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Bùi Hiếu Võ (left) and Phan Kim Khánh (right). Source: baogiaothong.vn

Bùi Hiếu Võ (left) & Phan Kim Khánh (right) – images on the days of their arrests as published by state-owned media.

The 88 Project, March 22, 2017: Blogger Phan Kim Khánh (Phú Thọ province) was arrested on March 21 and blogger Bùi Hiếu Võ (Hồ Chí Minh City), a few days earlier, on March 17. Both were charged under Art. 88 for “propaganda against the Socialist state.”

State-owned media, citing the Ministry of Public Security, has confirmed the arrests and charges against the bloggers. Read More

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Protesters in Nghe An called for the expulsion of Formosa. The banner reads: “Guilt for Formosa. Money for Government. Disaster for the People.” Source: Vietnam Right Now

Vietnam Right Now, March 5, 2017: Protesters have staged rallies across the country to demand the expulsion of the Taiwanese company, Formosa, for causing last year’s devastating chemical spill off the central coast.

The largest demonstrations was reported in Nghe An province, where residents said several thousand people from Catholic parishes gathered after Sunday mass.

Squads of police took up positions close to the rally but did not intervene.

A crowd also gathered outside the Formosa steel plant itself, further south in Ha Tinh province, to express their anger at the handling of the toxic leak and its aftermath. Read More

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Vũ Quang Thuận (left) and Nguyễn Văn Điển (right) with a political officer of the American Embassy in Hanoi. Source: Facebook Lê Quốc Quân

The 88 Project, March 3, 2017: Vietnamese state-owned media announced the arrests of two Hanoi-based dissidents, Mr. Vũ Quang Thuận  and Mr. Nguyễn Văn Điển, for “making and distributing video clips with bad content on the Internet.” Official report did not clarify under charges they were arrested. The two may be charged under Art. 88 of the Criminal Code for “propaganda against the Socialist state.”

Both Vũ Quang Thuận (born 1966, nickname Võ Phù Đổng) and Nguyễn Văn Điển (born 1983, nickname Điển Ái Quốc) are leading members of Phong Trào Dân Tộc Chấn Hưng Nước Việt (“Vietnam Progressive Movement”), which has as its principle the motto “Democracy, Progress, Humanity, Peace.” After the arrest of a founding member of the Movement, former political prisoner Lê Thăng Long, in Vietnam in a major political crackdown in 2009, Thuận and Điển fled to Malaysia, but they were arrested, deported back to Vietnam, and detained at the Detention Center 34 in Hồ Chí Minh city. Điển was then released, but Thuận was coerced into an internment at a mental hospital in Đồng Nai. After Thuận’s discharge from the hospital (year unknown), Điển and Thuận has been continuing to work together in their advocating efforts.

The duo have been producing and running a YouTube video channel through which Vũ Quang Thuận discusses political issues, advocates for the respect of human rights and democracy. The last video series they uploaded two days ago is entitled “Guide to Lawful Protest,” which could be one of the reasons that triggered their arrests. Note that recently, there has been an appeal circulated online, allegedly from Father Thadeus Nguyễn Văn Lý, a prominent former prisoner of conscience, calling people to take to the streets every Sunday and holidays starting March 5, 2017, to protest peacefully to “regain the people’s sovereignty.”

© 2017 The 88 Project

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Activists in Hanoi meet on Feb 17 to mark the 38th military invasion of China in Vietnam’s northern region. Source: vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net

Defend the Defenders, February 17, 2017: On February 17, Vietnam’s security forces in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh violently dispersed the peaceful gatherings of local activists who want to mark the 38th anniversary of China’s invasion of the country’s six northernmost provinces.

Hundreds of after activists gathered in Ly Thai To King memorial in Hanoi and General Tran Hung Dao memorial in HCM City to commemorate the thousands of fallen soldiers and civilians killed by the People’s Liberation Army of China during the one-month military invasion which started on February 17, 1979.

Authorities in Hanoi and HCM City deployed a large number of police officers, plainclothes agents and militia to the two places. Shortly after activists came, security forces demanded them to leave the areas, saying they cause social disorders.

A number of activists, including Nguyen Thi Kim Chi in HCM City and Nguyen Xuan Dien, Nguyen Lan Thang, Bach Hong Quyen, blogger Trung Nguyen, Dang Bich Phuong and Le My Hanh were detained by police. Read More

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Source: Thuc-Followers’s Facebook page

The 88 Project, February 16, 2017: Followers of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a prominent Vietnamese political prisoner, have started two petitions on change.org to “urge VietNam Communist Party as well as the Parliament to hold a referendum for free election and on transformation to a multi-party political regime with the attendance and monitoring of the civil society groups across the nation.” The petition in Vietnamese has received 767 signatures after two weeks.

Thuc-Followers is an online community of almost 2,500 Vietnamese who agree with and follow Tran Huynh Duy Thuc‘s vision for a peaceful political change in Vietnam. This petition reflects the viewpoint that sustainable change must come from within the country, starting with giving the Vietnamese people political rights and equal participation in the political process, as individuals and as organized groups, that is, political parties and civil society organizations.

It should be noted that matters of multipartyism and free and fair elections are considered “politically sensitive” in the one-party communist regime in Vietnam. Members of opposition political parties are often the primary targets for harassment, persecution, and imprisonment by the regime’s powerful public security apparatus.

See and sign the petition in English here to support this vision of peaceful political change for Vietnam. The petition in Vietnamese can be found here. Read More

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Tran Thi Nga’s arrest on January 21, 2017. Source: VOA Tieng Viet

The 88 Project, January 23, 2017: At least four Vietnamese activists were arrested last week, just days before Tet, the Vietnamese traditional New Year. Among them are Ms. Tran Thi Nga, former political prisoner Mr. Nguyen Van Oai, Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa, and Ms. Nguyen Thi Mien.

State-owned newspapers confirmed the arrest and prosecution of Tran Thi Nga on January 21 under Art. 88 for propaganda against the socialist state, stating that: “prior to being arrested, Tran Thi Nga was accessing the Internet to upload several propaganda videos, clips, and articles against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”  Nga is a well-known figure among human rights activists in Vietnam. Read More

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Paulo, seen here with his wife (activist Trinh Kim Tien) and child, was arrested and then beaten up by unidentified men. Source: Vietnam Right Now

Vietnam Right Now, Jan. 17, 2017: It started as a class for young would-be activists eager to learn about their political rights, and ended a few weeks later with a police raid and vicious assaults on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. The violent attacks just before Christmas highlighted the perils of standing up for human rights and democratic freedoms in Vietnam’s one party state, where government critics are routinely subjected to intimidation and arrest. Doan Trang sent this report on how one group of independent minded young people incurred the wrath of the national security establishment.

When Hanah (her name has been changed to protect her identity) joined the class, she didn’t expect that a few weeks later she would be sitting in a chair being interrogated by a group of policemen and then be kicked to the ground and stomped on by a gang of toughs.

In her early twenties, Hanah came to Ho Chi Minh City from the countryside and took a job as a hairdresser’s apprentice. She saw few other prospects in the city, as she came from a poor family and had quit school at 16.

She became interested in politics and society when she joined thousands who took to the streets to demand answers over the government’s handling of a major environmental disaster off the north-central coast last April and May.

As a practicing Catholic and someone with a fast developing social conscience, she was appalled by the aggressive and brazen way in which police broke up the demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere. Read More