The son of jailed prominent Vietnamese blogger Bui Thi Minh Hang, in the United States to highlight his mother’s plight, has appealed to the international community to help find justice for her as she prepares to face a trial in two weeks on public order charges.
Tran Bui Trung, 23, said that Hang’s case seemed to have “already been determined” by the one-party communist administration in Hanoi and called on foreign governments and rights groups to push for the release of his mother and other Vietnamese activists targeted for expressing dissent.
“The main thing that I can do is to proclaim my mother’s innocence and to call out to the rest of the world, wherever I believe there are people who can help my mother,” he told RFA’s Vietnamese Service in an interview in Washington.
“Wherever there are people who can potentially save my mother, I plead for help from wherever I can. That is my current situation: a child finding justice for my mother because I see the unjustness in her arrest and [likely] sentencing.”
Trung said that Hang’s detention since February on charges of “disturbing the public order” and “obstructing traffic” was typical of actions taken by the authoritarian government to stamp out dissent, and demonstrates what he called Vietnam’s poor rights record.
“I think that my mother’s [situation] is just like that of many others imprisoned in Vietnam—a sentence that is already in the bag. She hasn’t even had a trial yet, but her sentence has already been determined by the regime’s authorities,” he said.
“But with any sentence—whether in my mother’s case or those of other prisoners of conscience … it is clear that the Vietnamese government does not honor or respect human rights, nor does it honor or respect any agreement it has signed with the United Nations.”
Hang was taken into custody on Feb. 11 while on her way to visit the home of rights lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen’s wife in southern Vietnam’s Dong Thap province, two days after Truyen was taken into custody in a massive police operation.
In March, five other activists refused to sign testimonies they gave to police over the charges faced by Hang, claiming their statements were fabricated to implicate the blogger.
Hang, who has been an outspoken critic of China’s claims to islands in the South China Sea it disputes with Vietnam, is currently being held at a facility in Dong Thap and is set to go to trial on Aug. 26. She faces several months in prison if convicted.
Trung, who arrived in the U.S. for a two-week visit on Aug. 4, has met with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress and several human rights groups in Washington during his trip, as well as members of the Vietnamese American community in California.
He said he was assured by U.S. officials and representatives of rights groups that they would pay close attention to his mother’s case, as well as those of other jailed Vietnamese activists.
“After working with several organizations and communities in the United States, the first thing that I felt from the bottom of my heart was happiness that the work of my mother … is known to many people and by many groups,” he said.
“I also realize … that the human rights situation in Vietnam is being more closely watched than ever before.”
Trung said that as a young man whose father had passed away he had been forced to grow up quickly after his mother’s detention and began to commit himself to learning about the campaigning she does.
“That is one of the reasons why I want to expand on my mother’s work and act on it outside of Vietnam because … I am one of the direct voices [about what is happening] in the country,” he said.
“Doing so will help to bring her efforts and knowledge about the country’s human rights situation to the world’s attention.”
The young man called on the family members of other political prisoners in Vietnam to continue their efforts to free them and not to lose hope.
“If you believe that what you are doing is correct—if you believe that what your loved one has done is completely reasonable and completely right—then you must keep fighting until the end, because justice will always prevail.”
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Serena Doan. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.