Human Rights Recap


Greetings from The 88 Project! This week, we are bringing to you updates on prisoners of conscience Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn and Nguyễn Văn Đài, news regarding the precarious situations of Vietnamese refugees and asylum seekers, and incidents concerning violation of freedom of assembly. Please don’t forget to take action for POC Trần Thị Thúy!

Please share the link to subscribe to our newsletter with those who might find it useful! If you have questions or want to request more information on relevant topics, email us at

Click to Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Read More


Greetings from Huong, Ella, and Kaylee from The 88 Project! We are bringing to you news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the week of March 6-12, 2017. The biggest story of the week was of course International Women’s Day. We are incredibly thrilled about the particular attention given to female activists and prisoners of conscience in Vietnam from international human rights organizations, Vietnamese activists, and civil society organizations everywhere. For our part, we added our voice to those of Vietnamese female activists in demanding the right to adequate and free access to hygiene products for all female prisoners. Also in the news: protests, environmental activism, police brutality, reports from Vietnamese human rights defenders, the Vietnam Cyber Dialogue, and the second award ceremony of the League of Independent Vietnamese writers. Please do check out the Take Action section and sign PEN America’s open letter on behalf of bloggers Nguyễn Hữu Vinh and Nguyễn Thị Minh Thúy.

If you have any feedback for us or want us to include announcements and/or articles from you/your organization, please email us at To stay informed and keep the conversation going during the week, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Click to Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Read More

88-project-logoThe 88 Project, March 5, 2017: Greetings! We are excited to bring to you our very first weekly Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter, covering news and analysis regarding human rights and the development of civil society in Vietnam. Our take-away for this week: two new arrests; violence against dissidents and activists is on the rise, despite the lower number of arrests; issues of press freedom and labor rights are always matters of concern. Also, in the spirit of International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting some information on Vietnamese female activists and the political participation of women in Vietnam. Finally, yet importantly, please take some time to take action for current prisoners of conscience Đinh Nguyên Kha and Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh (Mẹ Nấm). More details and links below.

If you have any feedback for us or want us to include announcements and/or articles from you/your organization, please email us at To stay informed and keep the conversation going during the week, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Click to Subscribe to our Newsletter! Read More

In Hanoi this month, police detained ~30 people in a protest over land grabs. The entire protest drew about 100 participants and 200-300 police. Radio Free Asia notes that, “Land grabs in which government officials use their authority to confiscate and sell land to developers are a common cause of social unrest across Southeast Asia, sparking small- and-large scale protests on an almost weekly basis.” Just days before the protest, Hanoi police had participated in a public gathering “anti-terrorism” scenario.

On January 15th, Ho Thi Bich Khuong was released after serving a 5-year sentence. However, even after gaining her freedom, the government is still interfering with her human rights. The government seized her land and house. Read about her life and activism, here.

In Human Rights Watch’s recent World Report, the organization highlighted Vietnam’s changing, but ever-present, methods of cracking down on dissent.

“Vietnam tried to minimize political trails and convictions in 2015 to gain favor during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, but repression against activists remained firm, with beatings increasing. –Brad Adams, Asia director, Human Rights Watch

In 2015, attacks on activists rose, the National Assembly passed a revised penal code further targeting activists, and land grabs and civil organization repression continued. Several were arrested in 2015, including environmental protester Nguyen Viet Dung, former political prisoner Tran Anh Kim, and activists Ngueyn Van Dai, charged under Article 88, and Le Thu Ha. Several were also released, including labor activist Do Thi Minh Hanh. However, countless others remained imprisoned, including Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Bui Thi Minh Hang. Small steps of progress were made on other fronts, including criminal procedure and gender recognition. Read more from the 2015 report, here.

Additionally, Freedom House termed Vietnam as “Not Free” in its Freedom in the World 2016 report.

On the political side, Vietnam’s General Secretary has promoted one-party Communist rule over “authoritarianism disguised as democracy.” General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has been re-elected to another five-year term at the head of the Party, alongside new Prime Minister (former Deputy Prime Minister) Nguyen Xuan Phuc and new President (former Minister of Public Security) Tran Dai Quang. The Jakarta Post noted that “The party has 4.5 million members in a country of 93 million people, who have no direct say in how their leaders are elected.” With no change in leadership or the leadership structure, business-as-usual is likely, with little change in the direction of the country expected.

January 20th marked 6 years since Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was sentenced to prison under Articles 79 and 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. The blogger and entrepreneur is serving 16 years.

Other January anniversaries include the following:

On January 7, 2015, Tran Anh Kim, former military officer, was released from prison after serving 5.5 years for his pro-democracy work. However, he was re-arrested later in 2015.

Also on January 7, 2015, newspaper Nguoi Cao Tuoi had its license taken away for its coverage of corruption; the editor, Kim Quoc Hoa, has been targeted by authorities.

On January 9, 2013, fourteen bloggers, writers, and activists were convicted under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code and sentenced to between three and 13 years in prison (they were originally arrested in 2011); among those convicted were Ho Duc Hoa, Paulus Le Van Son, Dang Xuan Dieu, Nguyen Van Duyet, and Nong Hung Anh.

On January 28, 2013, the twenty-two members of a religious environmental group, arrested in February of 2012, were tried under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. They received sentences ranging from a minimum of 10 years to life in prison (for the founder).

On January 29, 2011, Pham Thanh Nghien was sentenced to four years in prison with three years of probation.

Please see our timeline for more information on arrests, trials, releases, civil organization and political events, and other human-rights related events.

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

This week, Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary makes a high-profile trip to the United States. At a meeting between Secretary Nguyen Phi Trong and President Obama earlier this week, President Obama mentioned how he’d also like to visit Vietnam. As ties between the two countries apparently continue to soften, the US must keep human rights at the center of discussions.

Human rights abuses persist in Vietnam. In June, a former prisoner of conscience (Pham Thanh Nghien) was assailed by police. Ta Phong Tan ended her hunger strike, but she remains in solitary confinement. Dieu Cay recently spoke of “prisons within prisons” within the Vietnamese system, noting the often downright cruel treatment of political prisoners at the hands of the government (read more on this:  In fact, in its recent report on Vietnam, the US State Department noted several issues in Vietnam, including limited political rights and civil liberties, as well as severe infringement upon freedom of expression and due process rights.  Read More

This past month, we celebrated World Press Freedom Day, as well as Vietnam Human Rights Day. Additionally, the US held a dialogue with Vietnam about human rights, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Vietnam. Yet, despite all of this international attention on Vietnam, attacks on activists persisted, demonstrating that the US should not send more weapons to Vietnam. Furthermore, Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Chris Smith wrote an op-ed this month for The Hill stating that Vietnam’s poor human rights should not be rewarded with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Last month, bipartisan representatives introduced a bill, the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2015, that would make certain assistance to Vietnam contingent on respect for human rights. Follow the progress of the bill, here.

Updates on Political Prisoners

Blogger Truong Duy Nhat is now free from prison. He was sentenced to two years last year under Article 258.

Kim Quoc Hoa, former editor of a newspaper, was charged under Article 258 for his work revealing corruption in one-party Vietnam. He faces a maximum of seven years in prison.

Prisoner of conscience Pham Thi Loc, arrested 2011, was released from prison, and reported back on the poor health of her cellmates, Ta Phong Tan, Can Thi Theu, and Nguyen Dang Minh Man.

Le Thi Phuong Anh, activist arrested under Article 258, was released after spending one year in prison.

May 24th marked six years since the arrest of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, businessman and activist. Individuals and NGOs alike called for his release and denounced his 16-year sentence.

On June 3rd, Ta Phong Tan’s sister became aware of Tan’s third hunger strike in prison. Tan has been on the strike since May 13th, protesting the cruel treatment of prisoners, and is reportedly in poor health.

Take Action

Take action to ask the US Embassy in Vietnam and the US State Department to inquire into Tan’s health condition and press for her release (and the release of all prisoners of conscience) and better treatment for prisoners.

Thank Reps. Lofgren, Smith, and Lowenthal for speaking up for human rights in Vietnam. You can Tweet at them @RepZoeLofgren, @RepChrisSmith, and @Rep Lowenthal. Suggested message: “Thank you for supporting #humanrights in #Vietnam. Please continue to push for release of PoCs!”

Support the Press Uncuffed campaign: spread the word, and buy a bracelet to show your solidarity with the imprisoned journalists. Ta Phong Tan is one of the journalists featured in this campaign.

Look at our Take Action page for more ideas on getting involved.