Four Việt Nam News Stories to Know in June

Published June 22, 2015 in Episode 9

In the age of 24 hours news, a lot can happen in a week. Loa’s Lương Văn Thiền has compiled a quick recap of four noteworthy news stories that happened this June.

1. Pro-democracy activists testify in Canadian Parliament

 Việt Tân’s Digital Advocacy Director and Loa editor Trinh Nguyễn, along with human rights activist Trương Minh Tam and Reverend Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng of the Interfaith Council of Việt Nam, testified before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights in the Canadian House of Commons. They raised the cases of human rights defenders Đặng Xuân Diệu, Hồ Đức Hòa, and Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn who have been held in custody by the Vietnamese government since 2011 for charges of subversion against the state.  

Trinh Nguyễn urged the Canadian government to play a larger role in supporting these prisoners of conscience.

I urge you, Mr. Chairman to consider a mechanism to adopt these individuals as prisoners of conscience so that the public knows their stories. When you stand in solidarity with these individuals, their cause becomes your cause. International support is not only desirable, but also the best guarantor for the safety of these brave individuals.
— Trinh Nguyễn

2. Activists pledge to protect each other against repression

In Hà Nội, dozens of democracy and human rights activists went public with “Charter 2015,” a 500-word pact that pledged unity and support for each other against political repression from the state. Signatories of the document posted the charter on their Facebook profiles with pictures of them holding a copy of the charter and their motivations for signing it

We fulfill these obligations in the spirit of unity, mutual support, and non-violence. We take on these obligations only to those who sign the Charter and are suppressed because of their peaceful activities supporting democracy and human rights.
— Charter 2015 signatories

This is the first time in the country’s history that Vietnamese activists have openly declared their unity against the authoritarian police state.

3. Law Professor says the U.S. shouldn’t reward Việt Nam with TPP negotiations

In Washington, D.C., Allen S. Weiner, director of the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation, testified before the Congressional Caucus on Việt Nam in the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of seventeen Vietnamese activists illegally arrested and detained. These activists were arrested for peacefully advocating for government action on a broad range of human rights and social justice issues.  

And as Professor Weiner made clear, these are not obligations imposed on Việt Nam by the international community.

These are obligations that Việt Nam freely chose to undertake and is simply disregarding of its own citizens. Việt Nam is in breach of its obligations.
— Allen Weiner

"Secondly, leverage needs to be brought against Việt Nam in order for the country to comply too its human rights commitments," he added

Professor Weiner urged Congress to not allow Việt Nam in the Trans-Pacific Partnership while the state continues to stifle dissent and perpetrate human rights abuses.

4. Postcard campaign provides moral boost to political prisoners

Last but not least, we learned this week that baskets full of postcards addressed to prisoner of conscience Đặng Xuân Diệu boosted the spirit of not only Diệu but of thousands imprisoned at Prison Number 5 in Yên Định.

A former fellow inmate, Trương Minh Tam, told Radio New Horizon that jailers were “scared and worried what kind of emotional impact the hundreds of postcards to Đặng Xuân Diệu would have among the prison population.”

Diệu is currently serving a 13-year sentence  for subversion against the state due to writings that highlighted the government’s religious persecution and failures to help the poor.

Tam says that although Đặng Xuân Diệu did not personally receive the postcards, the news was passed among inmates and Diệu was encouraged with all the support he’s received.