June 14, 2017
The Vietnam government’s action to strip Pham Minh Hoang of his Vietnam citizenship is nothing short of outrageous.
This completely unjustified abuse of human rights marks a new low for Hanoi’s treatment of political dissidents because it says that they cannot even be considered Vietnamese, stripping them of their identity and nationhood in one abrupt maneuver.
The international community, especially aid donors to Vietnam, must tell Hanoi that this abuse cannot be allowed to stand, the President’s letter must be rescinded, and the action must be immediately reversed.
This should be a lesson that such extreme government retaliation against political activists cannot happen without Vietnam suffering a major loss of international prestige and respect. It’s time to act now to ensure that no other Vietnamese political activists face such a dire punishment like losing citizenship in the future.
Pham Minh Hoang, now in his early sixties, was born in Vung Tau in what is now Ba Ria-Vung Tau province and went to France to study in 1973. He returned to Vietnam as a French citizen in 2000 and taught applied science at the Ho Chi Minh City Polytechnic University. Pham Minh Hoang, who blogs under the pen name Phan Kien Quoc, was arrested on August 13, 2010, for his alleged affiliation with the outlawed party Viet Tan, a group that once espoused rebellion against the communist government but later changed its approach for peaceful means.
He was convicted on August 10, 2011, on charges of “conducting activities to subvert the administration,” under article 79 of the penal code. He was sentenced to three years in prison, to be followed by three years on probation.
In his blog, he wrote about a variety of social and political issues in Vietnam. He has advocated respecting workers’ rights and human rights and promoted national reconciliation, freedom of expression, and democracy.
Since mid-2016 Vietnamese officials arrested at least a dozen bloggers and activists and charged them with vaguely-defined national security violations. As of January 2017, Vietnam had at least 112 bloggers and activists who are serving prison sentences simply for exercising their rights to basic freedoms such as freedom of expression, assembly, association, and religion. Human Rights Watch has long called for the repeal of all laws in Vietnam that criminalize peaceful expression.
Phil Robertson is deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, oversees the organization’s work throughout Asia, especially in Southeast Asia, North Korea and Japan.
Source: The New Lens