Vietnam’s human rights situation has worsened with the ringing in of the new year. Vietnam has continued its crackdown on citizen dissent, censoring news sources and punishing its critics. This month’s events follow record highs of arrests and detentions in 2013.
Amnesty International released a report during the first week of January that spoke of the failure of Vietnam to implement human rights recommendations. The report details that, “…despite Viet Nam’s expression of support, little has been done to implement recommendations to guarantee freedom of expression for dissidents and human rights defenders and with regard to the death penalty.”
Less than a week later, a conflict between workers and police at a Samsung factory left 13 injured, further demonstrating the escalating tensions in the nation. Violence continued on January 18th when ex-prisoners of conscience were detained and beaten while trying to visit a friend and fellow activist. Read their firsthand accounts, here.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day to celebrate peace and its legacy, Vietnamese physical violence turned into cyber-attacks. Vietnamese hackers attacked the computers of activists in both the U.S. and France. Malicious and destructive spyware programs were installed onto the computers, disrupting the activists’ work.
A day later, a Diplomat article revealed that Vietnam currently has more imprisoned journalists than Syria– 18 total, the fifth highest number in the world. The Human Rights Watch World Report 2014 brought in similarly startling numbers. It estimates that there are currently 150-200 political prisoners being held in Vietnam. The report also highlights abuses against religious groups, labor rights supporters, and ethnic groups and chronicles issues with prison treatment, media, and land rights.
However, the dismal news of January was met with hope for the future. US Representatives of both parties have joined in on an adoption campaign to use their political influence to aid in the release of political prisoners worldwide. The Reps. adopted five Vietnamese political prisoners total, tied with China and Iran for the most prisoners represented. Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California adopted Nguyen Tien Trung.
Additionally, members of the Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University signed petition cards to send to the President of Vietnam, asking for the release of Nguyen Tien Trung and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc. They also sent handwritten cards of encouragement to the prisoners and their families. In Vietnam, citizens have banded together to form The Association for Victims of Injustice in order to combat growing corruption at the hands of the one-party state.
These kinds of group and individual gestures around the world remind us that human rights abuses, the activists involved, and the perpetrators of the crimes, are not forgotten.
Follow the links within the text to read more about January’s events.