Viet Tan Update – Global Campaign to Support Democracy Activists in Vietnam

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March 3, 2007

Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party) is launching a Global Campaign to Support Democracy Activists in Viet Nam from March 3-11, 2007. The campaign was initiated in response to the escalation of human rights and political oppressions by the Vietnamese Communist Authorities upon democracy activists in Vietnam. It involves hunger strikes and peaceful public rallies in many countries.

In November 2006, Viet Tan has alerted the international community that the Vietnamese Communist Regime would carry out massive political oppressions once achieving its goals of successfully gaining entry into the World Trade Organization; establishing Permanent Normal Trade Relation with the United States and having its name withdrawn from the list of Countries of Particular Concern.

Two months later, on the threshold of the Lunar New Year, Vietnamese Communist Authorities have escalated its crack down on key democracy activists and independent churches. On the morning of February 3, Attorneys Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, Engineers Bach Ngoc Duong, Pham Van Troi and two other democracy activists were arrested and detained without a warrant at attorney Dai’s office. They were interrogated and treated harshly through out. Mr Bach Ngoc Duong and attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan were not allowed to access drinking water and toiletry needs. At one stage, during the interrogation, Mr Bach Ngoc Duong was assaulted by the police. He was punched on the face with his glasses broken while another officer strangled his neck.

At the same time, in the province of Gia Lai, Central High-lands young Christians Degar-Montagnards were arrested and beaten at local police station. The police used Karate and Kung Fu to strike at these young men, as if they were “practicing martial arts”. Both 21-year-old Yum and Grun sustained severe facial and head injuries. Yum became unconscious during the beating and neither was able to resume work for sometimes later. Latest report from Human Rights Watch revealed that more than 350 Christian Montagnards are still being imprisoned throughout Vietnam and there is compelling evidence of torture and mistreatment of these detainees for their peacefully political and religious activities.

After being assaulted by the po-lice during the arrest on February 3, Mr. Bach Ngoc Duong and his family were forcibly taken to the local government office where they were denounced in public trial and accused of espionage. The local authority then forced Mr. Bach’s family to sign an agreement of self-detaining Mr. Bach at home.

Similarly, on the evening of February 8, Public Security A42 mobilized about 200 people aged between 60 and 90, whom they called themselves the People Assembly, to Bach Khoa’s local government office. It is there that they put attorney Nguyen Van Dai, a Hellman/Hammett prize recipient, on public trial denouncing him of being a reactionary element and treason. The public denouncement lasted more than 2 hours in which Dai was not allowed to speak. They then forced him to sign a confession statement and demanded to provoke Dai’s attorney license. However, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai refused to sign and responded, “You may kill me, but I will never sign”.

Furthermore, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, the Vietnamese Communist Regime unleashed its plans of terrorism against democracy activists in Hue, mainly targeting at the outspoken human rights activist, Father Nguyen Van Ly. The security police surrounded and raided Hue Archdiocese. They ransacked Father Ly’s office, confiscated his computers and arrested him. He is presently placed under house arrest with a prospect of pos-sibly facing a longterm prison again.

Meanwhile, numerous Vietnamese democracy activists are suffering in prison such as the case of Journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, whose health is deteriorating due to being denied of basic medical care; others whose their whereabouts are currently unknown, include Mr. Hong Trung, Mr. Huynh Viet Lang, Mr. Nguyen Hoang Long, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Quang, Mr. Truong Quoc Huy, Mr. Nguyen Tan Hoanh, Mr. Tran Quoc Hien, Mr. Vu Hoang Hai, Mr. Pham Ba Hai…etc.

For those courageous democracy activists who are currently facing a brutal and dictatorial Vietnamese Communist Regime; for the cause of Human Rights, Freedom and Democracy that we are all cherished, Viet Tan is appealing to all people to take action and to stand in solidarity in supporting the Global Campaign To Support Democracy Activists In Viet Nam .

Vietnamese Communist Party’s Recent Terror Campaign in the News

Excerpt from AFP article” Vietnamese police investigate Catholic priest“

Hanoi, February 25, 2007 (AFP) Earlier Sunday, the priest’s supporters said Vietnamese security forces had transferred Ly, 59, from his home to a more isolated parish, calling the move part of a human rights crackdown. Ly, a pro-democracy activist in the central city of Hue, was taken from his house Saturday by some 60 public security officers, said a Californiabased spokesman for the outlawed Vietnam Reform Party.

Ly, a member of Vietnam’s “Bloc 8406” pro-democracy coalition — which is also banned in the one-party state — has spent a total of 14 years in prison since 1983, but was released in a 2005 amnesty. Last Sunday, police again raided his Hue home and those of other activists. Ly had been under house arrest since, with police stationed outside his home, said various pro-democracy groups.

The state-run Vietnam News Agency accused Ly of “inciting and gathering some elements against the authority.”

On Saturday afternoon, police moved in again, and “Father Nguyen Van Ly was taken to Ben Cui parish, a small and isolated Catholic parish located 20 kilometres from Hue,” said the Vietnam Reform Party, citing local witnesses. “Relocation of a Catholic priest is the sole authority of the bishop, but the Vietnamese authorities have removed Father Nguyen Van Ly and placed him at a different parish without the consent of the Archbishop of Hue.

“This action is regarded as an effort by the regime to further isolate Father Nguyen Van Ly. No one has contact with Father Ly at the moment.”

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Source: Vietnamese VTV2 Public Security in Hue raiding Father Ly’s house, taking him and his computer away

The police moves come weeks after Vietnam signalled greater religious tolerance, and follow a landmark January 25 meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in the Vatican. But the Vietnam Reform Party said the raids were part of a crackdown on pro-democracy activists that followed Vietnam’s recent diplomatic successes, including hosting an Asia-Pacific summit last year and gaining WTO entry.

“The crackdown was indeed anticipated,” said the Vietnam Reform Party activist. “If no international pressure is put on the regime, the chances of a further widespread crackdown are big.”

Democracy Movement in Vietnam Since 2006

Excerpt from Human Rights Watch 2007 Report Democracy Movement

In April 2006 more than 100 people publicly signed an “Appeal for Freedom of Political Association” and a “Manifesto for Freedom and Democracy.” The initiators of the movement (called the 8406 Bloc, after the date of the Manifesto) included Father Nguyen Van Ly, dissident Hoang Minh Chinh, and writer Do Nam Hai. By August, more than 2,000 people had signed the public appeals.

In October, activists announced the creation of an independent labor union as an alternative to the party-controlled labor confederation. Dissidents also launched several un-sanctioned independent publications during 2006, including Tu Do Ngon Luan (“Freedom of Expression”) and Tu Do Dan Chu (“Freedom and Democracy”).

The government responded by detaining and interrogating many of the more prominent activists and confiscating their documents, computers, and cell phones.

Free Expression and the Internet Vietnam’s Law on Publications strictly bans publications that oppose the government, divulge state secrets, or disseminate “reactionary” ideas. There are few privately-owned media outlets; most publications are published by the government, the Party, or Party-controlled organizations. In 2006 the state media, which have usually been allowed to write about corruption, covered the embezzlement of government and donor funds by transportation ministry officials.

The government blocks websites considered objectionable or politically sensitive, monitors email and online forums, and makes internet cafe owners responsible for information accessed and transferred on the internet by their customers. A new law, Decree No. 56, “Administrative Sanctions on Information and Culture Activities,” calls for steep fines for activities such as circulating “harmful” information, defaming the nation and national heroes, or revealing “party secrets, state secrets, military secrets and economic secrets.” Repression of Dissent Activists who launch unsanctioned publications or use the internet to disseminate opinions critical of the government are harassed, detained, and imprisoned.

At this writing, at least two cyber-dissidents remained in prison. Nguyen Vu Binh is serving a seven year sentence for espionage for his internet postings, testimony submitted in writing to the US Congress on human rights, and communication with activists inside Vietnam and abroad. Truong Quoc Huy, detained in 2005 for more than eight months after participating in internet discussions about democracy, was re-arrested in an internet cafe on August 18, 2006. He had reportedly expressed public support for the democracy movement.

In mid April two journalists were detained at Ho Chi Minh City airport and prevented from attending a conference in Manila on free expression in Asian cyberspace. On April 20 police arrested two Montagnard students and held them for 18 days in a district prison in Dak Lak, where they were beaten, interrogated, and accused of using the internet to send lists of political prisoners to advocacy groups abroad.

On June 30 police raided the home of dissident Nguyen Thanh Giang and confiscated books and documents. On August 12 police raided the homes of five dissidents, including Nguyen Khac Toan, Nguyen Van Dai, and Hoang Tien, as they prepared to launch an independent publication. In October Do Nam Hai and two other dissidents were called for “working sessions” with the police. US citizen Cong Thanh Do (Tran Nam), a representative of the People’s Democracy Party, was arrested on August 14. Upon Do’s expulsion from Vietnam on September 21, the state press said he had been arrested for disseminating anti-government information. At this writing, six Vietnamese arrested in August because of alleged links to the People’s Democracy Party remained in deten-tion.

In November, four Vietnamese and three Vietnamese-Americans arrested in 2005 were sentenced to fifteen months’ imprisonment, or time served, on terrorism charges, for allegedly smuggling radio equipment in to Vietnam. Suspected democracy movement supporters Truong Quoc Huy and three others arrested in August — Nguyen Ngoc Quang, Vu Hoang Hai, and Pham Ba Hai — were charged with conducting anti-government propaganda.

Prisons and Torture

Hundreds of religious and political prisoners remain in prisons throughout Vietnam. They include more than 350 Montagnards who have been sentenced to prison terms since 2001, largely for peaceful political or religious activities, or trying to seek asylum in Cambodia. There is compelling evidence of torture and other mistreatment of detainees. Prisoners are reportedly placed in solitary confinement in cramped, dark, unsanitary cells; and beaten, kicked, and shocked with electric batons. Police officers routinely arrest and detain suspects without written warrants. Trials of dissidents are closed to the public, media, and detainees’ families. Under Administrative Detention Decree 31/CP, individuals can be put under house arrest for alleged national security crimes for up to two years without going before a judge.

Manifesto 2006 on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam April 8, 2006

Excerpt from Manifesto 2006 on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam, April 8, 2006

Dear Compatriots inside and outside of Vietnam,

We, the undersigned, representing hundreds of Vietnamese democracy activists inside Vietnam and all those Vietnamese citizens yearning for True Democracy for Vietnam, hereby unanimously proclaim the following:

Universal Laws Affecting All Societies. History has demonstrated that under every totalitarian regime, whether communist or non-communist, all democratic rights and freedoms are mercilessly repressed, the difference being only in the degree of repression. Unfortunately, to this day the Vietnamese nation is still one of the few that is under the rule of a totalitarian communist regime.

The power structure in Vietnam rejects competition and totally minimizes the possibility of its replacement by something else Because there are no rules and principles regarding fair competition in the current political culture of the country, election after election, people have not been allowed to choose the most deserving individuals and political parties to represent them. For that reason the leadership, management and operational setups become ever more corrupt, and can now be compared to a creaky piece of equipment from the center down to the localities. As a result, Vietnam is now a nation that has fallen way behind other nations in the region and in the world. In the prevailing environment, this shameful national performance and other nation-wide problems are beyond correction. The problem of all problems, the source of all evils, resides in the fact that the CPV (Communist Party of Vietnam) is now the one and only political force leading Vietnam!

That is why today, it is necessary to choose once again a new path for our nation. And a path chosen by the entire nation must necessarily be better than the one cho-sen by just one person or one group of persons. Given that the CPV is, after all, only one component of the nation, it should not claim to speak on behalf of the entire nation! Considering that for almost half a century, from 1954 to 2006, the ruling party in Vietnam has usurped the voice of the nation, it is by no means a legitimate government! Why? Because simply there has not been a single free election during all that time in Vietnam. On the basis of the above realities and the stated universal laws, being fully conscious of our responsibilities as citizens, and faced with the nation’s fate, we would like to declare the following to our Compatriots both inside and outside of Vietnam:

Objective, Methods and Significance of Our Struggle – The highest objective in the struggle to fight for freedom and democracy for the Vietnamese nation today is to make sure that the present political regime in Vietnam is changed in a fundamental way, not through incremental “renovation” steps or, even worse, through insignificant touchups here and there. Concretely speaking, it must be a change from the monolithic, one-party, non-competitive regime that we have at the present time to a pluralistic and multiparty system; one in which there is healthy competition, in accordance with the legitimate requirements of the nation, including at least a clear separation of powers among the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government.

The concrete objective is to re-establish the following fundamental rights of the people: The Freedom of Information and Opinion as defined in the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified on December 16, 1966, and endorsed by Vietnam on September 24, 1982, …

The Freedom of to Assemble, form Associations, Political Parties, Vote and Stand for Elected Offices as defined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 25: .. This means that political parties of every orientation are allowed to fairly compete in a genuine pluralistic and multiparty democracy.

The Freedom to participate in Independent Labor Unions and the Right to Legitimate Strikes in accordance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ratified by the United Nations on December 16, 1966, Articles 7 “…. the promotion and protection of his economic and social interests…[including] the right to strike…” These Labor unions must be independent of, and in practice, not subservi-ent to the state.

The Freedom of Religion as defined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18: “…..These religions must also operate independently; they cannot be made the instruments of the state”.

The method of this struggle must be peaceful and non-violent. The Vietnamese nation must itself be actively engaged in it. Of course, we are extremely thankful for the warm and ever more effective support of all our friends in the world.

This struggle is meant to make the Right Cause triumph over the Bad Cause, and, Progress over Backwardness. There are popular movements that are currently trying to use the laws of life and the tendencies of our time in order to defeat those evil forces that are trying to go against these tendencies and laws. … The one-party political regime must be once and for all buried in the dustbin of history. From such a departing point, the Vietnamese nation will be able to find its best citizens and the most capable political organizations after each election to lead it. The “total triumph of the right cause” principle will be established, and one’s individual life will become better, our society more humane, and our Compatriots will live together on more friendly terms. We hope that this Manifesto would foster the positive contributions of our com-patriots living outside of Vietnam and the support of our international friends. We are sincerely grateful and call on the United Nations, national parliaments, governments, international organizations and our friends all over the world to continue supporting enthusiastically and effectively this fully legitimate struggle. This will soon help bring our Fatherland, Vietnam, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with civilized, moral, prosperous and free countries in today’s community of Mankind.

Eight Vietnanamese Dissidents Win HRW Prestigious Hellman/Hammett Prize

Excerpt from Human Rights Watch press release February 6, 2007

New York, February 6, 2007) – Eight Vietnamese writers are among a diverse group from 22 countries who have received the prestigious Hellman/Hammett award, which recognizes courage in the face of political persecution, Human Rights Watch announced today.

“This is an especially important year to recognize dissident writers in Vietnam,” said Sophie Richard-son, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, which administers the annual award. “Vietnam’s emerging de-mocracy movement has become bolder, more outspoken and public, making activists more vulnerable to government reprisals. The Hellman/Hammett awards give these writers international attention and some protection.”

Human Rights Watch administers the Hellman/Hammett awards, given to writers around the world who have been targets of political persecution. Among this year’s Vietnamese recipients are political prisoner Nguyen Vu Binh, democ-racy activist Do Nam Hai, essayist Nguyen Chinh Ket and novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy.

“These writers’ works and lives embody the Vietnam that the government wants to hide, the one in which there is free speech, independent media, and open access to and use of the internet,” said Richardson. “Those who think that Vietnam’s booming economy means it is loosening up politically should look below the surface, at the plight of writers such as these.” ….

The Vietnamese government made little attempt to hide its efforts to muzzle prominent critics or democracy activists, despite the mass of international journalists in Hanoi during APEC, Vietnam’s largest-ever international gathering.

Key dissidents in Hanoi were placed under lock down. They were ordered not to leave their homes or have any visitors. Police were stationed in front of their homes, which were cordoned off with signs saying “Restricted Area” and “No Foreigners” to prevent any contact with the international press corps. One dissident had his door padlocked and was roughed up after a friend stopped by to visit.

In addition, police arrested at least eight members of a newly formed union, the United Workers and Peasants Organization of Vietnam. Independent trade unions are banned in Vietnam.

Authorities also rounded up rural petitioners in Mai Xuan Thuong Park in Hanoi, who had come to the city to file complaints about corruption and land confiscation. Such abuses are not limited to occasions when Vietnam is in the international spotlight.

“By honoring these writers, we hope to bring international attention to courageous individuals that the Vietnamese government is trying to silence,” said Richardson. “The crackdown on dissidents was largely ignored by governments at the APEC summit, giving Vietnam the impression it has a green light to keep persecuting them.”

The awardees are Nguyen Vu Binh, Do Nam Hai, Nguyen Chinh Ket, Tran Khai Thanh Nguyen Van Dai, Nguyen Khac Toan, Pham Que Duong, Le Chi Quang.

Human Rights Watch’s award recipient and family continue to be terrorized by the Vietnamese Authorities.

Viet Tan Press Release February 9, 2007

Three days after the Human Rights Watch’s official announcement of the 2007 recipients of the prestigious Hellman/Hammett human rights award, Vietnamese authorities carried out their vengeance with a series of terrorist acts targeting recipient and other democracy activists.

Shortly after Human Rights Watch announcement, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to respond when enquired about the current state of political and human rights violations, claiming that ” Vietnam has no political oppression” and condemning Human Rights Watch for issuing distorted information about the situation in Vietnam, yet cases of human rights abuses and political repression continue to occur on a daily basis. After arresting and interrogating Attorneys Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan, Engineer Bach Ngoc Duong, Nguyen Phuong Anh and Pham Van Troi without warrant on February 3, the Vietnamese authorities now turn to their family as a tactic to intimidate and pressure these activists from voicing their opinions.

Similarly, on the evening of February 8, Public Security A42 mobilized about 200 people aged between 60 and 90, whom they called themselves the People Assembly, to Bach Khoa’s local government office. It is there that they put attorney Nguyen Van Dai on public trial denouncing him of being a reactionary element and treason. The public denouncement lasted more than 2 hours in which Dai was not allowed to speak. They then forced him to sign a confession statement and demanded to provoke Dai’s attorney license. However, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai refused to sign and responded, “You may kill me, but I will never sign”.

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Protest in canberra, Australia

Such cowardly plots by the Vietnamese authorities above only further expose the severity of human rights and political oppression in Vietnam. Viet Tan condemn these acts of terrorism and calls on international leaders and human rights organizations to demand the Vietnamese Authorities immediately ceasing all forms of persecutions against those who peacefully practicing their basic rights.

Call for Support of Voices of Conscience

These are only some of the many dissidents that are either currently being harassed, un-der house arrest or imprisoned.

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Vietnam Human Roghts protest

Bach Ngoc Duong recently being arrested and interrogated without a warrant on Feb 3, 2007. He was assaulted by the police during the interrogation. At one stage, he was punched on the face with his glasses broken while an-other officer strangled his neck.

Father Chan Tin – well known for his human rights works. In December 2000, Father Chan Tin issued a joint statement calling on the government to “fully respect the true religious freedom of all religion. Authorities currently maintain close surveillance around the residence of Father Chan Tin, often interrogating visitors.

Father Phan Van Loi In 1981 Father Loi wrote and performed a short play portrayed the government’s harassment of Father Nguyen Van Ly. For this performance, Father Loi was sentenced to four years in jail. Four others also received jail terms ranging from two to three and a half years. Father Phan Van Loi is currently under de facto house arrest.

Father Nguyen Van Ly In 1983 he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and 4 years probation. Released in July 1992, Father Ly was placed under police surveillance. Recent harassment of father Nguyen Van Ly takes place on the eve of the 2007 Lunar New Year, , and forced him to relocate to an isolated parish located 20 Km away from Hue. He is currently under house arrest.

Hong Trung is in his mid forties, is co-founder of the newly formed Lac Hong Alliance. He was arrested during the Lunar New Year. His whereabouts is unknown. Huynh Viet Lang is a 38-year-old journalist and cyber dissident. In September 2006 he was arrested together with Nguyen Hoang Long for distributing pam-phlets and posting political docu-ments online

Le Thi Cong Nhan is 28 years old. She is a lawyer and a dissident. She is also a founder member and spokeswoman for the newly founded Vietnam Progression Party. At the threshold of Lunar New Year 2007 the goons of A42 took her in for questioning. They have provided no authority for their blockading of Cong Nhan and her home – no warrant, or court order, or documentation from a higher authority. Le Thi Cong Nhan is constantly subject to harassment and interrogation.

Dr. Nguyen Dan Que. In 1990, Dr. Que and his associates founded the Non-violent Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam. The movement called upon the Hanoi regime to respect basic human rights, to accept a multiparty system. For this appeal, the government arrested him on June 14, 1990. Nguyen Dan Que was condemned to another 20 years of hard labor and 5 years of house arrest after that. He has been a repeated nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang A Mennonite pastor trained as a lawyer, Nguyen Hong Quang has been arrested and detained numerous times in connection with his work documenting attacks on the Vietnamese Protestant Mennonite community and for evangelistic activities.

Nguyen Hoang Long 48-year-old cyber dissident was arrested in September 2006 for distributing pamphlets and posting political documents online.

Pham Ba Hai and Nguyen Ngoc Quang are members of the Bloc 8406. In early August of 2006, Nguyen Ngoc Quang, and Pham Ba Hai were summoned by Saigon Public Security for interrogation for their membership in the Bloc 8406. Nguyen Ngoc Quang and Pham Ba Hai recorded the entire interrogation and posted it on the Internet. Since then, the outside world has learned of the practices that violate human rights committed by the Public Security toward these two citizens in particular and to the Vietnamese people in general. They were arrested after that.

Nguyen Tan Hoanh is in his thirties and is one of the founders of the United Workers and Peasants Organization of Vietnam. He was arrested together with 5 other dissidents in December 2006. His whereabouts is unknown.

Dr Pham Hong Son In 2002 Pham Hong Son distributed two texts: “The Welcoming Signs for Democracy in Vietnam?” and “What is Democracy” which had appeared on the US Embassy in Hanoi website and which Pham Hong Son and an associate translated into Vietnamese. In 2003 Pham Hong Son was convicted of “espionage” in a closed trial lasting one day. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison (later reduced to 5 years) and three years of house arrest.

The Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang Since 1982, from his place of internal exile he has sent out a series of pronouncements admonishing the Vietnamese government to reform its ways. These statements have put him in deeper trouble still with the authorities. In April 2003, Venerable Thich Huyen Quang was released from housearrest after over twenty years. Todayhe is under close surveillanceoftheVietnamesePublic Security.

TheMostVenerable Thich Quang Do. In 1995 he was convicted to 5 years in prison. The chief evidence was only his attempt in trying to organize an emergency food convoy to flood victims in the Mekong delta and the distribution of letters written by the patriarch of the UBCV, who was under house arrest. He was released from prison in 1998 and was under intermittent house arrest until June 2003. He was nominated for the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize by 200 parliamentari-ans from the US, Canada, Australia, France and Belgium. In 2006, he won the Rafto Human Rights Award.

Tran Quoc Hien, spokesperson of a banned group, the newly formed United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam.

Truong Quoc Huy. Aged 25, Truong Quoc Huy was arrested by plain-clothes police after they followed him into an Internet café and found him participating in a pro-democracy Paltalk program. Mr. Truong was later accused of inciting the population to “over-throw the government”. Other cases involved similar violations of citizens’ freedom of expression.

Nguyen Vu Binh, 38, is serving a seven-year prison sentence for articles he wrote criticizing the government. One of the first members of Vietnam’s emerging democracy movement, Binh re-signed in 2000 from his prestigious journalism post at the party’s Communist Review and tried to form an independent political party and an anti-corruption association. After submitting written testimony about human rights violations in Vietnam to the US Congress and circulating articles critical of the Vietnamese government on the internet in 2002, Binh was arrested and convicted on charges of “espionage” after an unfair trial.

Do Nam Hai. Aged 48, a banking professional, was one of the principal organizers of the April 2006 public petition campaign, “Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam” and the Democracy and Human Rights Alliance, a virtually unprecedented movement in recent years with broad geographical representation. Since October 2006, authorities have subjected him to constant detention, interrogation and even physical attacks. He is followed day and night by security police. During the APEC summit in November, police seized him on the street to prevent him from participating in a news conference organized by the alliance. His most recent detention by the police was in late January 2006.

Nguyen Chinh Ket. Aged 54, since 2001, he has quietly become one of the leading Vietnamese activists, through his essays, free-lance reports, and role in organizing meetings among dissidents. He is a leader in the Democracy and Human Rights Alliance, as well as founder of the Free Journalists Association in Vietnam, which groups independent reporters and bloggers. In November 2006, he was summoned by police for interrogation several times.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is a novelist and journalist. She is one of the editors of the dissident bulletin To Quoc (Fatherland), which is printed clandestinely in Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City, and is circulated on the internet. She has been repeatedly denounced and humiliated in public meetings organized by the authorities. These include the “People’s Court” in October 2006, where police gathered 300 people in a public stadium to insult her. In November 2006, she was dis-missed from her job. She was locked in her house by authorities during the November 2006 APEC meetings.

Nguyen Van Dai is one of Vietnam’s only practicing human rights lawyers, and a founder of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam, which was launched in 2006. He has written articles about democracy and press freedom, and was detained in August 2006, as he and other dissidents were planning to launch an independent bulletin. In February 2007, security agents reportedly ransacked his house.

Nguyen Khac Toan, 51, is an activist who was released from prison in February 2006. He remains under house arrest, and reports that there is a permanent police post in front of his home. He has helped farmers and military veterans draft appeals to the government, which, along with his own writings, have been dissemi-nated on the internet. He was arrested in 2002 at an internet café and sentenced to 12 years on espionage charges. He was released after four years, in February 2006. Since his release, he has continued to campaign for democratic re-forms, helping to launch an independent labor union and the Free-dom and Democracy newsletter.

Hoang Minh Chinh, 84, General Secretary of the Democracy XXI Party. A former Communist Party member, who had criticized and proposed democratic reforms within the Communist Party. Both of his stances placed him in direct confrontation with the prevailing view. In 1967, Hoang Minh Chinh wrote a 200-page document, Dogmatism in Vietnam, criticizing the Communist Party. As a result, communist authorities imprisoned him twice for eleven years (1967-1972 and 1981-1987) and put him under house arrest for nine more years (1972-1978 and 1987-1990). He was arrested again in 1995 and imprisoned for one year. Currently, he is under close police surveillance

Pham Que Duong, 75, is one of the respected leaders of Vietnam’s democracy movement, and comes from within the Vietnamese Communist Party itself. A military historian, editor and writer, he is known for outspoken ex-pression of his views – most notably, his resignation from the Vietnamese Communist Party in January 1999 He has written many articles, appeals and open letters to Vietnam’s leadership, calling for democracy and human rights. He is one of the editors of the dissident bulletin To Quoc (Father-land).He has been detained and placed under house arrest many times.

Le Chi Quang, 36, is a young law student and democracy activist who was arrested at an internet café in 2002 and sentenced to four years in prison on national security charges. He was released early because of international pressure and health problems, including kidney disease. After his release in June 2004, he was put under three years’ house arrest. He is constantly harassed and interrogated by police at his home or at police stations. The harassment has become harsher since he joined the editorial staff of the To Quoc bulletin.


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