In response to the government’s announcement of an amnesty for more than 10,000 detainees for Vietnam’s national holiday on 2 September, Reporters Without Borders sent the following letter to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urging him to release all bloggers and journalists imprisoned in Vietnam.
Dear Prime Minister,
Your government has announced an amnesty for more than 10,000 detainees for Vietnam’s national holiday on 2 September.
Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release of the blogger Nguyen Van Tinh and the poet Tran Duc Thach, who were sentenced in 2009 to three and a half and three years in prison respectively for “propaganda against the socialist state”.
We urge you to go further and, on this holiday, to free all the prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, especially the 17 bloggers and three journalists who, according to our organization, are still in prison. The government must respect its obligations and guarantee freedom of expression. As you begin your second term as Vietnam’s Prime Minister, the release of human rights activists, journalists and bloggers would send a strong signal of a readiness to be more open.
We would like to draw your attention to the cases of Vi Duc Hoi, Pham Minh Hoang, Paulus Le Son, Cu Huy Ha Vu and Nguyen Van Ly in particular.
Arrested on 27 October 2010, the pro-democracy activist Vi Duc Hoi was sentenced in April to five years in prison and three years of house arrest for anti-state propaganda. He received an award from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch in 2009.
Pham Minh Hoang, a blogger with French and Vietnamese dual citizenship who uses the pen-name Phan Kien Quoc, was sentenced on 10 August to three years in prison and three years of house arrest on a charge of trying to overthrow the government.
Witnesses saw the blogger Paulus Le Son being arrested outside his home on Bui Xuong Trach Street in Hanoi on 3 August during a major police operation involving use of violence in which about 10 Catholics were targeted. The day before, he had gone to a Hanoi people’s court to try to attend the netizen Cu Huy Ha Vu’s appeal hearing. It was the second time that Son, who used to write for a parish newspaper, www.chuacuuthe.com, was arrested this year.
The blogger Cu Huy Ha Vu’s seven-year jail sentence for anti-state propaganda was upheld on appeal on 2 August. The son of the poet Cu Huy Can, he was arrested in November 2010 just for advocating a multi-party political system on the Internet and in the foreign media.
Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest, human rights activists and editor of the dissident publication Tu Do Ngon Luan, was sent back to prison on 26 July although he is in very poor health. He was sentenced in 2007 to eight years in prison for anti-state propaganda but had been given a one-year parole on medical grounds in March 2010.
Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Nga insisted on 27 July that “all of the basic rights and freedoms figure in the Vietnamese constitution and in the laws that are below it” and “are respected in practice too.” In Vietnam, “no one is punished for expressing their opinions,” she claimed. Reporters Without Borders urges you to ensure respect for Vietnam’s undertakings by freeing these prisoners.
We thank you for the attention you give to our request.