Vietnam’s punitive authorities target democracy advocates



Human Rights Watch

Vietnam’s authorities should quash the politically motivated conviction of pro-democracy activist Nguyen Van Tuc and immediately release him without conditions, Human Rights Watch said today. The court of appeals is scheduled to hear his case on September 14, 2018 in Thai Binh province.

Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service following Truc’s Sept. 12 trial, defense attorney Nguyen Van Mieng said that Truc had denied all the accusations made by state prosecutors against him, and that prosecutors had failed to present any evidence supporting their charges.

“Truc is innocent,” Mieng said. “Everything that he did was protected by the law, by our constitution, and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

“He said he was fighting for the environment and for human rights, not attempting to overthrow the state,” the lawyer said.

“Nguyen Van Tuc is a victim of the Vietnamese government’s escalating crackdown on human rights bloggers and social activists,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The long sentences faced by Nguyen Van Tuc and his fellow Brotherhood for Democracy activists are all about intimidating other activists not to follow in their footsteps.”

Vietnam’s Communist authorities last week refused entry to the Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights, Debbie Stothard, and Amnesty International senior director of global operations Minar Pimple, to attend the World Economic Forum.

The regime is also taking punitive action against exiled dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu,  a constitutional scholar who twice sued Vietnam’s current prime minister for unlawful conduct.

Hanoi authorities, who had already demolished part of Vu’s home and expropriated his adjacent land, recently informed his son that they planned to seize the rest and transfer it to Hanoi City’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism with the excuse of setting up a memorial to the poet Xuan Dieu.

“It should be made clear that my home in Hanoi is the home I myself inherited from Xuan Dieu as his adopted son,” said Vu. The authorities’ decision “is a mere robbery of my property, which is contrary to the Vietnamese Constitution and Civil Code that protect the private ownership and right to inheritance,” he added.

A recent spate of protests “suggests that Vietnam’s communist regime has lost the support of the majority of the country’s 95 million-strong population, except those on the government payroll, including five million Communist Party members,” one observer suggests.

While the regime is ostensibly committed to political liberalization, it retains a hard authoritarian edge.

“A cultural ground zero in a police state that beats democracy advocates with iron bars, Vietnam gets away with being a bad actor because many people want to do business with its enterprising citizens, or enjoy the country’s pleasures,” analyst Thomas Bass writes for Foreign Policy.

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