Senator Ngo Condemns Vietnam’s Harsh Sentencing of Peaceful Bloggers

July 6, 2017

Senator Thanh Hai Ngo today made the following statement on the rising trend in violent attacks against independent bloggers, and the Communist Party’s increased crackdown on human rights activists in Vietnam:

“I unequivocally condemn the arrest of the blogger and single mother of two, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known as Mother Mushroom, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday, June 29, 2017, after being found guilty of distorting government policies and defaming the Communist regime in Facebook posts and in interviews with foreign media.

“The Communist Party of Vietnam must also immediately release Nguyen Van Dai, who has been imprisoned since December 2015 following charges under Article 88 for ‘conducting propaganda against the state.’ After more than one year, he is still unfairly detained without a fair trial or access to legal counsel, and is in poor health without proper medical attention.

“I am deeply concerned about the increasing pattern of plainclothes police officers and ‘thugs’ violently assaulting targeted human right activists, bloggers and their families with the tacit approval of Vietnamese authorities. For the last two years, peaceful campaigners like Father Dang Huu Nam who are publically demanding justice for the victims of the Formosa ecological disaster, and many other prominent dissidents have been exposed targets to vicious threats and physical harm. This campaign to spread fear and uncertainty among activists and potential government critics is a reaction from the Vietnamese Communist Party against a growing pro-democracy and human rights movement.

“Unfortunately, the Government of Canada’s silence on this trend toward targeted physical violence, increased arrests and the conviction of peaceful protesters in Vietnam is inconsistent with Canada’s values and its foreign policy priorities. The Government of Canada should follow the example of its close allies like the United States, the European Union and Australia, and international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who condemn these human rights violations. Furthermore, Canada should urge Vietnam to immediately release all other prisoners of conscience and allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views freely and assemble peacefully without fear of retribution.”