Senator Ngo Condemns the Sentences of 14 Peaceful Activists

OTTAWA, January 14, 2013 – Senator Thanh Hai Ngo today expressed his concern on the recent sentencing of 14 peaceful Vietnamese activists on January 9. They have been convicted by the People’s Court of Nghe An province for engaging in “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” of “undermining of national unity” and of participating in “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

These 14 writers, internet bloggers and political activists were convicted after being held in custody for more than one year before being put on trial. They were all found guilty under article 79 of the penal code and will serve long prison terms ranging individually from 3 to 13 years, followed by 5 years of controlled residence.

“I am deeply troubled by these terrible convictions of journalists seeking nothing more than the peaceful expression of their views,” said Senator Ngo. The Senator said he plans to start the year by raising this bad trend of abuse of freedom of expression with the Harper Government, in order to urge the Vietnamese government to release all prisoners of conscience and adhere to its international obligations.

Vietnam is one of the worst transgressors of press freedom and its media faces heavy state restraints, allowing its population very limited access to unbiased information. According to a Freedom House score report, the one-party state’s control and opposition to free media has ranked Vietnams as one of the top 12 “not free” countries when it comes to the respect of freedom of expression.

For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo