Annual Report 2013 By Amnesty International


Annual Report 2013 By Amnesty International

Viet Nam
Head of state:
Truong Tan Sang
Head of government:
Nguyen Tan Dung

Background

Freedom of expression

Prisoners of conscience

Death penalty
Repression of government critics and activ
ists worsened, with severe restrictions
on freedom of expression, association
and assembly. At least 25 peaceful
dissidents, including bloggers and songwr
iters, were sentenced to long prison
terms in 14 trials that failed to meet
international standards. Members of ethnic
and religious groups faced human rights
violations. At least
86 people were
sentenced to death, with more than 500 on death row.
Background
A political crisis arose over alleged mis
handling of the economy, with high inflation and
debt levels, and corruption scandals
linked to state businesses.
A secret “criticism” and
“self-criticism” programme in the ruling Comm
unist Party lasted for several months. The
Prime Minister publicly apologized for
economic mismanagement, but retained his
position. Public consultations were
announced on amending the 1992 Constitution, and
on gay marriage. An escalation of the territor
ial conflict with China in the East Sea (also
known as the South China Sea) resulted in
anti-China demonstrations in Viet Nam.
Reports of land disputes and violent forc
ed evictions increased. Viet Nam announced it
would run for a seat on the UN Human Right
s Council in 2014-2016. In November, Viet
Nam adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declarati
on, despite serious concerns that it
fell short of international standards.
Freedom of expression
Repression of dissent and attacks on the right
s to freedom of expression and assembly
continued. Short-term arrests
of people taking part in peacef
ul demonstrations occurred,
including in June, when 30 farmers were arre
sted after protesting for three days outside
government buildings in Ha Noi about bei
ng forcibly evicted three years earlier.

In September, the Prime Minister called fo
r greater controls on the internet and
ordered legal action to be taken against thr
ee named blogs after they reported on
the political crisis.
Vaguely worded provisions of the national secu
rity section of the 1999 Penal Code were
used to criminalize peaceful political and soci
al dissent. By the end of the year, dozens
of peaceful political, social and religious ac
tivists were in pre-trial detention or had been
imprisoned. They included Nguyen Phuong Uyen,
a 20-year-old student arrested in
October for distributing
anti-government leaflets.
Prisoners of conscience
At least 27 prisoners of conscience (det
ained before 2012) remained held. They
included Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic
priest serving an eight-year sentence for
advocating human rights, freedom
of speech and political change.
Bloggers
Long prison terms were handed down to bloggers in an apparent attempt to silence
others. They were charged with “conducting
propaganda” and aiming to “overthrow” the
government. Dissidents were held in lengthy
pre-trial detention, often incommunicado
and sometimes beyond the period allowed under
Vietnamese law. R
eports of beatings
during interrogation emerged. Trials failed to
meet international st
andards of fairness,
with no presumption of innocence, lack of
effective defence, and no opportunity to call
witnesses. Families of defendant
s were harassed by local security forces, prevented
from attending trials and sometimes lo
st their work and education opportunities.

Well-known popular bloggers Ng
uyen Van Hai, known as Dieu Cay, “Justice and
Truth” blogger Ta Phong Tan, and Phan
Thanh Hai, known as AnhBaSaiGon,
were tried in September for “conducti
ng propaganda” against the state. They
were sentenced to 12, 10 and four years’
imprisonment respectively, with three to
five years’ house arrest on release. The
trial lasted only a few hours, and their
families were harassed and detained to prev
ent them from attending. Their trial
was postponed three times, the last ti
me because the mother of Ta Phong Tan
died after setting herself on fire outside
government offices in protest at her
daughter’s treatment. Phan
Thanh Hai’s sentence was reduced by one year on
appeal in December.

Environmental activist and blogger Dinh
Dang Dinh, was sentenced to six years’
imprisonment in August af
ter a three-hour trial. He
was charged with “conducting
propaganda” against the state for initiating a
petition against bauxite mining in the
Central Highlands. His wife r
eported that he was in poor health and had been
beaten by prison officers.
Ethnic and religious minorities
Ethnic and religious minority groups perceived
to oppose the government remained at
risk of harassment, arrest and imprisonmen
t. Those targeted included ethnic groups
worshipping at unauthorized c
hurches and others involved in protests over land
confiscation by the authorit
ies. A group of 14 Catholic
bloggers and social activists
arrested between July and December 2011 in N
ghe An province remained in pre-trial
detention.

In March, Nguyen Cong Chinh, a Mennonite
pastor, was sentenced to 11 years’
imprisonment for “undermini
ng the national unity policy”. He was accused of
“inciting” ethnic minorities. He spoke
out about harassment by local authorities
and restrictions on religious freedom in
the Central Highlands. In October, his
wife claimed that she had not
been allowed to visit him si
nce his arrest in April
2011.

Twelve ethnic Hmong accused of involvemen
t in major unrest in north-west Viet
Nam in May 2011, were tried and sentenced to between two and seven years’
imprisonment in March and December fo
r “disrupting security” and aiming to
“overthrow the government”. No clear
account of events was given and the
authorities prevented access to
the alleged area of unrest.

The Supreme Patriarch of the banned Unif
ied Buddhist Church of Viet Nam,
Thich Quang Do, aged 85, remained under
house arrest. In July, he called for
peaceful demonstrations against China’
s actions in the East Sea. Police
surrounded the banned monasteries to prev
ent members from participating.

Three Catholic Youth members were
tried in September and sentenced to
between 30 and 42 months in prison for “conducting propaganda” against the
state. They had participated in anti-Chi
na protests, and signed petitions against
the trial of prominent di
ssident Cu Huy Ha Vu.
Death penalty
In November, an official stated that
508 prisoners were on death row, with around 100
ready to be executed. A delay in implementati
on of the use of lethal injection, due to an
EU ban on export of the required drugs, resu
lted in no executions being carried out
since July 2011. More than 86 people were
sentenced to death, including two men for
embezzlement.

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