Annual Report: Viet Nam 2013

May 30, 2013

Annual Report: Viet Nam 2013

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  • Well-known popular bloggers Nguyen 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 “conducting 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 prevent them from attending. Their trial was postponed three times, the last time 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 after 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 reported 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 imprisonment. Those targeted included ethnic groups worshipping at unauthorized churches and others involved in protests over land confiscation by the authorities. A group of 14 Catholic bloggers and social activists arrested between July and December 2011 in Nghe An province remained in pre-trial detention.

  • In March, Nguyen Cong Chinh, a Mennonite pastor, was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment for “undermining 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 since his arrest in April 2011.
  • Twelve ethnic Hmong accused of involvement 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 for “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 Unified 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 prevent 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-China protests, and signed petitions against the trial of prominent dissident 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 implementation of the use of lethal injection, due to an EU ban on export of the required drugs, resulted in no executions being carried out since July 2011. More than 86 people were sentenced to death, including two men for embezzlement.