His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Prime Minister of Vietnam
16 Le Hong Phong Street, Ba Dinh District
Hanoi, Viet Nam
May 15, 2018
Dear Prime Minister Nguyen,
We write to express our deep concerns regarding the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and journalists in Vietnam – in particular, the severe sentences given to members of the Brotherhood for Democracy (BFD). Within days, ten human rights defenders were sentenced to over one hundred years in prison and house arrest.
On April 5, activists Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, and Truong Minh Duc were sentenced between seven and fifteen years in prison on charges of “carrying out activities that aim to overthrow the state.” Nguyen Van Tuc, another member of the BFD, was sentenced to thirteen years in prison and five years of house arrest on April 10. Tran Thi Xuan was sentenced to nine years in prison and five years of house arrest on April 12 along with Vu Van Hung, who was sentenced to one year in prison. On the same day, political activist Nguyen Viet Dung (not affiliated with the BFD) was also convicted of spreading anti-state propaganda and sentenced to seven years in prison and five years of house arrest.
According to many human rights organizations, human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and other members of the BFD have been imprisoned for advocating for rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Activities conducted by the members of the BFD include trainings on civil society, human rights, and democracy, and providing humanitarian aid to victims of natural disasters.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) declared Nguyen Van Dai’s detention “arbitrary.” The UNWGAD along with the United States Department of State have called for all charges against these activists to be dropped.
We want to emphasize that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a signatory of the International Covenants on Human Rights and has committed to respecting individual freedom of belief, speech, association, press, and right to uphold assembly and political expression. The recent trials and continued criminalization of peaceful political activities clearly contradict Vietnam’s own commitment to internationally accepted standards of human rights. We urge the Government of Vietnam to release the activists and bloggers mentioned above as well as all other prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.
J. Luis Correa
Christopher H. Smith
Scott H. Peters
Gerald E. Connolly
James P. McGovern