2 January, 2014
In 2013 the Vietnamese Government actively campaigned for a member’s seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Despite this, the status of human rights in Vietnam has not risen; in contrast, its violation has systematically increased. On its blog, Dan Lam Bao presents a review of the status of human rights in Vietnam in 2013.
The year 2013 witnessed many terrifying, oppressive incidents: bloggers were continually jailed; rigged courts seriously violated the right to a fair trial; police stepped up their brutality and arbitrarily arrested citizens. People were tortured and killed inside police stations.
Dissidents jailed and sentenced
At the end of 2012, Vietnamese authorities severely sentenced bloggers of the Freeland Journalist Club, on appeal, with sentences of up to twelve years. Outside court, many bloggers who came to attend the trial were detained and beaten. Blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi was beaten and severely abused.
Although the public was outraged by these events, at Nghe An, the Vietnamese Communist Government began a new stage of suppression in 2013. In a trial court, they accused 14 patriotic youths of “activities aiming to overthrow the government”. The trial lasted two days and ended with a total 83 years imprisonment and 42 years house arrest on release for the youths: Ho Duc Hoa, Dang Xuan Dieu, Le Văn Son, Nguyen Dang Minh Man, Nguyen Van Duyet, Nguyen Van Oai, Nguyen Dinh Cuong, Tran Minh Nhat, Thai Van Dung, Nong Hung Anh, Nguyen Xuan Anh, Ho Van Oanh, Dang Ngoc Minh, Nguyen Dang Vinh Phuc.
Outside the court, thousands of police were assembled to harass and arrest people attending the trial. Nguyen Dinh Cuong’s mother, Nguyen Thi Hoa, suffered traumatic brain injuries from being beaten by police and was hospitalized for two months.
At the same time as the Nghe An court incidents, a secret trial in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Lo Thanh Thao to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment for distributing leaflets. Later, on appeal, her sentence was reduced to 2 years imprisonment on 13 May. Her family was not informed at all about the court hearing.
Vo Viet Dzien was sentenced in January 2013, at Tay Ninh, to 3 years imprisonment for “activities aiming to overthrow the People’s Government”. Bui Van Tin, a religious advocate fighting for Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment in An Giang Court. Tran Thi Ngoc Muoi, for protecting her family against land confiscation, was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment by District 2, Ho Chi Minh City court.
Blogger Le Anh Hung was abducted in Hanoi and detained at a psychiatric centre.
In Phu Yen court, 22 members of the Cong An Bia Son (Council for Public Law and Affairs of Bia Mountain) were charged of “activities aiming to overthrow the People’s Government”. The court lasted from 28 January to 4 February. Phan Van Thu (or Tran Cong), 65, received a life sentence. The rest of the group were sentenced to 10-17 years in prison.
Ngo Hao, 65, was arrested on 8 February by Phu Yen police. On 11 September, in Phu Yen trial court, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail and 5 years house arrest on release. He was charged with “activities aiming to overthrow the People’s Government”. His sentence remained the same on appeal on 23 December. His family asked for aid in vain.
Doan Van Vuon and his family were tried in Hai Phong court in early April. Thousands of people who came to attend the court were assaulted by the police.
Pham Nguyen Thanh Binh, born 1983, was sentenced in a Ho Chi Minh City court on the 17 April to 3 years imprisonment and 3 years under house arrest on release. His crime: peacefully expressing his ideas on his blog. On the 16 May, ‘dan oan’ (or evicted citizen, one whose land/house has been unfairly confiscated by the government) Le Thi Kim Thu was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
On 16 May, patriotic students Dinh Nguyen Kha and Nguyen Phuong Uyen were sentenced to 8 and 6 years in prison, respectively, at Long An trial court. All those attending court were unlawfully arrested by Long An police.
On 23 May, Ho Duc Hoa, considered the leader amongst the 14 patriotic youths that appeared in Vinh appeal court, received the same sentence as in his trial court: 13 years in jail. The rest of the group were sentenced to 2 to 4 years imprisonment. Thousands of police were called to oppress and assault the group’s supporters. Police brutally beat Tran Thi Nga and her infant boy. Masked police women also injected poisonous liquid into Tran Thi Hoa’s abdomen. Hoa is Nguyen Dinh Cuong’s mother. Cuong was sentenced to 4 years in jail. Related to this event, two months later, Ngo Van Khoi and Nguyen Van Hai were arrested as they protested against police who were illegally oppressing and intimidating religious supporters trying to attend the court.
On 2 June, police cruelly assaulted participants at an anti-China demonstration in Hanoi and unlawfully arrested dozens of people. Eight ethnic Hamon followers in the Central Highlands were sentenced to a total of 63 years in prison.
Article 258 of the Vietnamese Penal Code has been used to oppress many online writers.
On 26 May, blogger Truong Duy Nhat was arrested. On 13 June, blogger Pham Viet Dao was detained awaiting prosecution. On 15 June, at Long An, Dinh Nguyen Kha’s older brother, blogger Dinh Nhat Uy, was arrested for “abusing rights to democracy and freedom to infringe upon the interests of the State”.
On 16 August, Long An appeal court sentenced Dinh Nguyen Kha to 4 years in prison and Nguyen Phuong Uyen 3 years on suspended sentence. Kha and Uy’s mother, Nguyen Thi Kim Lien, collapsed in front of the court on seeing both her sons sentenced.
At Vinh diocese, police beat and bloodily injured My Yen’s parish people when they came to demand the release of two unlawfully arrested parishioners.
On 2 October, after being detained for over a year while the court was repeatedly delayed, lawyer Le Quoc Quan was sentenced to 30 months in jail at the trial court in Hanoi, for “tax evasion”.
On 29 October at Long An, blogger Dinh Nhat Uy was given a 15 months suspended sentence, followed 12 months probation. Outside the court, 30 supporters were unlawfully detained by Long An police, Luu Trong Kiet was beaten and injured.
In the Northwest Highlands of Vietnam, at least 8 ethnic Hmong activists, believers of the Duong Van Minh Sect, were arrested as they protested for freedom of religion and belief. Arrested in October and November, they were Ly Van Dinh, Duong Van Tu, Hoang Van Sang, Thao Quan Mua, Ly Van Hau, Hoang Van Pao, Duong Van Minh, and Vu A Su.
In just one year 2013, Vietnamese authorities arrested and sentenced at least 68 people – campaigners for basic human rights principles, demanding they be applied and respected.
Police, disguised as thugs, arbitrarily beat and arrest people
To cover up their criminal acts in 2013, the Vietnamese Government continually used its plainclothes security force to viciously attack human rights activists. With underhand protection and support from the government, this police force disguised as thugs has increased its level of oppression to an alarming degree.
On 5 February, two young bloggers, Trinh Anh Tuan (or Gio Lang Thang) and Dao Trang Loan (or Hu Vo) were beaten and brutally detained when they were distributing New Year’s gifts to evicted citizens/ farmers in Hanoi. On 8April in An Giang, police terrorized a Hoa Hao Buddhist Church follower so badly that he had to be hospitalized. On 9 April, Nguyen Chi Duc was ambushed, attacked violently and injured by authorities.
In the Central Highlands, on the night of 12 April, Gia Lai police abducted and cruelly beat Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh’s wife Tran Thi Hong and their two children. More severely, that group of police continued to physically and mentally abuse Hong and her 13 year old son, by stripping off their clothes and taking turns to pat down their bodies.
On 7 June, five police stopped bloggers Nguyen Hoang Vi and Pham Le Vuong Cac (or Cui Cac) on District 12 To Ky Street, then savagely beat them.
On 25 June, the anniversary day of the founding of Hoa Hao Buddhist Church by Budda Master Huynh Phu So, around 100 police, security officers, and local guards assaulted the religious procession. They beat the priest Vo Van Thanh Liem and 20 other Hoa Hao Buddhist Church followers, amongst them women and children. Many female followers were knocked out after being savagely hit. The police then sprayed dirty drainage water on the injured people, who were lying where they had fallen. Priest Vo Van Thanh Liem was beaten by around 20 police, who took turns punching him on his abdomen, chest and head, until he fell.
More severely, on 4 July, ‘dan oan’ Do Thi Thiem suffered an acid attack for her fight against systematic corruption and wrongs.
On 13 August, Hanoi police suddenly surrounded and took into custody a group of youths learning English in their house. At least 7 youths from 18 to 29 were detained in Truong Dinh ward police station without explanation.
On the morning of 17 August, one day after Uyen and Kha’s appeal court hearing, a group of thugs ambushed and harassed Tran Thi Nga and her one year old son in front of Anh Binh hotel, 175/8 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, Saigon. Also attacked there were Bui Thi Minh Hang, lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen and journalist Truong Minh Duc.
At Ba Ria, Vung Tau, on 20 August, Le Quoc Quyet was stopped and harassed by the traffic police. During the argument, police disguised as thugs and armed with stones attacked him. On 23 August, at Hanoi, “dirty bombs” made with rotten shrimp were thrown at Nguyen Tien Nam’s house. Nam then was taken in custody for 14 hours. On 29 August, the thugs returned and injured him with a machete. On the 25 September, police broke in blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy’s home to terrorize and beat the residents and visitors there. On 7 October, former prisoner of conscience Pham Thanh Nghien was surrounded and arrested at Hai Phong.
On the evening of 15 October, many ethnic Hmong people were forced to board a bus. The police viciously hit many in the group. Amongst them, Duong Van Phung and Hoang Thi Vang were badly injured and were knocked out.
At midnight of the 23 and early morning of the 24 October, the police violently forced ethnic Hmong people aboard a bus, brutally beating them, and confiscating their belongings. On 25 October, Truong Van Dung and Le Hong Phong arrived to support the Hmong people, but were badly assaulted by plain-clothes police officers. Both their hands and feet were cuffed with chains, and they were transported to Thuy Khue police station. During the assault, police broke Truong Van Dung’s ribs.
On the 23 November, the police forces surrounded an ethnic Hmong village at Cao Bang province. They harassed the people, demolished the traditional Hmong funeral house and occupied its site. On the morning of 24 November, police forces again attacked Hmong people at Na Heng village, Nam Vang commune, Bao Lam district of Cao Bang province. In total, 36 Hmong people were injured and bleeding from head injuries. Another 17 were handcuffed and taken away.
On 26 November, in Dong Thap, Nguyen Thanh Hai, riding his motorcycle to Long Hau commune, in Lai Vung district (Dong Thap), to join a Buddhist ritual in a private home, was knocked over into a river by a police officer. Luu Thi Luy had stones thrown at her when she came for the session.
Around 9:00 in the morning of 29 November, journalists Pham Chi Dung and Le Quoc Quyet were harassed whilst visiting Dr Nguyen Thanh Giang. Both were later detained to be questioned at Trung Van ward police station (Tu Liem district, Hanoi) for a “working session”.
On 15 December, Nghe An police forces prohibited a soccer game between two teams of youths. Many players and fans were beaten and detained.
Oppression of activities promoting human rights
Despite the fierce oppression of the police forces, the year 2013 witnessed the growth of various public activities encouraging and advocating human rights. Outdoors activities, such as discussing and distributing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, attracted the participation of many citizens. In response, the Vietnamese Government escalated its oppression by using even more subtle tactics.
On 5 May, in Saigon, police cruelly assaulted citizens who were participating in a the Human Rights Picnic and distributing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Bloggers Vo Quoc Anh, Vu Sy Hoang and Nguyen Hoang Vi were arrested and wounded. Next day, bloggers Chau Van Thi, Nguyen Hoang Vi, Nguyen Thao Chi and Nguyen Thi Cuc (Hoang Vi’s mother) were all brutally beaten up.
On 9 May, to avenge those people who participated in the Human Rights Picnic, police detained Nguyen Van Thi on his way to a medical examination.
On 21 May, in Nha Trang, blogger Me Nam (Nguyen Ngoc Như Quynh), Nguyen Tien Nam, Pham Van Hai were unlawfully arrested, after distributing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and balloons saying “Our human rights must be respected.”
On 5 August, two young women, Nguyen Nu Phuong Dung and Nguyen Thao Chi, were intimidated and detained by airport security officers on arrival at Tan Son Nhat. Dung and Chi were The Network of Vietnamese Bloggers representatives going to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bangkok to hand over Statement 258 (Statement of a Network of Vietnamese Bloggers). On 8 August, journalist Doan Trang’s mother was threatened by police at her home.
On 5 October, Tan Son Nhat airport security officers arrested Chau Van Thi on his return to Vietnam after his trip to study civil society organizations in Philippines. Dozens of citizens were also detained on return to Vietnam. Blogger Nguyen Lan Thang was detained on 30 October at Noi Bai airport.
On 8 December, as the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers celebrated Human Rights Day in Hanoi and Saigon, participants were brutally assaulted by police in plain clothes. The victims were cruelly beaten, their human rights documents and balloons snatched.
On 10 December, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers was formally launched, with activities promoting Human Rights Day. In Saigon, Nguyen Hoang Vi, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Hoang Dung and other people were stopped and assaulted by police.
Torture, killing inside the police station
In 2013, several citizens were beaten and some died of unexplained causes inside police stations. Police abusive behaviour had become a constant terror for the people.
On the night of 2 January, Tran Van Tan (born 1960, of Duong Thai Nam village, Phuc Thanh commune, Kim Thanh district) was detained by Kim Xuyen commune police. He was discovered dead inside the commune People’s Committee office early next morning. Police explained his death as suicide by hanging.
On the night of 16 January, Nguyen Van Ai, of Thai Hoa town (Nghe An), was beaten by several police. He died after being hospitalized.
On 14 March, Hoang Van Ngai, born 1974, of Quang Thanh commune, Gia Nghia town (Dak Nong Province), died at Gia Nghia town police station.
On the night of 5 July, Cao Van Tuyen died after being taken into custody in Khanh Trung commune police station. Cao Van Le, who was detained with Tuyen, had to be transferred to the hospital for emergency care.
On 7 October, Tran Thi Hai Yen (born 1982, of Phuoc Luong village, An Cu commune, Tuy An district) died in custody at Tuy An commune police station. Police informed her family that she died from hanging herself.
Applying pressure and vengeance
Besides violently harassing citizens, the Vietnamese Government continually takes revenge and applies pressure on them. It even terrorizes family members and relatives of bloggers and peaceful activists.
In many cases, activists’ families, jobs or businesses were threatened. One example was Nguyen Hoang Vi’s family business, a café, which was harassed continually by police. Police intimidated blogger Doan Trang’s mother several times. Many bloggers were prohibited from leaving the country: Huynh Ngoc Chenh, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Nguyen Thao Chi, Dao Trang Loan, Nguyen Hoang Vi and Chau Van Thi.
On 17 November, internet service supplier VNPT (owned by the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group) applied various techniques to interfere or redirect visits to Dan Lam Bao to a different site.
On 29 November, University of Food Industry, Ho Chi Minh City, expelled its student Nguyen Thi Phuong Uyen. They explained that Phuong Uyen has violated the laws of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Harsh prison system, prisoners resist
To maintain its dictatorship, the Vietnamese Government establishes a dense prison system to silence its citizens’ peaceful voice. Communist prisons seriously violate human rights and the government protects and covers up all its wrongdoings. Political prisoners are subject to vengeance in the cruellest prison conditions, which exhaust them physically and mentally.
In 2013, there were prisoner uprisings and strikes to protest against the communist prison system. Despite being hidden inside prison walls, news of the different types of strikes, from north to south, had spread to the outside.
At the beginning of 2013, information revealed from prison showed that Do Thi Minh Hanh, Tran Thi Thuy, and Duong Thi Tron were regularly receiving harsh handling, because of their brave fight against unjust conduct towards prisoners. Do Thi Minh Hanh was frequently beaten and injured by other prisoners, who acted under prison guard order.
As fighting against injustice in prison repeatedly occurs, transferring prisoners far away from their local areas is a favourite strategy of the Vietnamese Government. They aim to isolate the prisoners, cause problems for family visits, and cover up all news.
At the beginning of 2013, blogger Ta Phong Tan was transferred from Xuyen Moc prison to prison No.5 in Yen Dinh district, of Thanh Hoa province, 2000 kilometers from her home. Dieu Cay Nguyen Van Hai was transferred to Nghe An, prison No.6. Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia was transferred from Nghe An, prison No.6 to a prison in Quang Nam-Da Nang, far from his home in Hai Phong, in the north.
On 1 October, Mai Thi Dung and Do Thi Minh Hanh were moved to Thanh Xuan prison in Thanh Oai district, Hanoi. During the trip they were handcuffed and fettered and fainted many times inside the prisoner transport.
On 26 April, student Nguyen Phuong Uyen was beaten in Long An prison. At the same time, Dinh Nguyen Kha was transported to prison camp B14 to be investigated for his “terrorist crime”.
In June, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was punished with 10 days in solitary confinement in Xuan Loc prison. In Nam Ha (Ha Nam) prison, blogger Le Van Son was beaten, and his leg broken. Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia was punished, as he reported that Dieu Cay was on a hunger strike. Nguyen Kim Nhan was banned from family visit for 3 months.
In August, following the prisoners’ rebellious incident in Xuan Loc prison, many political prisoners from Xuan Loc were transferred to Xuyen Moc prison. Phan Ngoc Tuan, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, Nguyen Ngoc Cuong, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, and Huynh Anh Tri all were disciplined by having their legs shackled for10 days.
In September, teacher Dinh Dang Dinh’s health was in a critical condition because of stomach cancer. Not long after being treated in hospital, he was moved back to the prison on 8 November during his treatment. His family continually asked for help, as Dinh‘s stomach cancer was at its last stage, due to late diagnosis and lack of medical treatment.
In 2013, Luu Quang Hien, who had just completed his sentence, issued a statement to denounce the cruelty of Xuan Loc prison authorities. He said that, in 2011, prisoner Quach Cong Ninh was tortured by Z30A Xuan Loc prison camp police. They shackled his legs and starved him while he was very ill. Eight days later, Ninh died, still shackled.
On 24 November, prisoner Bui Dang Thuy, former officer in the Air Force of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, died after 17 years imprisonment at Xuan Loc prison, Dong Nai. Thuy had suffered from tuberculosis for 17 years, and had received no treatment.
Facing various severe inhuman abuses in the communist prisons, many prisoners bravely battled against it.
On 27 May, Dr Cu Huy Ha Vu started a hunger strike to protest the murderous intention of the prison officers in No.5 prison Yen Dinh. His hunger strike, which lasted 25 days, attracted attention and caused discussion.
On 21 June, prisonner of conscience Tran Minh Nhat began a hunger strike to object to the Nghi Kim (Nghe An) prison officers’ offenses to his dignity and life. Nhat’s friend, Nguyen Xuan Anh, was very ill and suffered from body-wide lesions, because his prison cell was too small, unhygienic, and extremely hot. Nguyen Dinh Cuong was put in solitary confinement for objecting to cruel detentions and fighting against the abuse of human dignity directed at prisoners.
At the same time, at Thai Nguyen prison, prisoners Ho Van Oanh, Tran Huu Duc, and Chu Manh Son all went on a hunger strikes to object to the cruel conduct of the warders, who were trained in a dictatorial political system.
At An Phuoc prison, prisoner Duong Au went on a hunger strike to protest against prison officers’ corruption and misappropriation of part of the food rations.
In October, Doan Huy Chuong and Son Nguyen Thanh Dien went on a three-day hunger strike to object to the callous detention policy of Xuan Loc prison, (Dong Nai). Mai Thi Dung began her hunger strike on 1 October to protest against injustice. In November, lawyer Le Quoc Quan condemned his prison’s offenses against himself and other prisoners.
On 30 June, at about 8 in the morning, prisoners in Xuan Loc prison rose up to object to the harsh communist prison policy. This rebellious act began at Camp 1 (K1) with about 1000 prisoners, who broke prison doors and took a high ranking supervisor as hostage. Six months later, on 27 December, 18 prisoners in Xuan Loc were put to trial and were charged with “resisting officials from performing official duties.”
Fighting for human rights: earliest achievements
In Vietnam, 2013 was an eventful year for bloggers and human rights activists. Thanks to the activities of bloggers, the human rights movement expanded and attracted attention in Vietnam and overseas.
At the beginning of 2013, Reporters Without Borders granted its “Netizen” of the Year award to Vietnamese blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh. The International Freedom of Expression Exchange network (IFEX) named Nguyen Hoang Vi as one of the seven notable women from various countries who have fought for human rights.
Blogger Dieu Cay received two honourable awards: “One Humanity” by writers’ association PEN Canada, and “2013 International Press Freedom” by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia received the 2013 Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write award from the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC). It honoured his long-term tenacity and courage in writing despite the constant threat of imprisonment.
On 11 October, the Vietnam Human Rights Network named three winners of the 2013 Vietnam Human Rights Award: lawyer Le Quoc Quan, engineer Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, and labor rights activist Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung. The official award presentation ceremony took place in Paris on 8 October, in conjunction with the France-Vietnam Solidarity Association and other Vietnamese organizations worldwide. The ceremony also was attended by Reporters Without Borders and Lawyers Without Borders.
On 26 May, after two years of holding masses praying for justice and peace, the “Justice and Peace Commission” office of the Vietnamese Redemptorists was formally established and gained the trust of Vietnamese people everywhere. The founding of Officials of Different Religions of Vietnam, with its many participants being notable clerics, was another encouraging move.
The Human Rights Picnic on 5 May attracted many participants and caused great interest in Vietnam and overseas.
Many supporters went on hunger strikes to assist the imprisoned Dr Cu Huy Ha Vu. Such events created much pressure in influencing the government, which was forced to respond to Dr Vu’s demands.
Blog Danlambao initiated a statement which was signed by several organizations, to oppose Thammasat University bestowing an honorary doctorate on Nguyen Phu Trong, leader of Vietnamese Communist Party.
On 25 June, for the first time in 38 years, Hoa Hao Thuan Tuy Budidst Church celebrated its anniversary (its 74th) with high ranking clerics attending; visitors from four other religions were present at the ceremony.
In July, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers issued Statement 258 to oppose government Article 258. With over 100 initial signatures, they handed the statement to representatives of diplomatic bureaus in Vietnam. These included the embassies of the United States, Denmark, Australia, and Germany, along with representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam. Later they met high-ranking officials from the “Group of Four” highest fund contributors to Vietnam: Norway, Switzerland, Canada, and New Zealand.
In early August, five Vietnamese bloggers visited Bangkok, Thailand, to hand in Statement 258 to representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. They also contacted other human rights organizations: Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Human Rights Watch.
On 22 August, blog Danlambao marked its third active year, despite all attacks from the Vietnamese Government. A full year after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gave the “handling order” targeting Dan Lam Bao, the blog has continued to grow in strength and popularity.
On 28 August, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers publicly ran discussions on the process of handling Statement 258.
On 12 October, the marathon for human rights “RunforRights” took place in Arlington, Virginia to pay homage to the imprisoned activist Nguyen Tien Trung.
On 25 November, women’s rights activists in Vietnam announced the founding of the “Vietnamese Women for Human Rights”.
On 5 December, Tran Van Huynh, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc’s father, a representative of “The Vietnam Path Movement”, went to the United States of America to seek help in releasing prisoners of conscience in Vietnam. He was accompanied by Nguyen Thi Kim Lien, imprisoned student Dinh Nguyen Kha’s mother.
On 7 December, in Nha Trang, bloggers distributed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On 8 December “Vietnamese Women for Human Rights”, bloggers and supporters, met in Saigon and Hanoi to publicly celebrate Human Rights Day. On 10 December, the bloggers continued their activities honouring Human Rights Day and formally launched the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers.
Dieu Cay, a source of inspiration
Vietnam’s best known activist, on social networking sites, in non-government newspapers, and in international broadcasts, was blogger Dieu Cay Nguyen Van Hai. Detained by the government from April 2007, his determination was a source of inspiration and a symbol of bravery. Sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, he was consecutively detained in famously brutal prisons: 4 Phan Dang Luu, B14, Chi Hoa, Bo La, Xuyen Moc, and Xuan Loc. He was transferred to the remote No.6 prison in Nghe An due to government concerns about his growing influence on other prisoners. His isolation was a deliberate act by police, to limit external monitoring, and to crush his determination.
On 22 June, Dieu Cay began a hunger strike in No.6 prison Nghe An. The incident caught the attention and objections of the public. Immediately, the International Federation of Human Rights, World Organization against Torture, and Vietnam Committee on Human Rights issued a joint statement concerning his health. Human Rights Watch condemned Vietnam for escalating humans rights abuse, and for neglecting international human rights conventions. It cited Dieu Cay’s hunger strike as evidence of this.
On 23 July, Reporters Without Borders called for emergency action to save Dieu Cay’s life. They particularly requested assistance for Dieu Cay’s family from embassies in Vietnam.
On Sunday 28 July, a meeting to support Dieu Cay’s family was attended by ex-wife Duong Thi Tan and their son Nguyen Tri Dung. The topic of the meeting was “A glance at Dieu Cay, from the angles of justice, human rights, and humanity”. On 2 August, police were obliged to allow Dieu Cay to see his family. Dieu Cay had been on hunger strike for 35 days, ending on 27 July.
On 21 October, Dieu Cay received the award “One Humanity” by PEN Canada in recognition of his courageous efforts in advocating human rights, despite governmental oppression. The Committee to Protect Journalists created an international petition calling for his release by the government. On 26 November, the award presentation ceremony took place in New York, organized by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Dieu Cay, still in prison, was not present. He was awarded the 23th International Press Freedom award, which honours those who bravely fight for freedom of opinion and expression.
The power of the people
More and more citizens have risen up against the injustice and corruption of a dictatorial communist system. Demonstrations in many places protested against public authorities. Citizens drew up petitions calling for integrity and righteousness in government. Members publicly quitting the communist party was another encouraging sign.
In January, Duong Noi villagers fiercely confronted and pushed back authorities, who were collaborating with the police in forcibly confiscating their lands.
On 18 January, Nguyen Van Ai’s (born 1971, of Thai Hoa town, Nghe An) relatives rushed to Thai Hoa town police station requesting the government to clarify the involvement of the police and the reason for his death.
On 17 February, despite police efforts inhibiting the event, citizens in Hanoi and Saigon gathered to commemorate Vietnamese soldiers and civilians sacrificed in the border war between Vietnam and China in 1979.
At the end of February, the “Free Citizens” group issued a statement supporting Nguyen Dac Kien.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam made comments on the Revision Draft of the Constitution.
On 17 March, in Vinh Yen (Vinh Phuc), thousands paraded a coffin to the province People’s Committee office, requesting justice following the death of a local citizen. The suspected culprit was believed to be a relative of the president of the People’s Committee, Phung Quang Hung.
Three students of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Law launched a justice statement for Doan Van Vuon.
On 5 May, dozens of people participated in the Human Rights Picnics in Hanoi and Saigon. These picnics continued a few times afterwards.
On 24 July, a message appeared on Facebook: “Resign, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien!”. This message was due to the death of four new-born infants, who died instantly after being given wrong Hepatitis B vaccines in Huong Hoa district (Quang Tri) and Binh Thuan. Minister Kim Tien is considered to be completely incompetent.
Hundreds of people went to Long An and demonstrated, demanding the release of Uyen and Kha.
On 8 October, Boi Cau villagers, of Kim Boi commune, Kim Boi district, Hoa Binh province, tied up five police officers. They objected to police cover-ups of protected damagers of the environment.
In October and November, hundreds of ethnic Hmong people went to Hanoi and rallied, demanding the release of their peers, plus justice and freedom of belief and religion.
On 27 October, around 3000 people of Nghia An commune, Tu Nghia district, Quang Ngai gathered in front of the province People’s Committee. They objected to the government’s unlawful allowance of local sand excavation. The protesters stopped all the trucks used to transport sand, and raised banners vowing to protect the sand of Nghia An.
On 29 October, hundreds of people gathered at Long An to attend the trial of Dinh Nhat Uy.
On 13 November, villagers of Mai Phuc surrounded the People’s Committee ward’s office in Phuc Dong Long Bien, Hanoi. They protested against police and local authorities for beating citizens and demolishing tombs of their ancestors.
On 14 November, after an incident caused by traffic police beating a citizen, hundreds of Gia An people, Tanh Linh district, Binh Thuan, encircled and held Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, a lieutenant traffic police officer. The people burnt Tuan’s motorcycle and detained the vehicle BKS 86B 0214.
On 4 December, Le Hieu Dang publicly announced his quitting from the party. On 5 December, Nguyen Dac Dien and journalist Pham Chi Dung all declared their quitting.
Dan Lam Bao (Citizen Journalism) is a blog, available at danlambaovn.blogspot.com, which provides alternative information, commentaries and analyses to the state-owned media. Founded in 2010, it is now one of the leading dissident blogs in Vietnam.