United Nations Declares Detention of Vietnamese Activist “Arbitrary”

Viet Tan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 17, 2016

Contact: Duy Hoang +1.202.596.7951

In a victory for freedom of association in Vietnam, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for the immediate release of Vietnamese activist and photojournalist Nguyen Dang Minh Man.

A member of the pro-democracy organization Viet Tan, Minh Man photographed images of the “HS.TS.VN" slogan across Vietnam during the movement affirming Vietnam’s claims over the Paracel (Hoang Sa) and Spratly (Truong Sa) islands. She was arrested in 2011 for “subversion” and sentenced to eight years in prison and five years of house arrest. In Opinion No. 40/2016, the United Nations Working Group called for Minh Man to be unconditionally released and compensated for her arbitrary detention.

Minh Man, 31 years old, was detained under Article 79 of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s Penal Code which is “vague and overly broad and has been used to restrict the exercise of human rights” according to the UN Working Group. The Working Group also recorded its concerns regarding Minh Man’s physical and mental well-being, calling the Hanoi authorities to respect the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which Vietnam is a signatory.

The Working Group concluded in their opinion that “her arrest and detention was not because of any threat to national security. Rather, she was detained in order to restrict the dissemination of material that was critical of the Government and which drew attention to issues of current interest.”

In a response to the petition filed by Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), the United Nations noted that despite the government accusing Viet Tan of being a terrorist organisation, the judgement in the People’s Court mentioned the “non-violent” activity of Viet Tan.

Viet Tan welcomes the opinion by the Working Group. We urge the United Nations to task a special rapporteur to examine the cases of all Vietnamese citizens arbitrarily detained for exercising their fundamental rights. As International Human Rights Day approaches, the international community must continue to press the Vietnamese communist government to release all political prisoners.

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