Vietnam NGOs in Appeal to APEC Leaders Over Rights Crackdown

By Paul Eckert
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Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, chairman of APEC Senior Officials' Meetings and spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang attend a press conference in Da Nang, Nov. 7, 2017.
Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, chairman of APEC Senior Officials' Meetings and spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang attend a press conference in Da Nang, Nov. 7, 2017.

A group of 17 non-governmental organizations wrote a joint letter on Tuesday urging world leaders attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit later this week to press host Vietnam to free bloggers and rights defenders.

The letter targetted U.S. President Donald Trump, China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin, among other leaders set to join the main summit of the  21 member  APEC on Friday and Saturday in Da Nang.

"In a series of sham trials, the Vietnamese government has orchestrated the wrongful conviction and sentencing of prominent human rights defenders and bloggers,"  said the letter.

The letter mentioned Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Van Oai, and Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh. Quynh, arrested in October 2016 and Nga, arrested in January of this year were sentenced to 10 and nine years’ imprisonment respectively. Oai was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of house arrest for resisting police officers and leaving his home while on probation

"The Vietnamese government has used unsubstantiated national security concerns to justify, and illegitimate charges to carry out, the criminalization of free expression, dissemination of information, and peaceful advocacy," said the NGO letter.

"Arbitrary detention, censorship, and state-sponsored violence against activists and human rights defenders are not only an affront to our common humanity but a grave violation of international human rights laws and standards," read the letter.

Among the 17 NGOs tat signed the letter are Access Now,  Brotherhood for Democracy, English PEN, Frontline Defenders, the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, Reporters Without Borders, the Viet Labor Movement and Viet Tan.

Tuesday's letter came a week after a group of 40 Western and Vietnamese scholars and experts on Vietnam sent a statement to Hanoi government and Communist Party leaders, denouncing the jailing of Quynh and Nga.

The statement’s 40 signatories include foreign and Vietnamese scholars from leading universities in Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, and The United Kingdom as well as engineers and independent researchers.

By Amnesty International’s count, Vietnam is currently holding at least 84 prisoners of conscience, the highest number in any country in Southeast Asia.

Comments (2)

Hate Communist

from ghet bac Ho

Why push a thorny crown of hardships and injustices upon the people’s brows?
It has been 42 years; you goons must know and hear the people voices by now. Clearly, you goons aren’t working for the people or the country needs but the Party priorities – sustain both yourselves and profits by bleeding the people and VN richness.
The world knows these evil actions and not condones them. If you want the world to view VN and your Party differently, you need to shed the stupid red flag and communism. The world will come with more richness only if you play nicely and respect your citizens.
That isn’t asking too much or hard to accommodate? Is it better than playing a fool by ‘dangling a carrot’ in front of the world every time you need assistance? Think about it!

Nov 08, 2017 02:47 PM


I hope it'll work though considering the overall political climate, I'm not holding a breath and chances of it happening are very low.

Vietnam needs more social, legal and environmental activists that helps improve the country (even if done discretly) as a whole and don't let Communist Party controls so much of everything. Eventually one day it will help grant wishes to people chose their own government. I would love to see the Vietnamese Communist regime collapse in less than a decade in that while it did improve freedom in general in some, it regress in others areas (especially so as of late) so wish me luck.

Nov 08, 2017 09:30 AM





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