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

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 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.

Signed by:

  1. Amnesty International – ENGLAND
  2. Civil Rights Defenders – SWEDEN
  3. Freedom House – USA
  4. International Commission of Jurists – SWITZERLAND
  5. California State Senator Janet Nguyen, Thirty-Fourth District – USA
  6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) – THAILAND
  7. Asian Human Rights Commission – HONG KONG
  8. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – BURMA
  9. Burma Partnership – BURMA
  10. Centre for Human Rights Education– PAKISTAN
  11. Citizens for Justice and Peace – INDIA
  12. Imparsial – INDONESIA
  13. Justice and Peace Netherlands, The Hague – NETHERLANDS
  14. Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders – HONG KONG
  15. OT Watch Mongolia – MONGOLIA
  16. Taiwan Association for Human Rights – TAIWAN
  17. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) – INDONESIA
  18. Triangle Women’s Support Group – BURMA
  19. Van Lang – CZECH REPUBLIC
  20. Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment – PHILIPPINES
  21. Association for the Protection of Religious Freedom – VIETNAM
  22. Association of Former Political and Religious Prisoners of Vietnam – VIETNAM
  23. Bach Dang Giang Foundation – VIETNAM
  24. Bau Bi Tuong Than Association – VIETNAM
  25. Canadian Youth for Human Rights Vietnam – VIETNAM
  26. Civil Society Forum – VIETNAM
  27. Chuong Bo Evangelical Protestant Church – VIETNAM
  28. Evangelical Lutheran Church American and Vietnam – VIETNAM
  29. Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience – VIETNAM
  30. Independent Journalist Association – VIETNAM
  31. No – U Mien Trung – VIETNAM
  32. REM Defenders – VIETNAM
  33. Vietnam Path Movement – VIETNAM
  34. Vietnamese Bloggers Network – VIETNAM
  35. Vietnamese United Buddhist Sangha – VIETNAM
  36. Group of Nguyen Kim Dien Priest – VIETNAM

Click here to download the statement in PDF