The Swiss-Vietnam Committee (COSUNAM) sent an open letter to the Vietnamese Ambassador in Switzerland and called for the release of blogger and environmental activist Le Dinh Luong and other prisoners of conscience before the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam in 2019.
Attn: His Excellency
Ambassador Pham Hai Bang
September 3 2018
We address this letter to you to express our deepest indignation concerning the sentencing of Le Dinh Luong to 20 years prison and 5 years house arrest on July 30.
Le Dinh Luong is a blogger, an environmental and civil society activist who has not participated, encouraged or supported any form of violence against Vietnamese authorities. An active member within the Catholic community in Vinh province, he participated in various events and prayer vigils for prisoners of conscience and the victims of the Formosa environmental disaster along the central coast of Vietnam in April 2016.
We have seen Le Dinh Luong’s videos and posts on Facebook which depict public discontent over the Vietnamese government’s mishandling of the disaster. His articles only show corruption and police brutality.
He was himself a victim of police brutality in Lam Dong province in August 2015. Luong and his friends were violently attacked by plainclothes policemen after visiting Tran Minh Nhat after he was released from prison.
The arbitrary sentence of 20 years prison is the maximum sentence provided for by Clause 1 of Article 79 of the 1999 Vietnamese Penal Code. It is also the most severe prison sentence imposed on a human rights defender in the last decade.
For the past two years, it has become clear that your government is conducting a wide campaign against freedom of expression in defiance of your international obligations.
A few months before the Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam to be held in Geneva in January 2019, we strongly urge you to prove your good will towards the Swiss and international community by immediately and unconditionally releasing the hundreds of prisoners of conscience including Le Dinh Luong.
Luy Nguyen Tang