URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY
|VNM 001 / 0418 / OBS 041
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment / Sentence
April 9, 2018
PARIS-GENEVA, 9 April 2018 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Viet Nam.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) about the ongoing arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and sentencing of human rights lawyer and Brotherhood for Democracy (1) founder Nguyen Van Dai, his assistant Le Thu Ha, and Brotherhood for Democracy members Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, and Nguyen Bac Truyen.
According to the information received, on April 5, 2018, the People’s Court in Hanoi sentenced Nguyen Van Dai to 15 years in prison on charges of “activities aimed at overthrowing the peoples’ administration” (formerly Article 79, now Article 109 in the amended Criminal Code). Under the same charges, Nguyen Trung Ton and Truong Minh Duc were each sentenced to 12 years in prison and Nguyen Bac Truyen received an 11- year prison term. Likewise, Le Thu Ha and Pham Van Troi were sentenced to nine and seven years in prison respectively.
The charges against them stemmed from their advocacy for the establishment of a free market economy and a democratic government, their calls on international organisations to speak out against human rights violations, and their legal support to dispossessed farmers and victims of the Formosa pollution disaster (2).
Ahead of the verdict, plainclothes police officers arrested several protesters who sought to march to the court in Hanoi. Protesters were holding signs reading “democracy is not a crime” and “oppose suppression of Brotherhood for Democracy”.
The Observatory recalls that Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha have been arbitrarily detained without trial since December 16, 2015 (3). Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, and Nguyen Bac Truyen were simultaneously arrested at their homes in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Thanh Hoa on July 30, 2017, and have been arbitrarily detained since. Three other members of the group, Nguyen Trung Truc, Nguyen Van Tuc, and Tran Thi Xuan, arrested between July and October 2017, remain in custody. Nguyen Van Tuc is expected to stand trial on April 10, 2018 in Thai Binh Province. In June 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared Nguyen Van Dai’s detention arbitrary and called for his release (4).
The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the harsh prison sentences handed down against Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, and Nguyen Bac Truyen, as they merely aim at punishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory urges the Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them as well as Nguyen Trung Truc, Nguyen Van Tuc, and Tran Thi Xuan and to put an end to all forms of harassment against them, including at the judicial level.
Please write to the authorities in Viet Nam urging them to:
i. Immediately and unconditionally release Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Nguyen Trung Truc, Nguyen Van Tuc, and Tran Thi Xuan as their detention is arbitrary and it is merely aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities;
ii. Guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity as well as that of all human rights defenders in Viet Nam;
iii Put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Nguyen Trung Truc, Nguyen Van Tuc, and Tran Thi Xuan as well as against all human rights defenders in Viet Nam;
iv. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2;
v.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Viet Nam.
- Mr. Tran Dai Quang, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Email:email@example.com
- Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam; Fax: 84-4-38231872 – 84-4-37992682, Email: email@example.com
- Mr. Le Vinh Tan, Minister of Home Affairs of Viet Nam, Fax: 84-4-39781005
- Mr. Le Thanh Long, Minister of Justice of Viet Nam, Fax: 84-4-38431431
- Mr. To Lam, Minister of Public Security of Viet Nam, Fax: 84-4-9420223
- Mr. Mai Tien Dung, Minister, Office of the Government (OOG), Viet Nam; Fax: 84-4-80 44130
- Mr. Chi Dung Duong, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Viet Nam to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +41 (0) 22-798 07 24; Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Vuong Thua Phong, Ambassador, Embassy of Viet Nam in Brussels, Belgium. Fax : +32 (0)2 374 93 76; Email: email@example.com– firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the embassies of Viet Nam in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, April 9, 2018
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
- Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
(1) Brotherhood for Democracy is an independent civil society organisation that promotes human rights through online actions and coordinates the efforts of various pro-democracy actors in the country.
(2) On April 6, 2016, sea life began washing up on the beaches of Hà Tĩnh province near a steel plant being developed by Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp as it discharged toxic industrial waste illegally into the ocean through drainage pipes. Within weeks, more than 200 km of coast had been contaminated.
(3) See Observatory Urgent Appeal VNM 001/1215/OBS 110, published on December 18, 2015 as well as Joint Press Release, April 3, 2018.
(4) See UNWGAD Opinion No. 26/2017 concerning Nguyen Van Dai (Viet Nam) adopted on June 8, 2017.