End ongoing crackdown on peaceful dissent
International Federation for Human Rights
22 September 2016
Vietnam must end the ongoing repression of peaceful dissent, repeal its repressive laws, and immediately release all political prisoners, FIDH and its member organization Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) said today. FIDH and VCHR's call followed the imprisonment of three government critics in three days.
Today, the People's Supreme Court in Hanoi upheld a lower court's conviction of blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy for "abusing democratic freedoms to harm the interests of the State" under Article 258 of the Criminal Code and sentenced them to five and three years in prison respectively. The trial was held behind closed doors. In addition, Vinh's wife, Le Thi Minh Ha, has not been allowed to visit him in prison for the past five months.
Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy were arrested on 5 May 2014 and accused of "publishing online articles with bad contents and misleading information to lower the prestige and create public distrust of government offices, social organizations, and citizens." On 23 March 2016, a People's Court in Hanoi sentenced the two to five and three years in prison respectively.
On 20 September 2016, the Dong Da District Court in Hanoi sentenced land rights activist Can Thi Theu, 54, to 20 months in prison on charges of causing public disorder under Article 245 of the Criminal Code. Theu was arrested on 10 June 2016 for leading protests against land confiscation outside various government offices in Hanoi. Police beat and detained several activists and family members who attempted to attend the trial.
Vietnamese authorities have repeatedly used legislation inconsistent with Vietnam's obligations under international law to suppress the right to freedom of opinion and expression and to detain government critics.
Vietnam holds about 130 political prisoners - the largest number among Southeast Asian countries.