February 13, 2008
Last week, 20 Norwegian MPs sent a joint letter to Hanoi president Nguyen Minh Triet. They wrote:
“Norway as a nation is fully dedicated to encouraging democracy and protecting human rights throughout the world. With that being said, we are extremely concerned for Dr. Quan, Mr. Khunmi, Mr. Vu and Mr. Trung. It has been over two months since their arrests and they continue to be detained without formal charges or fair trials; which shows that the Government of Vietnam has failed to improve its human rights record.” This protest came days after letters from US Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, 55 members of the California legislature and numerous international human rights organizations against the repression of peaceful political speech. On November 17, 2007, communist authorities arrested members and supporters of Viet Tan—Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, journalist Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, Mr. Leon Truong, Mr. Somsak Khunmi, Mr. Nguyen The Vu, and Mr. Nguyen Viet Trung—as they were preparing to distribute materials promoting democracy through non-violent means. After nearly a month of detention, authorities released Nguyen Thi Thanh Van and Leon Truong due to heavy international pressure, but continue to detain the other individuals.
Since the arrests, US Consular officials have been allowed to see Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan twice under restrictive conditions. During both visits, prison authorities prevented Dr. Quan from receiving a letter from his wife. He has also not been allowed to receive assistance from relatives living in Saigon. In the Vietnamese prison system, inmates must generally purchase their own food and essentials. Somsak Khunmi has not been allowed visits or assistance from family either. The brothers Nguyen The Vu and Nguyen Viet Trung got one family visit, on February 1, for 15 minutes.
The above cases—along with that of novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy who was secretly put on trial and released after nine months of detention—demonstrate the arbitrariness of the Vietnam legal system and how authorities use laws to repress human rights.
In the face of these challenges, Viet Tan will continue pursuing democratic change through peaceful, nonviolent means inside Vietnam; and lobbying international public opinion to support the Vietnamese democracy movement and to pressure Hanoi to respect agreements on human rights to which the regime is a signatory.
Viet Tan expresses our sincere thanks to all the individuals, organizations, and governments who have called on Hanoi to release the peaceful democracy activists arrested nearly three months ago.
Duy Hoang +1 (202) 470-1678
Chi Dang +1 (408) 228-4892