Joint Statement Calling for the Release of Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc
24 May 2015 11:35 am
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_prosperity/).
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.
- 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