Friday, December 10, 2010

Vietnam: Government's reliance on "rule by law" to criminalize basic rights

Viet Tan, an unsanctioned pro-democracy party with members in Vietnam and around the world, is stepping up advocacy efforts for Vietnamese prisoners of conscience in advance of Human Rights Day.

Members of Viet Tan meet this week with the foreign ministries of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, and the United States. The discussions are to focus attention on the Vietnamese communist government's reliance on "rule by law" to criminalize basic rights. Using the penal code as the pretext, Hanoi jails writers and bloggers for anti-state "propaganda" (Article 88) and members of pro-democracy groups for "attempting to overthrow the people's administration" (Article 79).

Viet Tan will also deliver a petition with over 17,000 signatures calling on the UN Human Rights Council, the European Union and governments of free countries to pressure the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and immediately release four Viet Tan members detained since July 2010:

  • Pham Minh Hoang, a prolific blogger and mathematics lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City Polytechnic University
  • Duong Kim Khai, a Mennonite pastor and anti-corruption advocate
  • Tran Thi Tam, a land rights activist
  • Nguyen Thanh Tam, a land rights activist
All four have been denied legal representation even though they were arrested for subversion under Article 79 of the penal code which carries a maximum sentence of death.

To show solidarity with all political prisoners in Vietnam, Viet Tan is co-organizing a series of events on December 10, 2010, including:

  • In Washington DC, a 24-hour vigil and fast across from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam embassy (beginning at 12pm).
  • In conjunction with other Vietnamese pro-democracy groups, an online conference on the Paltalk network bringing together leading activists from inside and outside the country.
Source: Viet Tan