In a joint statement, Senator Janet Nguyen, Amnesty International, Freedom House, Civil Rights Defenders and 32 international human rights organizations and groups have come together to advocate on behalf of Vietnamese human rights activist, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc. Today, on the sixth anniversary of his detention, these organizations have united to call on the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to overturn Mr. Tran’s conviction and release him immediately.
In 2009, Mr. Tran, a human rights activist and entrepreneur along with three democracy activists (Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Thang Long) were arrested for writing blogs that called for political reform and improved human rights in Vietnam. As a result, they were successively charged under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code of promoting anti-government propaganda.
After a one-day trail on January 20, 2010, Mr. Tran was found guilty of attempting to overthrow the government and was sentenced to 16 years in prison and 5 years of house arrest, the longest sentence ever issued by a court for these alleged actions. According to reports, the trial of Mr. Tran and his co-defendants was full of irregularities that suggest that the trial process was unfair. Specifically, reports say that the judges in Mr. Tran’s case deliberated for only 15-minutes but read a 45-minute sentence, thereby signaling that their verdict was predetermined.
“The conviction of Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc is perhaps the most blatant example of how far the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is willing to go to oppress those who express opinions that contradict the government,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “Freedom of expression is vital to maintaining a good government and I condemn the government’s actions against human rights activists like Mr. Tran.”
Since his arrest, the story of Mr. Tran and his co-defendants has garnered much international attention. Many human rights organizations have adopted Mr. Tran as a Prisoner of Conscience. Additionally, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded that his rights to freedom of opinion and expression, liberty and security of person, and right to association were all violated by the Vietnamese government. Unfortunately, while the other three co-defendants in this case have been released, Mr. Tran remains in prison.
“Advocates from all corners of the world have come together to take a stand as an international community with the belief that all citizens are entitled to basic human rights regardless of what country they live in,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “Mr. Tran was unjustly convicted and deserves to be free.”
Joining Senator Nguyen in the joint statement are human rights organizations and groups from England, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Hong Kong, Burma, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, Mongolia, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Philippines, Vietnam and the United States.