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Bloggers Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan condemned to harsh prison sentences by a Kangaroo court in Vietnam

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PARIS, 24 September 2012 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is outraged by the inhumane sentences imposed on three peaceful bloggers at a closed trial at the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) which lasted only a few hours and grossly violated all standards of international and domestic law. Charged under article 88 of the Criminal Code on “circulating propaganda against the Socialist republic of Vietnam” Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 5 years probationary detention (house arrest); Ta Phong Tan (Truth and Justice) to 10 years in prison and 5 years house arrest, and Phan Thanh Hai (Anh Ba Saigon) to 4 years in prison and 3 years house arrest.

Supporters of the Club of Free Journalists prepare to attend the trial (Photo courtesy of DanLanBao)
Supporters of the Club of Free Journalists prepare to attend the trial (Photo courtesy of DanLanBao)

The trial began at 8.00am and was over by 1.00pm. Since the early hours of this morning, hundreds of Security Police blocked streets and systematically arrested all dissidents and bloggers attempting to attend the trial of the three bloggers, members of the Club of Free Journalists. Since dawn, some 400 secret police disguised as traffic police, youth volunteer brigades, tourist officials were posted around the court. Two vans containing phone-jamming equipment were parked near the City Opera House and behind the US Embassy on Mac Dinh Chi street, preventing cell phone access in the court’s vicinity. Prominent blog Dan Lam Bao (Citizen’s Journalism), which has been giving hour-by-hour reports on the run-up to the trial, was firewalled.

Dieu Cay’s family was prevented from attending the trial. His ex-wife Duong Thi Tan and his son, Nguyen tri Dung, were arrested on their way to the trial, and his youngest daughter was prevented from leaving her home by secret police. Supporters of the Club of Free Journalists seeking to attend the trial were systematically intercepted, beaten and arrested by Police. At least 12 bloggers, including poet Bui Chat, Bui Thi Minh Hang, Trinh Kiem Tien, Nguyen Ho Nhat, Nguyen Thi Phuong, Nguyen Hoang Vi, Nguyen Tien Nam, Nguyen Van Dung, Pham Quoc Tuan, law student Trinh Anh Tuan, Huynh Cong Thuan, Chau Van Thi, Le Quoc Quyet and Lu Thi Thu Trang were taken into custody. The Catholic Redemptorix Church in Ho Chi Minh City was surrounded by Police since the early hours. A group of demonstrators carrying banners were intercepted as they set out from the Church, and Catholic priest Father Le Ngoc Thanh was stopped in his car and forcibly turned back.

Security Police intercept supporters on their way to the trial (Photo courtesy of DanLamBao)
Security Police intercept supporters on their way to the trial (Photo courtesy of DanLamBao)

“Freedom of expression stood trial in Vietnam today”, said Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights. “Both inside and outside the court, it was a travesty of justice. These bloggers are simply patriots who have expressed their peaceful views. Vietnam has taken off its mask. The regime’s vain claims to respect human rights are a farce. The whole world can see that Hanoi’s leaders are impervious to international opinion and will stop at nothing to stifle the voices of freedom and democracy in Vietnam”.

The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is also very concerned for health and security of Dieu Cay, who has suffered harsh treatment during his 23 months in detention. Ha Huy Son, Dieu Cay’s lawyer, said that Dieu Cay looked thin and pale when he visited him on Friday. Lt-Colonel Hoang Van Dung reportedly told Dieu Cay: “We will destroy your health and make sure you die here in prison”.

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