JOINT STATEMENT CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF VIETNAMESE PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE, TRAN HUYNH DUY THUC

JOINT STATEMENT CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF VIETNAMESE PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE, TRAN HUYNH DUY THUC

May 24, 2015

On 24 May 2009, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Vietnamese ICT entrepreneur and blogger, was arrested under the initial charge of “promoting anti-government propaganda” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. On 20 January 2010, in a one-day trial, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and his three co-defendants – Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Thang Long – were prosecuted at the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City for “conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Penal Code. Thuc was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment followed by 5 years of house arrest, while Dinh, Trung and Long, were sentenced to 5 years, 7 years and 5 years’ imprisonment followed by 3 years of house arrest, respectively.

Contrary to being found guilty of aiming to “overthrow” the state, the activities for which Thuc and his co-defendants were prosecuted comprised only blogging that called for political reform and respect for human rights (e.g. https://tranfami.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/hewing_quest_for_democracy_and...). They did not receive a fair trial and relatives of the defendants and foreign journalists were not allowed in the courtroom. The defendants’ microphones did not function when Thuc’s defense counsel tried to speak on his behalf or when Long attempted to inform the court that the defendants’ confessions were written under duress. According to eyewitnesses, the judges deliberated for only 15 minutes before returning with the judgment, which took 45 minutes to read, suggesting it had been prepared in advance of the hearing.

On 29 August 2012, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted the opinion that Thuc and his three co-defendants’ detention violated the right to freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as the right to liberty and security of person (Article 9) and the right to freedom of association (Article 21). Vietnam is a party to the ICCPR. Consequently, the WGAD requested the Vietnamese government to release them and provide them with compensation, in accordance with its international obligations. Although Vietnam accepted 31 of the recommendations calling for the respect and protection of freedom of expression at the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, the Vietnamese government has still failed to resolve Thuc’s case.

Today, 24 May 2015, marks Thuc’s 6th year of imprisonment. Until now, Thuc remains in prison while his three co-defendants have been released early. As such, we would like to call on the Vietnamese government to abide by their international and domestic
obligations by ensuring that Thuc is immediately released. Only when the relevant authorities have taken the necessary steps so that his conviction is overturned, will justice to Thuc be restored. The international community and human rights organizations will be watching.

 

SIGNED:


Amnesty International – ENGLAND
Civil Rights Defenders – SWEDEN
Freedom House – USA
International Commission of Jurists – SWITZERLAND
California State Senator Janet Nguyen, Thirty-Fourth District – USA
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) – THAILAND
Asian Human Rights Commission – HONG KONG
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – BURMA
Burma Partnership – BURMA
Centre for Human Rights Education– PAKISTAN
Citizens for Justice and Peace – INDIA
Imparsial – INDONESIA
Justice and Peace Netherlands, The Hague – NETHERLANDS
Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders – HONG KONG
OT Watch Mongolia – MONGOLIA
Taiwan Association for Human Rights – TAIWAN
Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) – INDONESIA
Triangle Women’s Support Group – BURMA
Van Lang – CZECH REPUBLIC
Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment – PHILIPPINES
Association for the Protection of Religious Freedom – VIETNAM
Association of Former Political and Religious Prisoners of Vietnam – VIETNAM
Bach Dang Giang Foundation – VIETNAM
Bau Bi Tuong Than Association – VIETNAM
Canadian Youth for Human Rights Vietnam – VIETNAM
Civil Society Forum – VIETNAM
Chuong Bo Evangelical Protestant Church – VIETNAM
Evangelical Lutheran Church American and Vietnam – VIETNAM
Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience – VIETNAM
Independent Journalist Association – VIETNAM
No – U Mien Trung – VIETNAM
REM Defenders – VIETNAM
Vietnam Path Movement – VIETNAM
Vietnamese Bloggers Network – VIETNAM
Vietnamese United Buddhist Sangha – VIETNAM
Group of Nguyen Kim Dien Priest – VIETNAM