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Political Action

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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

photoAmnesty International – Urgent Action 246/16, Oct. 28, 2016: Three human rights defenders engaged in activism relating to an ecological disaster in Viet Nam are facing severe harassment, including public denunciations, prosecution and death threats. They could be arrested for “conducting propaganda” against the state.
Since the deaths of an estimated 70 tonnes of fish, shrimp, squid and other animals along a 200 kilometre stretch of the Vietnamese central-eastern coastline in April 2016, demonstrations and other activities have taken place calling for information on the cause of the disaster. After two months of speculation, at a press conference in June, the government declared that Taiwanese company Formosa Plastics Group had admitted responsibility for the serious environmental disaster and that the company had pledged to pay VND11.5 trillion (US$ 500 million) in compensation to the Vietnamese government to improve conditions in the affected provinces.
Father Đặng Hữu Nam, Nguyễn Văn Tráng and Paulus Lê Văn Sơn have been involved in organising activities calling for transparency and accountability in relation to the disaster, including compensation for those affected. Father Đặng Hữu Nam, a Catholic priest from Phú Yên parish, Vinh diocese in Nghệ An province has been helping to organize mass protests. He has also assisted with legal complaints from 506 people to Viet Nam’s authorities to claim compensation from Formosa Plastic Group company. Nguyễn Văn Tráng, a university student from Thanh Hóa province and a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, an online pro-democracy discussion group, joined a protest against Formosa on 1 May and was arrested on 7 May and again on 19 May. Paulus Lê Văn Sơn, a former prisoner of conscience and Catholic social activist and journalist, has also participated in protests over the ecological disaster calling for justice and compensation.
Amnesty International is concerned that the three men are at imminent risk of arrest under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code for “conducting propaganda” against the state. These charges provides for between three and 20 years’ imprisonment. The three men have also faced severe harassment which has intensified after their activities linked to the ecological catastrophe: Father Nam has been subjected to surveillance, death threats, arrests and beatings by security police and individuals in plain clothes; Nguyễn Văn Tráng has been targeted through public denunciations in local media, on the radio and on neighbourhood loudspeakers; Paulus Lê Văn Sơn has been subjected to surveillance, denounced in local media and now fears for his safety.
1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Calling on the authorities to immediately end the harassment, attacks and threats against Father Đặng Hữu Nam, Nguyễn Văn Tráng and Paulus Lê Văn Sơn and other human rights defenders for their participation in peaceful protests.
  • Calling on the authorities to ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in accordance with Viet Nam’s obligations under international human rights law.
Contact these two officials by 9 December, 2016:
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
Prime Minister’s Office
Hà Nội, Việt Nam
Email: nguoiphatngonchinhphu@chinhphu.vn
Fax: + 84 80 44940
Salutation: Your Excellency
Ambassador H.E. Pham Quang Vinh
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20th St NW Suite #400, Washington DC 20036
Fax: 1 202 861 0917  I  Phone: 1 202 861 0737  I  Email: info@vietnamembassy.us
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Source: http://www.amnestyusa.org/get-involved/take-action-now/take-action-three-environmental-activists-face-harassment-and-risk-arrest-viet-nam-ua-24616
Tran Minh Nhat. Souce: thanhnienconggiao.wordpress.com

Tran Minh Nhat. Souce: thanhnienconggiao.wordpress.com

PEN INTERNATIONAL, 8 March 2016 – PEN International condemns the ongoing harassment faced by blogger Tran Minh Nhat and his family ever since his release in August 2015. Initially arrested in August 2011, Tran was sentenced to four years in prison and three years in probationary detention for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Criminal Code in connection with his writings for a website linked to the Catholic Church. He was released on 28 August 2015 upon completion of his prison sentence. Since then, Tran and his family have faced frequent and varying acts of harassment and intimidation at the hands of the authorities in Lam Ha district, Lam Dong Province and other unidentified assailants. PEN International calls on the Vietnamese authorities to end the harassment of Tran Minh Nhat and his family and to ensure their safety. PEN also calls on the authorities to carry out a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the acts of harassment reported by Tran Minh Nhat, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.  Read More

Dear Official:

September 2nd is National Day, the day of Vietnam’s independence, and the day during which, at least in recent years, Vietnam has granted amnesty to select prisoners. I was pleased to learn last week that Vietnam will release upwards of 18,000 prisoners this year. However, I was greatly displeased to learn that not a single one of those 18,000 is expected to be a political prisoner.

I wonder, if you met, face-to-face today, one of the countless media, labor, land, democracy, religious, or other activists that the current Vietnamese system has imprisoned, would you know it? I have a theory that, when put in the same, bustling room, one would have no easier a time discerning between an activist and a non-activist than discerning between strangers on a crowded street. Activists, in all their forms, wear no uniform, bear no special marking on the outside that singles them out. Their distinguishing feature is their beliefs– and their actions. They have been made to stand out in society because the Vietnam system criminalizes freedom of expression.

The manufactured labels of prisoner or judge, good or evil, are what truly single out Vietnamese activists.  Read More

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

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.