The two began scrolling again.

“Here’s news from one of my friends, a doctor in Saigon, who just heard the news that Mother Mushroom is in debt,” Mr. Tuyen said.

“The doctor in Saigon raised his voice that we should contribute to give money to her family,” he said.

He typed for a moment, then looked up again.

“I just commented, ‘I will join.’”


Civil society across Asia is flowering but fragile

The proliferation of civil society organizations (CSOs) throughout Asia is having a significant impact on relations between the state and citizens, on the institutions of the state and on prevailing norms and values. At a recent conference organized by Akihiro Ogawa, professor of Japanese studies at the University of Melbourne, scholars from around the region gathered to assess civil society and the forces that support and threaten it. This gathering testifies to the expansion and deepening of civil society across Asia. While the flowering of civil society across the region is undeniable, the gains that have been made are fragile.

In recent decades the range of Asian CSOs has expanded rapidly, and their concerns now run the gamut from welfare, the environment, refugees, legal services and gender to counseling, trafficking, entrepreneurship, education and beyond. Most of these nongovernmental groups are small, understaffed and underfunded, but they persist because they must, and draw on the passion of the committed. There is no shortage of needs and public demands for the various activities CSOs engage in, yet they are also constrained by regulatory hurdles and wary, intolerant governments.

From Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka to Cambodia and Vietnam, illiberal democracies and authoritarian governments are targeting foreign funding because they suspect that CSOs are agents of globalization spreading Western values, ideologies and practices. These suspicions are fueled by concerns that CSOs are undermining and discrediting the state by engaging in advocacy for people and causes that have been marginalized and mistreated — for example, to further human rights, and on behalf of LGBT people or ethnic and religious minorities. By empowering people, CSOs challenge and subvert the state’s monopoly on power.

There are two major trends influencing the 21st century operating environment for CSOs in Asia: the spread of neoliberal economic policies and the rise and consolidation of illiberal democracies. Neoliberal economic reforms are varied, but they usually involve reducing the role of the state and cutting taxes and government budgets. The impact on vulnerable people in society can be catastrophic as programs aimed at mitigating poverty, improving living standards and addressing health and educational problems are slashed. Such reforms create a niche for CSOs as they respond to what is effectively an outsourcing of government services.

Problematically, neoliberal reforms tend to accentuate disparities and polarize society. Across the globe we are witnessing the marginalized respond to the broken promises of globalization and the gloomy omens they face. Pankaj Mishra, in “The Age of Anger: A History of the Present” (2017), captures the zeitgeist, explaining how the neoliberal democratic model is under siege because it is not delivering. The internet enables widespread awareness of what only some can attain. Envy, disappointment and anxiety are alienating even the relatively privileged in developing nations because they find limited opportunities and can only climb so high before they realize their dreams have been thwarted. It is this hothouse of discontent that fuels populist politics and breeds radicalism.

The other significant trend shaping the CSO ecosystem in Asia is the spread of authoritarian governance. Illiberal democracies such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia hold elections, often feature prolonged one-party rule and embrace the rule of law only when convenient, while drawing on authoritarian practices to ensure that democracy stays tightly tethered. Cronyism, corruption and a lack of transparency are defining features of illiberal democracy, and in this age of anger, repression is the favored means of retaining power. The grass-roots wildfire of frustration sparked by neoliberal reforms and heightened disparities have drawn illiberal political responses from the ruling classes.

There is no single model of illiberal democracy, but in general they stifle political debate, engage in media censorship, resort to intimidation and limit space for political contestation. They breed intolerance, encourage bigotry, engage in “othering” minorities and create a hostile climate for CSOs. This is because civil society groups disseminate liberal values antithetical to reactionary agendas. In Asia, the winds of illiberalism are gathering momentum, shrinking the space for CSOs to operate at a time when they are more needed than ever due to neoliberal reforms.

Illiberal democracies also encourage uncivil hatemongering groups that are often connected with powerful political forces that benefit from their activism. The rise of extremist religious organizations is a transnational phenomenon in South and Southeast Asia. Moderate religious groups appear to have lost ground to less-tolerant ones that promote religious chauvinism. These benefit from powerful political patrons who see them as weapons to sideline opponents and foster an uncivil society.

The emergence of a vibrant civil society in many Asian societies is not an onward and upward process, depending not only on sustained citizens’ support and participation but also on shifting political winds. In some cases, partnerships between the state and CSOs have flourished and they have helped mitigate socioeconomic problems. For example, in terms of natural disasters, in the 2000s CSOs have come into their own, playing an indispensable role in disaster relief and recovery and contributing significantly to promoting disaster resilience in vulnerable communities, with Japan being a prime example. Their vital role is recognized by states across the region, and as such they have gained social legitimacy.

Yet governments across Asia remain ambivalent about CSOs, seeing them as a combination of political threat, partner and talisman of globalization. This means closer government scrutiny and tighter regulatory monitoring because the state doesn’t trust them and wants to know what they are doing and at whose behest.

The political sensitivities of the authorities means there are no-go zones and taboo topics where CSOs are not welcome or can only operate under duress and within tightly circumscribed bounds. Even in authoritarian societies, CSOs manage to carve out space, but their activities and impact are limited so as to avoid undesired consequences. China, for example, is allowing environmental activism even as it incarcerates journalists, lawyers and other activists who venture into sensitive political issues involving repression, human rights, nepotism and corruption.

Even in nations like Indonesia that have navigated democratic transitions, civil society is not always what it seems, as some groups that enjoy the support of international donors are controlled by local elites representing legacy power networks antithetical to liberal agendas, thus thwarting good intentions. Existing power networks shape the operating environment across Asia, where CSOs are flexibly navigating an evolving space in which hazards and needs abound. And they need your generous support.

Jeff Kingston is the director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.

Resource: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/04/29/commentary/civil-society-across-asia-flowering-fragile/

UNDP Engagement With Civil Society

UNDP seeks to engage with civil society to promote the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Engagement with civil society is critical to national ownership of development processes, democratic governance, and the quality and relevance of official development programmes. Given the growing role and influence of civil society in development, UNDP seeks to draw on and contribute to its strengths in order to maximize the potential of civic engagement for development.

What We Do

UNDP focuses on three goals for strengthening civil society:

· First, we invest in civil society and civic engagement by facilitating an enabling environment for civil society, supporting and partnering with civil society for policy impact and revitalizing UN(DP) capacity and environment to engage with a fuller range of civil society actors that could contribute to a positive social change and foster civic engagement.

· Second, we facilitate citizen action for democratic governance and development by supporting democratic governance through collective civic action for accountability, drawing on the expertise and experience of others in this arena to facilitate more productive state-society and mutually respectful interactions in national processes; and scaling up community actions for local development and upstream impact.

· Third, we strengthen civic engagement for multilateralism and human development by promoting UNDP-civil society partnerships for human development as well as UN(DP)-civil society dialogue mechanisms at national, regional and global levels to promote inclusive participation in development processes; and facilitating multi-stakeholder platforms and networks to address global development priorities.

These goals are supported through partnerships with civil society at country offices and at the global level. UNDP engagement with civil society is guided by two policy documents: the UNDP Corporate Strategy on Civil Society and Civic Engagement (2012) and the UNDP and Civil Society Organizations: A Policy of Engagement (2001).

Why We Work With Civil Society
Civil society actors at national and global levels have developed substantive capacity and influence in a range of development issues. Partnering with them can help contribute to the effectiveness of development interventions, especially with respect to marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The success of development and participatory governance depends on both a robust state and an active civil society with healthy levels of civic engagement. Civic engagement is key to the work of UNDP in strengthening responsive governing institutions and practices – accountability, good governance, democratization of development co-operation, and the quality and relevance of official development programmes. Civil society also has an important role to play in development and aid effectiveness. It has been a strong advocate of changes in the way donors provide development assistance, and is an active partner around the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.

Many civil society organizations (CSOs) have a proven capacity for broad-based mobilization and creating bottom-up demand that fosters responsive governance. Civil society advocacy can facilitate the participation of poor and vulnerable populations in the design and implementation of development policies and programmes. This can enhance the delivery of basic social services, such as health and education. Civil society organizations also play a critical watchdog role in public life. Last but not least, members of civil society organizations volunteer their time, skills, and expertise to development.

Who We Work With

For UNDP, civil society constitutes the full range of formal and informal organizations that are outside the state and market. This includes social movements, volunteer organizations, indigenous peoples’ organizations, mass-based membership organizations, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations, as well as communities and citizens acting individually and collectively.

To foster policy dialogue with civil society, UNDP has in recent years promoted the establishment of Civil Society Advisory Committees to United Nations Country Teams as forums for strategic engagement by civil society in the work of the UN at the national level. At headquarters, the Civil Society Advisory Committee provides UNDP with policy advice.

UNDP partners with a wide cross-section of local, regional and global CSOs in programme implementation and policy advocacy. At the country level, this often means working with them to provide basic services in the areas of health, education, water delivery, agricultural extension and micro-credit provision.

In addition, recognizing that CSOs often serve as both a driving force in guiding development policies and as a watchdog to make sure policies get implemented, UNDP facilitates civil society participation in poverty reduction strategy processes, advocacy for the MDGs, and in advancing gender equality.

Resource: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/funding/partners/civil_society_organizations.html

Tình hình tự do báo chí đang xấu đi trên toàn cầu

Hai phần ba trong số 180 nước được Tổ chức Phóng Viên Không Biên Giới khảo sát có tình trạng đàn áp tự do báo chí tệ hơn trước đây.

Báo cáo thường niên của Phóng Viên Không Biên Giới (RSF) cùng với bản Chỉ Số Tự Do Báo Chí Thế Giới năm 2017 (2017 World Press Freedom Index) cho thấy một bức tranh ảm đạm về tình hình tự do báo chí trên thế giới, nhất là tại những nước có chế độ độc tài đảng trị, quân phiệt hay tôn giáo cuồng tín.

Năm năm trở lại đây, các vụ vi phạm quyền tự do báo chí của các chính quyền trên thế giới tăng 14%. Bản báo cáo viết: “Chưa bao giờ thấy Quyền tự do báo chí trên thế giới bị đe dọa như hiện nay”.

Tự do báo chí đang trong tình trạng “khó khăn” (màu đỏ) và “nguy ngập” (màu đen) tại 72/180 quốc gia, bao chùm Trung Quốc, Nga, Ân Độ, hầu như toàn bộ Trung Đông, Trung Á và Trung Mỹ và hai phần ba châu Phi. Báo chí chỉ được tự do tại khoảng 50 nước ở Bắc Mỹ, châu Âu, Úc, Nam Phi.

Mười vị trí đội sổ tự do báo chí thế giới gồm: Lào, Guinea, Djibouti, Cuba, Sudan, Việt Nam, Trung Quốc, Syria, Turkmenistan, Entrea, Triều Tiên.

Còn 10 nước đứng đầu là: Na Uy, Thụy Điển, Phần Lan, Đan Mạch, Netherland, Costa Rica, Thụy Sĩ, Jamaica, Bỉ, Iceland.

Trong báo cáo này, Việt Nam vẫn giữ thứ hạng 175/180 như năm 2016. Đầu năm 2017, tổ chức Bảo Vệ Ký Giả Quốc Tế (CPJ) ở New York tố cáo Việt Nam là nước bỏ tù nhiều người nhất ở Ðông Nam Á chỉ vì họ dùng internet để bày tỏ quan điểm ngược với chính sách của đảng cộng sản.

Theo CPJ, Hà Nội đang bỏ tù nhiều người cầm bút như Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức, Ðặng Xuân Diệu, Anh Ba Sàm Nguyễn Hữu Vinh, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh… Tuy nhiên không thấy CPJ nêu tên Luật Sư Nguyễn Văn Đài, bị bắt từ tháng Mười Hai 2015 đến nay.

Tình hình tự do báo chí đang xấu đi trên toàn cầu
Tình hình tự do báo chí đang xấu đi trên toàn cầu

Từ sau khi bắt Mẹ Nấm và Hồ Hải vào tháng 11/2016, công an Việt Nam còn bắt giữ thêm khoảng 7 nhà bất đồng chính kiến nữa như: Lưu Văn Vịnh, Nguyễn Văn Đức Độ, Nguyễn Danh Dũng, Vũ Quang Thuận, Nguyễn Văn Điển, Bùi Hiếu Võ, và Phan Kim Khánh, với những cáo buộc theo Luật Hình sự Việt Nam như “Âm mưu lật đổ”, “phát tán thông tin độc hại”.

Tháng 11/2016, RSF liệt kê Tổng Bí thư Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam, ông Nguyễn Phú Trọng vào danh sách “kẻ thù của tự do truyền thông” trên thế giới, cùng 34 người khác là lãnh đạo một số nước, chính khách, lãnh tụ tôn giáo.

“Giáo dục không phải là đặc ân của Chính phủ”

“Quyền được giáo dục khơi mở tất cả các quyền, do đó, dân chúng cần phải được giáo dục để biết quyền lợi của mình”, Giám đốc phụ trách Nhân Quyền tại Ủy ban Nhân quyền và Hành chính Tư pháp (CHRAJ), Tiến sĩ Isaac Annan, cho biết.

Tiến sĩ Annan đề cập đến điều này tại lễ khai mạc Nhân quyền Ghana kéo dài hai ngày, quy tụ các tổ chức dân sự xã hội (CSOs), các tổ chức phi chính phủ (NGO), các tổ chức chính phủ và đại diện Liên Hiệp Quốc.

Trách nhiệm giải trình

Tiến sĩ Annan lưu ý rằng các tổ chức xã hội dân sự và phi chính phủ cần đòi hỏi trách nhiệm giải trình từ các tổ chức Chính phủ để có thể làm việc một cách hiệu quả hơn.

“Khi chúng ta nói về một sự quản lý tốt, thì chúng ta cần phải có những hoạt động, liên kết và cũng như lượng thông tin đầy đủ, nó sẽ là một yếu tố gây áp lực lên chính phủ”, ông nói.

Ông lưu ý rằng sự miễn phí trong giáo dục từ phía Chính phủ “không phải là một đặc ân, mà là một quyền con người được ghi nhận trong hiến pháp”.

“Quyền được giáo dục khơi mở tất cả các quyền, do đó, dân chúng cần phải được giáo dục để biết quyền lợi của mình”, ông nói.

Trao quyền

Thứ trưởng Bộ giới tính, Trẻ em và Bảo trợ xã hội, bà Gifty Twum-Ampofo, nhắc lại rằng các CSO nên hoạt động sôi nổi hơn bằng cách đảm bảo rằng các chính sách nhân quyền không chỉ được thực hiện mà còn phải được thực thi theo hướng, sử dụng lá phiếu để gây áp lực cho các chính trị gia.

“Xã hội dân sự cần gần gũi hơn với người dân và nói mọi thứ theo một cách khác với cách mà các chính trị gia tìm kiếm để liên kết với một đảng chính trị.” bà nói.

Định kỳ toàn cầu

Giám đốc Điều hành của tổ chức Perfector of Sentiments (POS) Foundation, ông Jonathan Osei Owusu, giải thích rằng hội thảo về nhân quyền đã quy tụ các tổ chức XHDS để thảo một báo cáo Kiểm điểm Định kỳ Phổ quát tại Hội đồng Nhân quyền (UPR) của Hội đồng Liên Hợp Quốc.

“Sự tham gia của các tổ chức XHDS trong UPR là để tăng cường phát triển tập thể.”

Ông lấy Việt Nam ra làm ví dụ cho cái gọi là sự lơ là về mặt Kiểm điểm Định kỳ Phổ quát tại Hội đồng Nhân quyền (UPR).

“Mặc dù chính phủ Việt Nam cam kết thúc đẩy nhân quyền, nhưng các CSO và các phương tiện truyền thông được coi là cánh tay thứ tư của chính phủ trong thập kỷ qua đã không tích cực và chặt chẽ tham gia một cách thực chất về mặt nhân quyền,”ông đã giải thích.

Ông nhấn mạnh rằng sau khi các báo cáo, Chính phủ Việt Nam vẫn chưa hoàn tất một số kiến nghị.

Ông Owusu, Phó Chủ tịch Diễn đàn Nhân quyền NGO, lưu ý rằng có sự cần thiết trong giáo dục người dân về quyền lợi của mình và kêu gọi các tổ chức XHDS đóng một vai trò quan trọng của việc đảm bảo rằng điều này sẽ đạt được.

Thụy Nghiêng (#XHDS)

Theo Ghanaiantimes

Vietnam’s Quiet Human Rights Crisis

A dearth of coverage, competing global interests, and an omnipresent police state render violations largely unnoticed.

Nguyen Chi Tuyen, a 43-year-old from Hanoi, was driving home after dropping his son off at school when he was attacked by thugs.

Tuyen, a dissident blogger who makes his living translating books into Vietnamese at a local publishing house, said around half a dozen men in plainclothes forced him off his motorbike before beating him to the ground. He didn’t know the attackers, nor did they rob him.

“At least two motorbikes stopped me on the way, one just before and one behind my back, and I heard one man say, ‘Ah! It’s him!’” said Tuyen, whose pen name is Anh Chi, describing the May 2015 incident.

While Tuyen was never able to confirm the attackers’ identity, he has no doubt that they were working for the government.

“We know they were organized by the security forces,” he said.

Rights monitors say Tuyen’s story is par the course within Vietnam’s secretive single party communist state. According to most metrics commonly used to measure level of human rights abuses, Vietnam boasts one of the world’s most authoritarian police states. But activists say that far too little attention is paid to Vietnam even as other Southeast Asian countries are routinely condemned by the international community.

“It’s quite clear that Vietnam is getting much more of a free pass on human rights than their poor record deserves, partly because of the government’s resilience and willingness to push back on international criticism,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

Khủng hoảng nhân quyền trong thầm lặng tại Việt Nam

Dissident blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen, 43, known in Vietnam by his pen name Anh Chi, at a Hanoi coffee shop July 2016. Photo by Aleksandra Arefieva.

Amnesty International counted 91 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam in its 2016 yearly report, the highest number in Southeast Asia, while eight of the 13 journalists imprisoned in the region are in Vietnam, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The local press and civil society, which virtually never strays from the party line, brands dissidents as “reactionaries.” Foreign correspondents, who are required by law to be based in Hanoi, have their movements and reporting closely tracked.

“Vietnam makes it hard to follow cases of dissidents facing repression, keeps its proceedings in courts and treatment in prisons as secret as possible, and restricts its media,” said Robertson.

“So it’s not surprising that there is comparatively less news of such abuses than bodies turning up every day on the streets in Duterte’s Philippines,” he said, referring to referring to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

Systematically Snubbed

Dao Thi Huong, 30, lives the cosmopolitan white collar lifestyle unheard of in northern Vietnam before the 1990s. A financial modeler for a Singaporean firm, she was of the first generation of Hanoians to have a shot at a middle-class existence following centuries of dynastic cycles, French colonialism, and hardline Marxist-Leninism.

Although a beneficiary of the recent economic boom fostered by the Communist Party, Huong has decided that multiparty democracy is the way forward.

“Five years ago, I believed in communism, I believed in the government, and Uncle Ho,” said Huong, referring to modern Vietnam’s revolutionary founder Ho Chi Minh, at an upscale coffee shop near Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem lake.

The arrest of dissident lawyer Le Quoc Quan in 2012, who served 30 months in prison on a tax evasion conviction that his supporters argue was politically motivated, changed her mind.

“People kept talking about him, and I realized he was not as bad as what the newspapers said about him, and I started thinking about why the government hides the information from the citizens?”

Khủng hoảng nhân quyền trong thầm lặng tại Việt Nam

Dao Thi Huong, 30, holding a sign of imprisoned blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh, better known as Anh Ba Sam, at a small protest outside a Hanoi courthouse on the day of his trial, March 23, 2016. Photograph by Bennett Murray

Huong calls herself as a “half activist,” a fellow traveler of the dissident cause who shows up at Hanoi’s rare public demonstrations, which get quickly shut down by police.

Despite her small role in the movement, police were quick to make a house call to her parents as she started to become a familiar face at protests.

“They came to my family and said something was wrong about me,” she said, adding that such methods were often effective at convincing even the smallest activists to get back in line.

Had her employer not been based in Singapore, Huong said the police would have likely put pressure on her boss to discipline her at work.

When harassment doesn’t approve effective, authorities use penal code provisions that broadly criminalize “conducting propaganda” against the state and “abusing democratic freedoms.” Blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh, better known as Anh Ba Sam, is serving five years in prison for his dissident website, while Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who blogged under the pen name Mother Mushroom, awaits trial following her October arrest.

Can Thi Theu, a farmer who since 2008 has been fighting forced evictions in her neighborhood on the outskirts of Hanoi, is serving a 20 month prison sentence for “disrupting public order” at protests. It is her second prison sentence for activism. Her husband, Trinh Ba Tu, has also served time.

“The government used all of the police, the court, anything they have, and they accuse my mother of any crime they want,” said Trinh Ba Phuong, Theu’s 32-year-old son.

“I’m not afraid of anything, because I have support from many villagers, and my parents suffer from the hard verdict from the court, and I’m ready to sacrifice to anything that can help my community, my neighbors, the farmers who lost the land to the government,” he said.

Khủng hoảng nhân quyền trong thầm lặng tại Việt Nam

Trinh Ba Phuong, 32, son of jailed land activist Can Thi Theu, at a Hanoi restaurant February 2017. Photo by Aleksandra Arefieva.

Why the Apathy?

Vietnam’s recent history has catapulted the nation from international pariah fighting against the United States to an important strategic partner of the West. Economic opportunities abound in one of the world’s fastest growing economies, while politicians from Washington to Tokyo also see Hanoi as a potential ally in the South China Sea disputes.

U.S. President Donald Trump has apparently been friendly with Hanoi. According to the Vietnamese government, he had an amiable phone conversation with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in December. In a letter dated February 23, Trump also wrote to President Tran Dai Quang urging cooperation to “ensure peace and prosperity in Asia-Pacific on the basis of international law.”

“Now with Trump in charge, our worry is human rights concerns in Vietnam will be diminished even further,” said Roberston.

Yet concerns of American apathy toward the Vietnamese dissident movement predate the Trump administration. Musician and activist Mai Khoi said her May 2016 meeting with President Barack Obama in Hanoi left her with mixed impressions.

Once one of Vietnam’s most famous pop stars – she was the 2010 winner of Vietnam Television’s Album of the Year award – her quashed attempt to run for parliament in 2016 as an independent candidate rendered her a pariah in the Vietnamese entertainment industry.

“I think the fact that President Obama met me was symbolically very important,” she said, adding that the former president extended a planned 20-minute meeting to a full hour. “Unfortunately, promoting human rights never seems to be the top priority of foreign governments engaging with Vietnam,” she added.

Four police officers came to her house the day after the meeting in what she said was an attempt to intimidate her. “It was then I realized that I have no guaranteed rights in Vietnam, not even after meeting with the most powerful person in the world.”

Foreign governments, said Robertson, only provide a limited amount of support as they pursue their national interests.

“Various governments say that they conduct private, behind closed doors, advocacy on rights with Hanoi, but what we hear time and time again from dissidents is the people of Vietnam really want stronger public affirmations by other governments that Vietnam must respect rights,” he said.

The European Union concluded a free trade agreement with the government with Vietnam in 2015. However, the chair of European Parliament‘s human rights subcommittee, Pier Antonio Panzeri, said at a February press conference in Hanoi that it will be “extremely hard” for the treaty to be ratified without improvements in human rights.

The local United Nations offices, say local dissidents, are even less helpful.

“I would say that the UN in Vietnam is very active when it comes to the less sensitive issues, for example HIV prevention, but when it comes to political rights, for example freedom of expressions, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, they are less active,” said Nguyen Anh Tuan, a 27-year-old Hanoi activist.

Tuan’s unregistered NGO, Voice, aims to indirectly challenge the party by educating youth in the ways of independent civil society. But under Vietnamese law, all social organizations, from sports teams to churches, must be member groups of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front (VFF), an umbrella organization controlled by the party. As non-communist controlled organizations are effectively outlawed, UN regulations prevent its agencies from working with dissident groups.

Sunita Giri, head of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Hanoi, acknowledged that their operations must be in line with Vietnamese law.

“The UN does work with registered civil society organizations, and for any financial transactions or partnerships ensures that a beneficiary organization is registered and is in compliance with national law,” she said, adding that the UN “works with all stakeholders in Vietnam”.

But the legal limitations, according to dissidents, renders the U.N. ineffective in tackling human rights.

The blogger Tuyen said that while he has met with visiting officials from the Bangkok branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (it has no Hanoi office), the local UN agencies are of no help.

“The offices in Hanoi, they have another mission, they don’t pay attention to human rights or democracy,” said Tuyen.

On Their Own

With the Vietnamese government’s single party rule effectively normalized in the global arena, activists agree that they are on their own to bring about a multi-party democracy.

“I always tell my colleagues, we appreciate the support of the outside, but we cannot rely on the support of the international [community],” said Nguyen Quang A.

A retired businessman turned dissident, Quang A, 71, is among Vietnam’s most prolific activists. In 2016, he was a finalist for the Netherland’s Human Rights Tulip award. Like the singer Mai Khoi, he also attempted to run for parliament in the 2016 elections. While he welcomes support from abroad, Quang A said he understands the complicated geopolitics that prevent a full-scale endorsement of his cause.

“It depends on the political mood of the big guy over there,” he said, jokingly referring to Trump.

Quang A said he was understanding of Trump’s “America first” stance. “You can see a network in the West of so many interests, and they have to serve their interests first, and that is understandable,” he said.

Yun Sun, a senior associate with the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington D.C., said that it’s inaccurate to say that America hasn’t exerted any pressure. To some extent, she said, Hanoi has been responsive.

“This is a case where Vietnam’s strategic interests and national security vis-a-vis China in the South China Sea runs into conflict with the CPV’s [Communist Party of Vietnam’s] political interests to maintain the one-party authoritarian government in the country,” she said.

Vietnam has granted some human rights concessions in recent years. LGBT rights are increasingly recognized by the state, and a 2016 law affirmed freedom of religion. The government even agreed to independent labor unions when it signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, although the the treaty’s rejection by the Trump administration makes the reforms unlikely in the near future.

Tuan, the civil society organizer, said the future of Vietnamese activism would come from within.

“I know [foreign governments] try to put the pressure on the Vietnamese government, but it’s not easy to deal with the Vietnamese government and they are good at dealing with the international actors,” he said.

But any logistical or technical help for civil society organizers, he said, would be much appreciated.

“They should focus on domestic pressure, civil society underground on the grass root level. At first they can’t provide support directly, but they can provide more training, more events, seminars, and workshops to make Vietnam more international,” he said.

Representatives from the Vietnamese government didn’t comment in time for publication.

Resource: http://thediplomat.com/2017/04/vietnams-quiet-human-rights-crisis/

Blogger Mẹ Nấm – người luôn vắng mặt khi được quốc tế vinh danh

Giải Phụ nữ Can đảm Quốc tế của Bộ Ngoại Giao Hoa Kỳ năm nay vừa vinh danh 13 người phụ nữ hoạt động vì quyền con người từ nhiều nước trên thế giới, trong đó có Blogger Mẹ Nấm hay Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh của Việt Nam.

Phụ nữ Can đảm Quốc tế

Từ năm 2007, cùng với Giải Phụ nữ Can đảm Quốc tế (International Women of Courage Award), Ngoại trưởng Mỹ đã tôn vinh nhiều phụ nữ trên toàn cầu, những người đã thể hiện lòng dũng cảm và khả năng lãnh đạo trong các nỗ lực vận động cho nhân quyền, bình đẳng giới và quyền phụ nữ. Giải này đặc biệt vinh danh những phụ nữ từng bị tống giam, tra tấn, bị đe dọa tới tính mạng hoặc chịu tổn thương nghiêm trọng vì đã đứng lên đấu tranh cho công lý, nhân quyền và pháp trị.

Trong thông báo của Đại sứ Hoa Kỳ tại Việt Nam có đoạn: “Vào ngày 29/3, Bộ Ngoại giao Hoa Kỳ sẽ vinh danh bà Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh với Giải Phụ nữ Can đảm Quốc tế của Bộ Ngoại giao Hoa Kỳ vì sự can trường của bà trong cuộc đấu tranh cho các vấn đề xã hội dân sự, vì đã truyền cảm hứng cho những thay đổi ôn hòa, kêu gọi một hệ thống chính quyền minh bạch hơn, cổ vũ cho hoà bình, công lý và quyền con người, và là tiếng nói đại diện cho quyền tự do ngôn luận.”

Tạ Phong Tần, một cựu tù nhân lương tâm nổi tiếng, từng được vinh danh trong Giải này năm 2013 khi bà đang chịu án tù 10 năm tại Việt Nam vì tội danh “tuyên truyền chống nhà nước”.

Người luôn vắng mặt

Blogger Mẹ Nấm gây chú ý trong giải thưởng năm nay, không chỉ bởi chị là người nhận giải duy nhất vắng mặt tại buổi lễ mà còn là người duy nhất đang bị giam cầm.

Blogger Mẹ Nấm – người luôn vắng mặt khi được quốc tế vinh danh
Blogger Mẹ Nấm bị bắt tháng 10 năm 2016

Tháng 10 năm 2016, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh bị công an Khánh Hòa bắt với cáo buộc “tuyên truyền chống phá nhà nước” theo Điều 88, Bộ Luật Hình sự Việt Nam. Trong khi những ‘chứng cứ phạm tội’ thu giữ tại nhà chị chỉ là những biểu ngữ như “Cá cần nước sạch, Nước cần minh bạch”, “Khởi tố Formosa”, các khẩu hiệu chống Trung Quốc xâm lược, cùng tập hồ sơ với dữ liệu về 31 người chết trong khi bị công an giam giữ được tổng hợp từ báo chí nhà nước.

Năm 2015, chị Quỳnh là phụ nữ Châu Á đầu tiên được nhận giải thưởng Người bảo vệ Dân quyền của tổ chức Civil Rights Defenders có trụ sở tại Thụy Điển. Tuy nhiên do bị cấm xuất cảnh chị cũng chỉ có thể nhận giải thưởng “từ xa”.

Năm 2010, Mẹ Nấm được tổ chức Human Rights Watch trao giải thưởng Hellman/Hammett nhằm tôn vinh lòng can đảm trong các nỗ lực bảo vệ nhân quyền.

Mẹ của bé Nấm

Chị Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, bút danh Mẹ Nấm, sinh năm 1979, quê ở Nha Trang – Khánh Hòa.

Chị Quỳnh dùng truyền thông xã hội để phản đối bất công, tham nhũng, và vi phạm nhân quyền tại Việt Nam, đấu tranh cho những người không có tiếng nói trong xã hội… qua những bài viết blog từ năm 2006. Chị bị bắt giữ nhiều lần từ 2009 – 2016 liên quan đến các hoạt động vừa nêu, lần gần đây nhất là từ tháng 10/2016 cho đến nay.

Từ ngày chị Quỳnh bị bắt đi, những người trong gia đình luôn phải sống trong một nỗi sợ hãi, thấp thỏm. Hai con của chị, bé Nấm trở nên lầm lũi ít nói, còn bé Gấu liên tục khóc đòi mẹ và giục bà gọi mẹ về. “Cuộc sống của chúng tôi thật sự khó khăn và bị đe dọa khi thiếu vắng Quỳnh,” bà Lan, mẹ của chị Quỳnh, chia sẻ.

Blogger Mẹ Nấm – người luôn vắng mặt khi được quốc tế vinh danh
Mẹ già và hai con nhỏ của chị Quỳnh

Bà Lan cho rằng con bà vô tội nếu sống trong một quốc gia tự do, nhân quyền được tôn trọng. Và đối với bà, đó cũng chính là ý nghĩa cốt lõi của Giải Phụ nữ Can đảm Quốc tế mà Bộ Ngoại giao Mỹ trao tặng con gái bà năm nay. Theo trao đổi của bà với Đài VOA.

Giám đốc điều hành tổ chức VOICE Luật sư Trịnh Hội cảm thấy vui khi hay tin Mẹ Nấm nhận được giải thưởng từ Bộ ngoại giao Hoa Kỳ tuy nhiên “điều đó chỉ nói lên một sự thật đó là còn quá nhiều sự bất công, đàn áp nhân quyền ở Việt Nam”. “Mỗi người trong chúng ta cần phải cố gắng nhiều hơn nữa trong công việc tranh đấu cho những tù nhân lương tâm của Việt Nam trong đó có Mẹ Nấm” ông nói thêm.

VOICE đã có dịp quen biết và làm việc với Blogger Mẹ Nấm trước khi chị bị bắt. Hiện nay, VOICE vẫn tiếp tục vận động với các giới chức và tổ chức quốc tế để nhiều người biết hơn về việc làm của chị. Cũng như giúp đỡ cho gia đình của chị, đặc biệt là hai bé Nấm và Gấu tuổi còn quá nhỏ mà đã phải sống xa mẹ, không được gặp mẹ từ lúc mẹ bị bắt.

Thư ngỏ quốc tế đòi tự do cho blogger Anh Ba Sàm

Ngày 6 tháng 3 năm 2017, tổ chức PEN America đưa lên website của mình một lá thư ngỏ kêu gọi cộng đồng ký tên để đòi trả tự do cho blogger Anh Ba Sàm và người cộng sự Nguyễn Thị Minh Thúy.

Những người tham gia ký tên sẽ đồng thời gửi lá thư đến ba địa chỉ: ông Lê Minh Trí, Viện trưởng Viện kiểm sát nhân dân tối cao; ông Lê Thành Long, Bộ trưởng tư pháp; và Chủ tịch Quốc hội Việt Nam bà Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân.

Nội dung bức thư thể hiện sự quan ngại về kết quả phiên tòa xét xử blogger Nguyễn Hữu Vinh và người cộng sự hồi năm ngoái, cũng như đề nghị những người nhận thư kháng cáo trên phải lên tòa án tối cao để xóa bản án.

Thư ngỏ quốc tế đòi tự do cho blogger anh Ba Sàm Nguyễn Hữu Vinh
Thư ngỏ quốc tế đòi tự do cho blogger anh Ba Sàm Nguyễn Hữu Vinh

Tháng này cách đây một năm, trong phiên tòa xử tại tòa án nhân dân Hà Nội, ông Nguyễn Hữu Vinh đã phải nhận bản án 5 năm tù giam còn cô Nguyễn Thị Minh Thúy phải ngồi tù với bản án 3 năm vì tội lợi dụng các quyền tự do, dân chủ xâm phạm lợi ích của nhà nước theo điều 258 (b) Bộ luật hình sự. Tổ chức PEN America cho rằng hai tù nhân lương tâm đã bị kết án chỉ vì thực hiện các quyền tự do biểu đạt ý kiến theo Tuyên bố chung về Nhân quyền và Công ước quốc tế về các quyền dân sự và chính trị mà Việt Nam đã tham gia. Đây cũng là quyền đã được hiến định cho công dân trong Hiến pháp Việt Nam.

PEN America là thành viên của International PEN (Văn bút quốc tế), Hiệp hội các nhà văn được thành lập năm 1921 ở Anh Quốc. Mục tiêu của hội này nhằm thúc đẩy tình hữu nghị và sự hợp tác trí tuệ giữa các nhà văn khắp nơi trên thế giới. Ngoài ra hội này cũng nhấn mạnh vai trò của văn học trong việc phát triển sự hiểu biết lẫn nhau, đồng thời đấu tranh cho quyền tự do ngôn luận và hành động như là một tiếng nói mạnh mẽ đại diện cho các nhà văn bị sách nhiễu cầm tù và đôi khi bị giết hại vì quan điểm của mình.

Để tham gia ký tên vào thư ngỏ, các bạn vui lòng truy cập địa chỉ này https://pen.org/open-letter-behalf-nguyen-huu-vinh-nguyen-thi-minh-thuy/

 Sau đó điền đầy đủ thông tin vào cột bên phải và nhấn nút Submit.

Thư ngỏ quốc tế đòi tự do cho blogger anh Ba Sàm Nguyễn Hữu Vinh
Thư ngỏ quốc tế đòi tự do cho blogger anh Ba Sàm Nguyễn Hữu Vinh

Thông Cáo Về Tin Đồn VOICE Là Tổ Chức Của Việt Tân

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Thời gian qua, một số cá nhân và cơ quan an ninh Việt Nam đưa tin đồn rằng VOICE là một tổ chức của đảng Việt Tân và ông Trịnh Hội, Giám đốc điều hành của VOICE, là một thành viên của Việt Tân.

Để phản hồi trước những tin đồn vô căn cứ này cũng như xác định vai trò của VOICE trong tiến trình xây dựng xã hội dân sự Việt Nam nhằm thúc đẩy và bảo vệ nhân quyền, Hội Đồng Quản Trị của VOICE xin làm rõ như sau:

1. VOICE không có mối quan hệ nào về mặt tổ chức với Việt Tân hay bất kỳ đảng phái chính trị nào khác trong quá khứ cũng như hiện tại. VOICE là một tổ chức phi chính phủ, phi lợi nhuận và hoàn toàn độc lập, được đăng ký tại tiểu bang California theo quy chế 501(c)(3) của pháp luật Hoa Kỳ vốn không cho phép việc tham gia các hoạt động chính trị đảng phái.

2. Không có thành viên Hội Đồng Quản Trị nào của VOICE hiện nay, bao gồm cả Giám đốc điều hành Trịnh Hội, là thành viên của Việt Tân hay của bất kỳ đảng phái chính trị Việt Nam nào khác, trong quá khứ cũng như hiện tại.

3. Việc ông Hoàng Tứ Duy, đảng viên kiêm phát ngôn viên của Việt Tân hiện nay, từng là thành viên Hội Đồng Quản Trị của VOICE từ năm 2007 đến năm 2010 không tạo ra mối quan hệ nào về mặt tổ chức giữa VOICE và Việt Tân. Ông Hoàng Tứ Duy tham gia Hội Đồng Quản Trị của VOICE khi đó với tư cách cá nhân, không phải với tư cách đại diện của Việt Tân.

Tuyên bố này không đồng nghĩa với việc VOICE chống lại bất kỳ đảng phái chính trị nào. VOICE tái khẳng định lập trường ủng hộ một nền dân chủ cho Việt Nam với sự tham gia mạnh mẽ và hiệu quả của người dân, trong đó có các đảng phái chính trị, vốn là điều kiện để phát triển một xã hội dân sự lành mạnh.

Các thành viên Hội đồng quản trị của VOICE (đã ký):

Chủ tịch: Đoàn Việt Trung
Thành viên: Jaclyn Fabre/Maxwell Vo/Jessica Soto/Trịnh Hội

— Hết thông cáo —

Joint Statement Calling for the Release of Vietnamese Activists: Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha

On 16 December 2015, prominent human rights lawyer, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, 46, and his colleague, Ms. Le Thu Ha, 33, were arrested at their home and office in Hanoi, Vietnam, respectively. Both have been charged with “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, a law that has been routinely and arbitrarily invoked by the government to suppress critical voices.

Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le are being held in B14 prison in Hanoi. Requests by activists to visit them have been rejected and there are concerns that they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. If convicted, Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le could face up to 20 years in prison.

We appeal to the Vietnamese government to honor its international and domestic obligations and to release Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le immediately and unconditionally.

We also call on the international community to act and put pressure on the Vietnamese government regarding these cases which have a severe chilling effect on freedom of expression in Vietnam.

During Mr. Nguyen’s arrest, his home was searched thoroughly by approximately 20 police officers. His laptops, bank documents and many other personal items were confiscated, while his apartment remains under tight surveillance.

Mr. Nguyen is a well-known peaceful campaigner for a multi-party democracy and the protection of human rights in Vietnam. He has devoted his life to providing legal assistance to the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society.

Mr. Nguyen has repeatedly been subjected to unwarranted persecution for undertaking his legitimate work. In 2007, he was convicted under Article 88 of the Penal Code (employing propaganda against the state) and sentenced to 4 years in prison and placed under 4 years of house arrest. At the time, he had been holding seminars to teach students about the fundamentals of a free society and the rule of law.

Activist Le Thu Ha

Since Mr. Nguyen’s release from prison in 2011, he had been subjected to countless incidents of harassment and surveillance by police officers. He was still recovering from injuries sustained from a vicious assault by masked assailants on 6 December 2015, after he had attended a meeting to mark International Human Rights Day. He was badly beaten, robbed and thrown on the street.

Vietnam has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR), which protects the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Article 19), and the right to liberty and security of a person, which includes the right to not be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention (Article 9).

The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers specifically affirm that lawyers are “entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly” and that, “they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights”. The Basic Principles also set out a number of guarantees to ensure that lawyers are able to fulfill their professional roles without undue interference.

Furthermore, Vietnam’s Constitution protects the right to freedom of opinion and speech (Article 25) and guarantees that no citizen may be arrested without a warrant and that the arrest and detention must be in accordance with the law (Article 20).

We therefore strongly urge the Vietnamese authorities to comply with Vietnam’s human rights obligations, and drop all charges against Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le, who have been peacefully carrying out activities to promote and protect human rights.

We further urge the international community to strongly intervene at the highest possible levels to support the expeditious release of both human rights defenders.


  1. Amnesty International – ENGLAND
  2. Christian Solidarity Worldwide – ENGLAND
  3. Front Line Defenders – IRELAND
  4. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation – SOUTH AFRICA
  5. Civil Rights Defenders – SWEDEN
  6. International Service for Human Rights – SWITZERLAND
  7. International Commission of Jurists – SWITZERLAND
  8. Freedom House – USA
  9. Human Rights Foundation – USA
  10. Humanitarian China – USA
  11. National Congress of Vietnamese Americans – USA
  12. People In Need – CZECH REPUBLIC
  13. Van Lang – CZECH REPUBLIC
  14. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) – THAILAND
  15. Foundation for Community Educational Media – THAILAND
  17. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) – INDONESIA
  18. The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) – INDONESIA
  19. Legal Aid Center for the Press (LBH Pers) – INDONESIA
  21. Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE) – USA, AUSTRALIA, CANADA & EUROPE
  22. Brotherhood for Democracy – VIETNAM
  23. Civil Society Forum – VIETNAM
  24. No-U Mien Trung – VIETNAM
  25. Vietnam Path Movement – VIETNAM
  26. Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association – VIETNAM

Civil Society and the TPP Negotiations

VOICE, together with civil society leaders from Vietnam, visited the Washington Post in D.C. to give their thoughts on the current situation in Vietnam and how “Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal presents both peril and opportunity.” As noted, “journalist Nguyen Van Hai, one of the political prisoners released last year after six years behind bars, told us, Vietnam’s communists also relaxed their grip a decade ago while pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization — only to crack down again when the United States and other nations moved their attention elsewhere.”

The rest of the article can be read here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-more-open-vietnam/2015/08/23/f6bff4ac-4846-11e5-8e7d-9c033e6745d8_story.html