April 8, 2014
EDLC and Boat People SOS are delighted to announce that Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, 56, a lawyer, environmentalist, and pro-democracy activist, has been released from a Vietnamese prison and arrived on April 7, 2014 in Washington, D.C. He will serve as a scholar and fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. EDLC and its partners have been working steadfastly for Dr. Vu’s release for the past three and one-half years.
Dr. Vu became nationally known for his pro-democracy views and for filing a lawsuit challenging construction of a hotel resort on a protected cultural heritage site, and a lawsuit against Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for having unlawfully approved a bauxite mining project in Vietnam’s Central Highlands that threatened environmental and health harms. He enjoyed extraordinarily broad support among diverse sectors of Vietnamese society, and became a cause célèbre through the power of the internet. Human Rights Watch issued a lengthy report, “Vietnam: The Party vs. Legal Activist Cu Huy Ha Vu,” describing the unique elements that made his case Vietnam’s most high-profile political trial in decades. Dr. Vu’s family’s revolutionary credentials made him one of the most prominent people to publicly question the rule of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
The trial of Dr. Vu in April 2011 lasted less than six hours. He was convicted on charges of “propaganda against the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” according to Article 88 of the Criminal Code and sentenced by Vietnam’s Supreme Court to seven years in prison and an additional three years of probation.
In 2011, EDLC filed legal briefs with both the trial and appeals courts in Vietnam, and alerted the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to the human rights violations in Dr. Vu’s case. The Working Group soon found Dr. Vu´s deprivation of liberty to be arbitrary and to violate human rights treaties to which Vietnam is a party, and urged the government to release him.
EDLC enlisted the support of attorneys at WilmerHale, LLP who, on a pro bono basis, have advocated on behalf of Dr. Vu in coordination with EDLC, Boat People SOS, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations.
EDLC is thrilled that Dr. Vu is now free and welcomes him to the United States.
More information about the case can be found on the EDLC website.
4 April 2014
Amnesty International has paid tribute to Dinh Dang Dinh, the Vietnamese environmental activist, blogger and former prisoner of conscience, who has died aged 50.
The activist was unjustly jailed in 2011 after starting a petition against a mining project and was diagnosed with cancer while in prison.
The authorities only allowed Dinh Dang Dinh to be treated in hospital from January 2014, where he was kept under constant surveillance. He was released temporarily on medical grounds in February, before being released permanently in March.
Dinh Dang Dinh died of stomach cancer at his home in Dak Nong province in Viet Nam’s Central Highlands yesterday evening.
“We join human rights defenders in Viet Nam and across the world in mourning the loss of Dinh Dang Dinh and express our deepest condolences to his family,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.
“It is a tragedy that the Vietnamese authorities stole the last years of Dinh Dang Dinh’s life, locking him up away from his loved ones.”
Read more: http://amnesty.org/en/news/death-activist-dinh-dang-dinh-should-be-wake-call-viet-nam-2014-04-04
A provincial court in northern Vietnam on Friday sentenced a Hmong Christian to 18 months in jail for defying a government campaign forcing the ethnic minority group to return to older funeral practices now considered wasteful by many in the community.
Hoang Van Sang, 60, was handed an 18-month jail term by a court in Tuyen Quang province for “abusing democratic rights to infringe on the State and others’ benefits” under Article 258 of Vietnam’s penal code, his lawyer Tran Thu Nam told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Friday.
The charges appeared to stem from Sang’s efforts to raise funds within his community to build a funeral home to meet Hmong reforms for caring for and burying the dead, Nam said.
Community members “contributed money to build the funeral house and assigned Hoang Van Sang to buy materials for it,” Nam said. “No one demanded that he return any money. There is no victim here.”
Nam added that he had urged the court and local prosecutor’s office in considering Sang’s case to hand down only a warning rather than a criminal conviction.
“Hoang Van Sang had only committed an administrative mistake by building the house without official approval from the local government,” he said.
Sang, a follower of reformed burial and wedding practices proposed by Hmong Christian leader Duong Van Minh—now in ill health in Hanoi—had at first faced a jail term of up to 21 months, but the sentence was reduced to 18 months following a hearing, Nam said.
Read more: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/hmong-03142014162845.html
March 19, 2014
by Marianne Brown
Phạm Viết Đào, 62, on Wednesday became the latest blogger in Vietnam to receive a jail term for criticizing the government, as Hanoi continues an increasing crackdown against online dissident.
After a two-hour trial at the Hanoi People’s Court, Đào was sentenced to 15 months in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe the interests of the state” under Article 258 of the penal code.
His blog posts allegedly “distorted” and “vilified” senior leaders. Đào was a former official for the Ministry of Culture and long-standing member of the Vietnamese Communist Party. He chose to represent himself in court.
On the day of his trial many activists expressed their support for the blogger on Facebook. Among them was 23-year-old Trinh Kim Tien, a prominent campaigner against police violence in Vietnam. She posted a photograph of herself with Đào during an anti-China demonstration in 2011.
She said Dao wrote on politics and a variety of human rights issues in Vietnam and was very influential. She said he was well known among anti-China protesters because his younger brother was killed during the 1979 border war with China.