Severe Crackdown on Freedom of Expression Continues in Vietnam

Ottawa, April 12, 2015 

“I am extremely concerned about the series of harsh sentences imposed on democracy activists and online bloggers who have peacefully spoken out against the Vietnamese Communist regime.

“Vietnam continues to imprison anyone who challenges the authority of the single‑party regime, despite promises of reforms made during their National Congress and the short‑lived “human rights honeymoon” observed during the TPP negotiations. These reports of Vietnamese dissidents sentenced to prison in a renewed crackdown on free expression are a sign that Vietnam has no intention of fulfilling its international human rights commitment.

“During the past few weeks, Vietnam has convicted several bloggers and rights activists on anti-state charges.

Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy

On March 23, 2016, the People’s Court of Hanoi sentenced Nguyen Huu Vinh (better known as Anh Ba Sam) and his colleague Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy to five years in prison. The two bloggers were charged with “abusing rights to democracy and freedom to infringe upon the interests of the State” under article 258 of the penal code for posting anti-state comments criticizing the Communist country’s repressive approach to dissent.

Dinh Tat Thang

On March 24, the People’s Court of Thanh Hoa convicted the 73-year-old activist Dinh Tat Thang and sentenced him to seven months and 11 days in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms” under article 258 of the penal code for denouncing human right abuses and exposing government corruption at both the local and national levels.

Three women displaying flags of the former Republic of Vietnam

On March 30, 2016, three women were jailed for up to four years each for displaying flags of the former Republic of Vietnam in front of the U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City in July 2014, during protests against farm land seizures. Ngo Thi Minh Uoc received a four year term, while Nguyen Thi Tri and Nguyen Thi Be Hai received three year sentences for “conducting propaganda against the state” under article 88 of the penal code.

Nguyen Ngoc Gia

On March 30, 2016, the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City sentenced prominent blogger  Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, also known as Nguyen Ngoc Gia, to four years in prison, to be followed by three years of house arrest. In a two‑hour trial, the blogger was convicted and sentenced for conducting “propaganda against the state” and using the Internet to “disseminate articles that speak badly of the Party and the State of Vietnam”.

Nguyen Van Dai

Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai is still being kept in jail after being arrested on December 16, 2015 and charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code for “conducting propaganda against the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” These charges against this well-known journalist and founder of the Committee for Human Rights were laid soon after he and colleagues were brutally assaulted for delivering a small workshop on human rights.

“The Government of Canada must categorically condemn Vietnam’s systematic repression of these peaceful activists, independent bloggers and social commentators. The single‑party communist regime must cease prosecuting individuals for merely expressing an opinion, and must unconditionally release all of them.”