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Community Action

The media has been buzzing lately with news about Vietnam– the protests of the large-scale fish deaths, President Obama’s visit (and the question of lifting the arms ban), and the much-welcomed release of Father Nguyen Van Ly from his fourth, and hopefully final, prison sentence. We also want to make sure that news circulates about Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who is starting a hunger strike on May 24th, during the President’s visit and on the anniversary of his arrest.

Thuc, an entrepreneur and blogger, is currently serving a 16-year sentence. He is less than halfway through the sentence. On May 5, Thuc was moved from Xuyen Moc prison to Prison 6, which is located in central Vietnam. The reason for the transfer is unclear, and this means he is now further away from his family. This distancing tactic has been seen in other cases of prisoners of conscience as well.

Thuc’s family visited him at the new prison on May 14th and reported that he looked sleep-deprived and thinner. Thuc told his family that the authorities proposed to release him, but only on the condition that he be exiled in the U.S.. This was an approach also used by the authorities in the releases of Dieu Cay and Ta Phong Tan. Releases, while positive, when coupled with forced exile, further silence activist voices and give off a false international image that Vietnam is complying with international requests for improved human rights.

Thuc turned down the proposition, saying he would rather die than be exiled from Vietnam. His hunger strike aims to promote government adherence to the rule of law and the right to democratic governance by the people in Vietnam. We are deeply concerned about Thuc’s treatment in prison, as well as the health risks that a hunger strike can pose. He has committed no crime and for far too many years has awaited justice. Please take action with us, below. For more background on Thuc’s case, visit his profile.

Take Action
Send an Urgent Action, from Amnesty International, on behalf of Thuc and other imprisoned activists.
Sign a petition on change.org, set up by his family.
Tweet at President Obama, asking him to press for the release of Thuc permanently and not conditioned on exile. You can Tweet @POTUS, @BarackObama, or @State_DRL (Human Rights @ State).
Sample Message: Take action for Tran Huynh Duy Thuc on #Vietnam visit.Serving 16 years, soon to be on hunger strike. #FreeThuc.

Amnesty International has released an Urgent Action on behalf of jailed activist Bui Thi Minh Hang. The organization reports that she is suffering from several ailments including an ulcer, acute headaches, and blackouts, at times, and is being denied the medical services that she needs. A prominent land rights/human rights activist, she is serving a three-year sentence for alleged traffic obstruction. She has also been involved in peaceful protest against Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

Please call upon Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security and Minister of Foreign Affairs to give Bui Thi Minh Hang access to medical treatment and to release her from prison altogether. You can find the Urgent Action, here: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/ASA4133682016ENGLISH.pdf.

For more information on Bui Thi Minh Hang, please visit her profile: https://the88project.com/2015/06/25/profile-of-bui-thi-minh-hang/

On July 1, Le Thanh Tung, 46, was freed early from a four year sentence that he was serving under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. Tung is a journalist and former soldier and has been associated with Bloc 8406. Radio Free Asia reports that he has been detained 13 times since becoming an activist.

Some speculated that Tung’s release could be tied to the arrival of General Secretary Trong, head of Vietnam’s Communist Party, in the United States to meet with U.S. President Obama earlier this month. Tung’s release also followed the release of human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan in late June.

Many called on President Obama during his visit with Trong to address human right issues in Vietnam. The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission released the “TLHRC Co-Chairs Statement on Human Rights in Vietnam.”   Read More

We have a big thank you to send out to 15 members of Congress for their recent letter to Vietnam’s President and Prime Minister. The May 28th letter calls on Vietnam to release 28 political prisoners, highlighting in particular Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a blogger and entrepreneur currently serving a 16-year sentence under Article 88.

The members of Congress write: “Although the government of Vietnam has indicated an interest in strengthening both economic and security ties with the United States, we are concerned that the continued imprisonment of political prisoners like Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, shows a lack of commitment and respect for human rights.”

You can read the entire letter, here.

Learn more about how you can help political prisoners in Vietnam.

You can also thank these members of Congress and ask for their continued support to improve human rights in Vietnam. Below, please find a list of Twitter handles for the Members and a directory to locate a Member, their phone number, and more information about them.

Suggested Twitter Message: ” . @______ Thanks f/ supporting PoCs in #Vietnam & their #humanrights. Please continue to pressure Vietnam to make positive change.”

Suggested Phone Message: “Hello. I recently learned about the letter that you and other members of Congress sent to the Vietnamese President, asking him to respect human rights and release political prisoners, including Tran Huynh Duy Thuc. I want to thank you for your support for improved human rights in Vietnam. I urge you to continue to pressure Vietnam to protect the basic human rights of its people and to end the persecution of peaceful activists. Thank you.”

Directory of Members

Click here.

Twitter Information for Members

Zoe Lofgren (D), California, @RepZoeLofgren

Loretta Sanchez (D), California, @LorettaSanchez

Alan Lowenthal (D), California, @RepAlanLowenthal

Mike Thompson (D), California, @RepThompson

Dan Kildee (D), Michigan, @RepDanKildee

Sander Levin (D), Michigan, @repsandylevin

Chris Smith (R), New Jersey, @RepChrisSmith

Mark DeSaulnier (D), California, @RepDeSaulnier

Charles Rangel (D), New York @cbrangel

Barbara Lee (D), California, @RepBarbaraLee

Ted Lieu (D), California, @RepTedLieu

Adam B. Schiff (D), California, @RepAdamSchiff

Ed Royce (R), California, @RepEdRoyce

Judy Chu (D), California, @RepJudyChu

Anna G. Eshoo (D), California, @RepAnnaEshoo

Imprisoned blogger and former police officer, Ta Phong Tan, who is serving ten years for her peaceful activism, began a hunger strike on May 13th. We’ve recently learned that Tan ended the strike on June 4th and is reportedly no longer in a critical health condition. However, Tan remains in solitary confinement and continues to press for better treatment of prisoners. 

Thank you for taking action for Tan! We ask that you please continue to take action for her and call for her release. Learn more about Ta Phong Tan and support her through the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Press Uncuffed campaign. You can also check out our “Take Action” page for a list of ways you can support the release of political prisoners. 

The 88 Project recently learned that Ta Phong Tan, blogger and former police officer currently serving 10 years in prison under Article 88, has been on hunger strike since May 13th, 2015. Tan is protesting the cruel treatment of prisoners. Her sister visited her in prison on June 3, 2015 and reported that Tan is in poor health; this is Tan’s third hunger strike while imprisoned.

Learn more about Ta Phong Tan: https://the88project.com/2015/04/13/profile-of-ta-phong-tan/

Take action for Tan and her fellow prisoners:

1) Share this post on your social media outlets.

2) Tweet at the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Suggested message: @State_DRL #TaPhongTan on hunger strike since May 13 against harsh treatment in jail. Ask #Vietnam to respect rights of #prisoners.

3) Contact the United States Embassy in Vietnam and ask them to urgently inquire about Ta Phong Tan’s health condition, as well continue to press for the better treatment of prisoners and the release of prisoners of conscience:

+84-4-3850-5000, 7 Lang Ha Street, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Suggested message: “I recently learned that Ta Phong Tan, blogger and former police officer currently serving 10 years in prison under Article 88, has been on hunger strike since May 13th, 2015. Tan is protesting the cruel treatment of prisoners. Her sister visited her in prison on June 3, 2015 and reported that Tan is in poor health; this is Tan’s third hunger strike while imprisoned. I urge you to inquire about Ta Phong Tan’s health condition, and continue to press for the better treatment of prisoners and the release of prisoners of conscience.”

3) Contact the President of Vietnam and let him know that you oppose the cruel treatment of prisoners and the detention of peaceful activists:

President Truong Tan Sang, Office of the President, President’s Residence, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Amnesty International postcard for Ta Phong Tan, blogger serving 10 years in prison

Amnesty International postcard for Ta Phong Tan, blogger serving 10 years in prison

Birthdate: 1968

Occupation: Former police officer, blogger

Arrest Date: September 5, 2011

Trial Date: September 24, 2012

Sentence: Ten years in prison and five years of probationary detention

Ta Phong Tan is a former policewoman, a well-known blogger, and co-founder of the Free Journalist Club. She often blogged about corruption within the one party state. In 2011, she was arrested under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. Her trial was continuously delayed. On July 30, 2012, her mother, Dang Thi Kim Lieng, self-immolated in protest of Tan’s detention. Tan was tried that September, along with Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) and Phan Thanh Hai, and was sentenced to ten years in prison. Tan and her co-defendants’ appealed their verdicts and sentences, but the appeal was denied on December 28, 2012.

In 2013, Tan received the International Women of Courage award from the United States. Tan has previously fallen into ill health while in prison, where she remains today. In addition to her supporters worldwide, Tan is currently adopted under the Press Uncuffed campaign, a campaign by the Committee to Protect Journalists and the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and has also been adopted by US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX) under the Defending Freedom Project (http://democraticvoicevn.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/adopting-vietnamese-prisoners-of-conscience.pdf); Amnesty International has also been working on her behalf.

Support Ta Phong Tan, and call for her release: share this profile, and contact key players below.

1) Support Tan through the Press Uncuffed campaign: https://cpj.org/campaigns/pressuncuffed/

2) Tweet at the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Suggested message: @State_DRL #TaPhongTan, #TranHuynhDuyThuc, #BuiThiMinhHang, & others unfairly imprisoned. Call on #Vietnam to release them.

3) Contact the United States Embassy in Vietnam and ask them to press for the release of prisoners of conscience:

+84-4-3850-5000, 7 Lang Ha Street, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Suggested message: “I am concerned about the imprisonment of peaceful political activists in Vietnam, including Ta Phong Tan, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Bui Thi Minh Hang, and others. Their imprisonment goes against international human rights agreements such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as Vietnam’s obligations as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. I urge you to press for the release of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.”

3) Contact the President of Vietnam and let him know that you oppose the cruel treatment of prisoners and the detention of peaceful activists:

President Truong Tan Sang, Office of the President, President’s Residence, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi, Viet Nam