Category Archives: News and Reports

Police Forces Lay Seige To Dr. Nguyen Dan Que’s House

[Editor’s note: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que is an endocrinologist and well-known pro-democracy advocate in Vietnam.  Dr. Nguyen has served several prison sentences totaling over 20 years for various state security charges related to his activism.  In 1995, Que was given the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. The Center praised his work “promoting greater freedom of expression and human rights in Vietnam.”  This post details the most recent injustice perpetrated on Dr. Nguyen by the Communist government.]

For the last two days, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que’s home has been been surrounded by police forces, isolating his family from the rest of the outside world.  This raises much concern about the imminent raid on his house, and also the arrest awaiting Dr. Que . Dr. Nguyen Dan Que is a leading dissident in Vietnam, and also one of the first to sign the Declaration of Free Citizens.

An urgent news report from the Association for Democracy said, “Beginning the evening of 7/3/2013, a police force was mobilized to block and surround the home of Dr. Nguyen Dan Que at 104 / 20, Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 3, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Saigon.”

The latest information coming in on March 8, 2013 is that police forces continue to pour in. All four roads leading into the home of Dr. Que police are blocked.

According to the Association for Democracy, the pressure being applied to Dr. Que is probably due to the fact that he was involved in signing many of the Declarations of the Movement for Democracy in Vietnam. Dr. Que was one of the first to publicly put pen to sign a statement of support of the People of Freedom.

Additionally as of late, Dr. Que has had many meetings with the younger generation of activists fighting for human rights and democracy in Vietnam.  He has hosted many visitors who support bringing democracy to the country of Vietnam.

The group Rallying for Democracy is concerned that “with a large force, the police could burst into and the search home of Dr. Que at any moment, as has happened on 3/2011.”

On February 25, 2012, more than a dozen policemen raided his home and arrested him after he published his popular appeal ‘Stand Proudly Declared : Freedom or Live Flesh!’  He made this statement during the Arab Spring when the people of the Middle East were fighting to remove dictators in those countries. The case increased his reputation, brought attention to his struggle, which finally forced authorities to release him after three days in custody.

Dr. Nguyen Dan Que is the founder of Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam.  He is considered one of the pioneers in the democracy movement in Vietnam and is internationally known. Throughout his life as an activist, he has been jailed by the Communist regime for more than 20 years. In recent years, many reputable individuals from around the world have nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.



Reporters Without Borders Awards Vietnamese blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh

Reporters Without Borders, with support from Google®, Thursday awarded its 2013 Netizen of the Year award to Vietnamese blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh.
Reporters Without Borders chose the nominees from more than 40,000 Internet users who visited their YouTube® site from around the world. They selected the winner on the Reporters’ YouTube Channel. The award ceremony will take place in Paris on March 12 at the Google office on the occasion of the World Day against Cyber ​​Censorship.
Huynh Ngoc Chenh is one of Vietnam’s most influential bloggers. His blog attracts about 15,000 visitors per day, even though readers must use software to circumvent censorship to gain access. Chenh criticizes the government and defends freedom of expression. He focuses on issues of democracy, human rights and the territorial disputes between Vietnam and China. Authorities have threatened him numerous times for his articles and police monitor his communications.
“This award represents an inspiration to me as well as for all bloggers, independent journalists in Vietnam, those who face the restrictions about the right of freedom of expression,” Huynh Ngoc Chenh said by telephone from Hanoi.
“It demonstrates the world community’s support and will make us more audacious in raising our concerns and continue our struggle for freedom of information. It will help people who are scared of speaking out.”
Vietnam is on the list of “Enemies of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders and is the 172nd out of 179 in the latest World Press Freedom Index. Bloggers and other netizens are facing particular repression. Their relatives are also harassed and threatened. The authorities have stepped up efforts to increase surveillance and remove “sensitive” content. On January 9, 14 dissidents – including 8 bloggers and citizen-journalists – were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 13 years.
With 31 bloggers and citizen-journalists currently behind bars, Vietnam is the third largest prison in the world for netizens behind China and Oman.
“We are pleased to award this prize to a courageous Vietnamese blogger and thereby recognize the activities of online news providers in a country marked by draconian censorship and growing surveillance of dissidents,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
“Despite the risks, bloggers and netizens continue to inform their fellow citizens. In Vietnam, they now fill the void left by the state-run media, which are subjected to very strict news control and relay the government’s views. By tackling subjects that are sensitive but of general interest, Huynh Ngoc Chenh helps freedom of information to progress in his country. He is an example for netizens all over the world to follow.”
Today, according to Google, some 40 countries are engaged in Internet censorship. Google was the first company to publish a transparency report that shows interruptions to the flow of information from our tools and services. Google also is a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder organization — including human rights and press freedom groups, investors, academics, and companies — whose members commit to protect online free expression.
“We’re proud to support Reporters Without Borders with this important prize that highlights the pressure many governments around the globe are are putting on the Internet,” said William Echikson, Head of Free Expression for Europe, Africa and Middle-East at Google. “Our 
 in more than 
services. Initiatives such as the Netizen prize shine a light on those who stand up in support for online free expression.”
Reporters Without Borders launched the World Day against cyber-censorship back in 2008 in order to protect a single Internet, free and accessible to all. Google has partnered with Reporters Without Borders in 2010 to award the annual Netizen who recognizes a user, blogger, or cyber-dissident who has distinguished himself by his advocacy of Internet freedom of expression.
Reporters Without Borders will release on March 12 the 2013 Enemies of the Internet report, a special issue dedicated to online surveillance that points out to a selection of countries and companies.

Journalist Nguyen Dac Kien Fired For Questioning Party Secretary

During a nationally televised program shown on February 25, 2013, Vietnamese Communist Party’s general secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, stated that those who want to abolish article 4 of the constitution, which guarantees the political dominance of the party, are portraying a “political, ideological and ethical deterioration” and need to be stopped.  Nguyen Dac Kien, a journalist from The Family and Society newspaper, immediately took to his blog and wrote: “you are the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. If you want to use the word deterioration, you can only use it in relation to Communist Party members. You can’t say that about Vietnamese people.”  He also mentioned that having a multi-party system is good for the country and that embezzlement and corruption by government officials is the more serious issue.  His post went viral quickly and attracted much attention from the online community.  Unfortunately, the attention eventually caused him to be fired from his job at the newspaper.  In an explanation for his termination, the newspaper stated that it Kien was fired for “violating the operating rules of the newspaper and his labor contract,” and that he is solely “accountable before the law for his behavior.”

In a phone interview, Kien said “I knew that there would be consequences.  I have always expected bad things to happen to me. The struggle for freedom and democracy is very long and I want to go to the end of that road, and I hope I can.”  He also posted on his facebook that “whatever happens, I just want you to understand that I don’t want to be a hero, I don’t want to be an idol. I just think that once our country has freedom and democracy, you will find out that my articles are very normal, really normal, and nothing big.”


Interview With Father of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc

[Editor’s Note: Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is a businessman and a political dissident in Vietnam.  In 2008, he started an online blog titled “Change We Need” where he and his friends published articles regarding Vietnam’s hostile political environment.  He was officially arrested on May 24, 2009 and was found guilty of subversion of the state and is currently serving a 16-year sentence.  Below is an interview with Thuc’s father conducted by people at Danlambao, the most notable Vietnamese blog site.]

Danlambao: First of all, we’d like to ask about your health.

Tran Van Huynh: Thank you, DanLamBao.  My health is good.  Everyday, I walk several kilometers everyday and I also swim.  I need to stay healthy to carry on the struggle for the freedom of my son and other human rights prisoners.

DanlambaoYes, this is a blessing for more than just your family.  According to your interview with Dan Luan after visiting Thuc during the New Year, he is still healthy and is being held in solitary confinement along with composer Viet Khang, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, Phan Ngoc Tuan and Cuong.  Did he mention the health status of these men?

Tran Van Huynh: Thuc said the guys are still healthy and are mentally relaxed. Their families were allowed to visit before the New Year so there is no shortage of food. Moreover, more food was passed out during this New Year holiday season but books and magazines were limited. There are also television, but only programs certified by prison officials are allowed to be shown.

Danlambao: Also according to your interview with Dan Luan, the police interrogated him on the current effort to amend the Constitution. Did he reveal any details regarding this event?

Tran Van Huynh: No, Thuc did not say much.  When he talked about it, he just smiled and mockingly wondered out loud why it needs to be written into the constitution that military forces must swear their absolute loyalty to the Communist Party of Vietnam.  He then said that the “freezing point” is near, within this year.

Danlambao: How does Thuc explain this “freezing point?”

Tran Van Huynh:  Thuc likes to compare Vietnam’s situation to that of water.  Up to a certain point, water will remain liquid but once it reaches 0 ° C, it will freeze and become solid.  Vietnam is experiencing the same transformation.  It is slowly approaching that “freezing point” and when it gets to that stage, people will revolt.

Danlambao:  How will the situation progress after the “freezing point” according to Thuc?

Doctor Tran Van Huynh:  From what I’ve read and what Le Thang Long [another dissident] has discussed with Thuc while they were in jail, different scenarios can happen depending on various social movements. It could be the collapse of the ruling party led by elite intellectuals in Eastern Europe, or a surge as the Soviet Union.  It’s also possible that the masses will start a revolution as is the case with the Arab Spring.  Or it could be like the Burmese where change happens when those in power recognize the right path for their country.  It really boils down to a situation in which the Vietnamese Communist Party itself is not capable of solving national problems including the economic crisis and national sovereignty threatened by the Chinese. Not to mention the problems happening within the Party’s top officials.  The power struggles not only deplete the trust of the people, but also seriously eroded the confidence of party members in the party. Thuc and his friends want the country to avoid this toxic future and instead head towards one with democracy and prosperity. The country needs people that truly believes in building a democratic society for all people on the basis of respect for and protection of all human rights, not discrimination and prejudices against one another.  For such purposes, Thuc and his friends are willing to sacrifice themselves, become subject to imprisonment in order to sow the seeds of hope for a better Vietnam.

Danlambao: How much hope do you have in this vision?

Tran Van Huynh: I believe that is the best way for the country and it will prevail.  During the New Years, I met up with a lot of friends that are Party members and not only do they share this hope, they are actively promoting change. They admit that the Communist Party is becoming helpless in many problem, internally and externally.  Without change, the Party will find it hard to continue to exist.

Danlambao: We hope so too. Late last year, the movement called “Con Duong Vietnam” [Road of Vietnam] said it would publish a book about Thuc, do you know when this will be published and available?

Tran Van Huynh: This book has been completed, named “Tran Huynh Duy Thuc And The Road To Viet Nam.”  No later than the end of this month or early next month, it will launch in conjunction with our effort to fight for the freedom of Thuc and all the human rights prisoners.

Danlambao: We hope and wish for this movement’s success so that Thuc can return home this year.  Thank you for your participation in this interview and we wish you good health so that you can accomplish your goals.

Tran Van Huynh: Thank you, Danlambao, for this valuable interview.  I’d like to wish Danlambao and all your readers a new year with many achievements and all our wishes for our country will be fulfilled.


Humanitarian Workers Report Police Assault

[Editor’s Note: The Lunar New Year (Tet) is a holiday celebrated by Vietnamese.  It is a time for sharing and wishing each other good luck throughout the year.  In the spirit of this significant holiday, a group of humanitarian youths decided to pass out gifts to citizens that are protesting against the government in a land dispute.  The following is the story of their struggle.]

CTV Danlambao – On February 5th, 2013, two young humanitarian volunteers Trinh Anh Tuan and Dao Trang Loan were beaten and arrested by Hanoi policemen after they delivered Tet presents to land petitioners that were gathered in front of a government building in Ha Dong.

A video clip posted on youtube by user ditimdongdoi showed the police force harassing a group of young humanitarian workers in Hanoi. The police force also blatantly robbed ramen noodles and other Tet gifts presented to the petitioners.

After all the gifts were handed out, at about 9:30 pm on February 5th, Trinh Anh Tuan (facebook Wind Lang Thang) and his girlfriend Dao Trang Loan (facebook nothingness) were arrested by five plainclothes policemen at the corner of Quang Trung, Ngo Thi Nham.

Throughout the ordeal, Tuan and Loan were violently assaulted, and then were driven away in a car to the police station in Quang Trung, Ha Dong district.

Prior to this illegal detention, Tuan and Loan were steadfast in their refusal to go to the police station headquarters. At the time of this article, information about the incident has already been spread widely on facebook and other social networks. Petitioners, friends and many other people in Ha Noi quickly gathered at the police headquarters to put pressure for their release.

At about 11:30 pm in the same night, the police reluctantly released Tuan and Loan after feeling strong pressure from all the protestors.

Due to the police brutality that she endured during the arrest, Loan developed a headache, felt nauseous, and was taken to a local hospital. Trinh Anh Tuan also had some bumps and bruises on his body.

This incident was recounted by Trinh Anh Tuan immediately after leaving the police headquarters and visiting his girlfriend at the hospital where she was being treated.


Human Rights Watch Assessment of Vietnam

According to the most recent annual report by the Human Rights Watch organization, the level of oppression in Vietnam has gotten worse in the last year, partly due to the rise in criticisms of the government.  It is estimated that “by the end of 2012, at least 40 activists were convicted and sentenced to many years in prison under articles 79 (subversion), 87 (undermining unity), 88 (propaganda against the state), 89 (disrupting security), and 258 (infringing state interests) of the penal code.”

The government also continued to clamp down on internet access to politically sensitive websites and online forums.  2012 saw a series of trials “that jailed people for exercise of their basic rights, as described in the Human Rights Watch World Report.”  Activists that were sent to prison include Catholic activists Vo Thi Thu Thuy, Nguyen Van Thanh, Dau Van Duong, Tran Huu Duc, and Chu Manh Son; dissident bloggers Nguyen Van Hai (known as Dieu Cay), Ta Phong Tan, and Phan Thanh Hai (known as Anhbasg); lawyer Le Quoc Quan; and even artists Tran Vu Anh Binh and Vo Minh Tri (known as Viet Khang).

It is noted that while neighboring country Myanmar is taking steps toward a more democratic society where basic rights are respected, Vietnam seems to be moving back with all its repressive actions.

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