The online Brotherhood for Democracy advocacy group today slammed Vietnamese authorities’ arrests and upcoming trial of five group members, calling the scheduled April 5 court hearing a violation of Vietnam’s international commitments to protect the peaceful expression of political views.
Writing in a Facebook posting on March 26, the Vietnam-based group said that the five members had been involved only in protecting the environment, promoting an open political system, and calling international attention to human rights abuses in the one-party communist state.
“Those are peaceful activities, and are the basic rights of the people, as guaranteed in the [United Nations] Universal Declarations of Human Rights, which Vietnam has signed,” the group said in its posting.
“The government of Vietnam should have let the Brotherhood for Democracy, other civil society organizations, and the people themselves work together towards a democratic and multiparty political system in Vietnam.”
“However, the Vietnamese government has instead used these activities as an excuse to increase their crackdown and arrests of group members,” the Brotherhood said.
Speaking on Monday to RFA’s Vietnamese Service, Brotherhood for Democracy spokesperson Nguyen Thuy Quynh said her group’s call is to draw the attention of the international community and overseas Vietnamese to the coming trial, whose April 5 date was announced on March 20.
“They may receive very harsh sentences,” Quynh said. “But fighting for freedom and democracy is not a crime, so we want to raise our voice about our mission, which is to promote true democracy in Vietnam.”
“We call on the government to immediately release all our members, and we urge international organizations to raise their voices so that all prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, including the members of our group, can be free.”
In July, August, and September 2017, six members of the Brotherhood for Democracy, an online advocacy group founded in 2013, were arrested and jailed under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, a vaguely worded provision of the law used to silence dissenting voices in the country.
In May, jailed human rights attorney and activist Nguyen Van Dai, a founding member of the group, received an award in absentia from the German Association of Judges, the Deutscher Richterbund, honoring him for his work in human rights.
All media is state-controlled in Vietnam and rights groups have identified Article 79—working to “overthrow the People’s government”—as among a set of vague provisions that authorities have used to detain dozens of writers and bloggers in recent years.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.