Vietnam convicts 7 activists in one week


Vietnam’s Communist authorities should immediately free prominent bloggers and activists imprisoned for exercising their rights, Human Rights Watch said today:

During the last week of March 2016, Vietnam convicted seven bloggers and rights activists and sentenced them to prison…..On March 23, 2016, the People’s Court of Hanoi sentenced Nguyen Huu Vinh, a blogger, to five years in prison and his colleague, Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, to three years for operating a website that provides links to social, political, economic, environmental, and cultural issues in Vietnam. ….

A former staff member at Ho Chi Minh City Television, Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, 50, also known as Nguyen Ngoc Gia, writes about social and political issues relating to democracy and human rights for the Vietnamese page of Radio Free Asia, and on politically independent websites including Dan Luan, Dan Lam Bao, and Dan Chim Viet. He has also expressed support for bloggers and activists imprisoned for exercising their basic rights, such as Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Le Quoc Quan [a former Reagan-Fascell fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy], Dinh Nguyen Kha, and Bui Thi Minh Hang.

“Vietnam has been on a tear over the past week, convicting seven activists for statements that would be a normal part of political life in most countries,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Vietnam government is making clear that the ‘human rights honeymoon’ during the TPP trade negotiations is over, raising a major challenge for President Obama and the US.”

Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy “should not have spent a single day in prison for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression. They must be immediately released, along with all other political prisoners in the country,” said Karim Lahidji, president of the FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights, in a joint statement with its member organization, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights:

Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy have been detained since their arrest on 5 May 2014 in Hanoi. Nguyen Huu Vinh, a former police officer and the son of Vietnam’s ambassador to the former Soviet Union, is the founder of the widely-read AnhBasam (‘Gossip’) website. AnhBasam, one of the most popular sources for news and comments about human rights, democracy, and corruption in Vietnam, often featured articles critical of the Vietnamese government’s policies. In 2013 and 2014, hackers repeatedly attacked the website.

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