English PEN is one of seven organisations to have sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng calling for the release of human rights activists ahead of their appeal hearing in Vietnam today, 23 May. We believe that the activists, many of whom are bloggers and citizen journalists. have been detained in violation of their right to free expression. We are therefore calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory.
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Office of the State
1 Bach Thao
22 May 2013
Dear Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng,
We, the undersigned organisations, are seriously concerned over the appeals trial on Thursday, 23 May 2013 of eight human rights activists from the Catholic organisation Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, namely: Ho Duc Hoa, Paulus Le Son, Nguyen Van Duyet, Ho Van Oanh, Nguyen Dinh Cuong, Nguyen Xuan Anh, Thai Van Dung, and Tran Minh Nhat. We question the legitimacy of the forthcoming trial, and we condemn the reported ill treatment of the activists since they have been
We were alarmed that these activists, along with six others, were dealt severe custodial penalties. The conviction of the fourteen activists appears to be part of a disturbing trend of ongoing persecution against those practicing their right to free expression in Vietnam.
These activists, many of whom are bloggers and citizen journalists, were charged under Article 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.” The criminal activities the group are said to have engaged in include writing commentary that is critical of the Government and distributing this information on the Internet, and
both participating in and encouraging peaceful protest.
These activities should not be punished as criminal offences, but are all activities that Vietnam is obliged to protect and promote as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR protects the right to freedom of expression (Article 19), the right to freedom of peaceful assembly (Article 21), and the right to freedom of association (Article 22).
We call on the Government of Vietnam to immediately release the detained activists and to reverse the convictions for all fourteen. We also call on the Government of Vietnam to ensure the well-being of the activists while they are detained; guarantee just legal proceedings; and to investigate and hold to account those responsible for threats and harassment against them.
Director for International Freedom of Expression
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Media Legal Defence Initiative
Front Line Defenders
Writers at Risk Programme Manager
Index on Censorship