More members in the international community call on Vice President Kamala Harris to raise human rights concerns during her upcoming trip to Vietnam. 10 human rights organizations urge the Vice President to meet with civil society actors, in-person or online. They also request that she discuss the need for Vietnam to respect its international obligations related to human rights, including the immediate release of all political prisoners.
To view the English PDF of this letter, click here.
To view the letter in Vietnamese, click here.
August 18, 2021
The Honorable Kamala Harris
Vice President of the United States of America
The White House
Office of the Vice President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Vice President Harris,
We, the undersigned organizations, commend the U.S government for donating 5 million vaccine doses to Vietnam. The United States has shown great leadership in fighting this pandemic that has killed over 4 million people worldwide.
While COVID-19 has consumed global attention, the Vietnamese government continues to detain and imprison human rights defenders, sentencing them to long prison terms. In the last few years, the Vietnamese government has intensified its crackdown on human rights defenders, using vague penal codes to suppress freedom of expression.
Since the Cybersecurity Law went into effect in January 2019, the Vietnamese authorities have used social media posts from platforms such as Facebook to arrest and imprison activists. Defend the Defenders reported that by the end of 2020, Vietnam had at least 258 prisoners of conscience. During the pandemic, more than 50 peaceful activists have been arrested. Some have been sentenced for up to 15 years, simply for criticizing government policy and raising their voice against injustices. Most recently, Facebooker Tran Hoang Huan (Fb Huan Tran) was arrested for calling on the government to waive the electricity and water bills for 3 months to help Vietnamese citizens during the pandemic.
The United States’ effort in providing aid to combat COVID-19 is necessary and commendable. However, the Vietnamese government’s violation of human rights must not be ignored. We believe the United States can further affirm its global leadership by demanding that Vietnam respects human rights and releases all prisoners of conscience for their peaceful activism. Vietnam has increasingly committed to global economic integration and regional security cooperation. It is imperative that Vietnam also adheres to the protection of human rights based on its international obligations in order to foster regional stability and security.
Thus, while visiting Vietnam, we urge you to:
- Address the human rights situation with the Vietnamese government and request for the release of all prisoners of conscience, including Le Dinh Luong, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Pham Chi Dung, Chau Van Kham, Ho Duc Hoa, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Nguyen Thuy Hanh, Pham Doan Trang, Can Thi Theu, Dinh Thi Thu Thuy, Huynh To Nga, and Tran Thi Xuan.
- Request the Vietnamese government to respect freedom of expression, freedom of the internet and to cease arbitrary detention of citizens who express their critical views on social media.
- Arrange a meeting with human rights defenders and civil society, either face-to-face or online, to have a better understanding of the human rights challenges facing Vietnam.
- Request the Vietnamese government to ensure a safe environment for the growth of independent civil society organizations, as protected by the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam has ratified.
Brotherhood for Democracy
Reporters Without Borders