Vietnam convicts pro-democracy novelist of assault (Roundup)

5 02 2010


February 5, 2010

Hanoi – A Hanoi court convicted a pro-democracy writer and her husband of assault Friday in a case that has drawn condemnation from foreign governments and human rights organizations.

Writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, 49, was sentenced to 42 months in prison after a one-day trial. Her husband Do Ba Tan, 50, received 24 months’ house arrest.

The court ruled Thuy and Tan had assaulted two men on October 8. The couple said the men attacked Tan after an argument about the parking of his motorbike and Thuy came to his defence.

Human rights organizations have alleged the charges were retaliation against Thuy, a novelist active for years in Vietnam’s tiny pro-democracy movement.

Earlier on October 8, Thuy had attempted to attend the trial of a fellow democracy activist in the city of Haiphong but was stopped on the highway by police and ordered to return to Hanoi.

At Friday’s trial, prosecutors charged that after Tan exchanged blows with Nguyen Manh Diep, 41, his wife hit Diep over the head with a stick and threw a small cinder block at him.

Thuy said Diep attacked her husband without provocation and she hit Diep’s companion Nguyen Van Thinh, 51, on the arm by accident. Thuy and Tan were questioned overnight by police after the altercation and arrested on October 9. Police released a datemarked digital photo they said showed a bloody Diep being treated at hospital.

Analysis of the digital photo showed the datemark had been inserted with image-editing software while file data suggested it had been edited before the altercation took place.

Thuy is a novelist and essayist who in 2006 helped found an association for people with land claims against Vietnam’s government. In 2007, she was imprisoned for nine months, and she has continued to complain of harassment.

Human rights groups have called for her release as have six members of the US Congress.

Vietnam has arrested scores of democracy activists, independent writers and bloggers in a recent crackdown on dissent. None of the more than a dozen trials over the past year have resulted in an acquittal.


Letter of a daughter to her parents

1 02 2010

Montpellier, France, February 1, 2010

My dearest parents,

Once again, I am writing to you to express all my love and most of all, to share my deepest concern on your upcoming court trial. The accusations are ridiculous and I am so afraid that the verdict has already been predetermined. Like many previous trials, it is often closed door and the accused would have no chance of defending themselves.

Mum and Dad, you are being charged of “assault and harming others” yet I have witnessed so many occasions where our family has been subjected to threats and abusive behavior by government hired thugs; and our house was constantly raided by police.

Neither of you were ever retaliated to these attacks.

You prefer to use your pen to tell the truth. You use your beautiful words to depict the injustice created by a society where it is poisoned by a corrupted system and a dictatorship regime. On that dreadful October 8th day, I already sensed that you will receive a harsh sentence, when they forced you to come to the police station even though you were bleeding and bruised from being assaulted.

I am quite anxious of your safety because of the recent escalation in crackdown conducted by the Vietnamese government. Unfair trials and imprisonment of peaceful activists become a norm in recent time.

Catholics protest because they can no longer bear the endless illegal confiscation of church property; and lawyers who often make a mockery of the legal system.

I am worried but be assured that I will not lose faith. I believe that persistent pressure and firm critics from the international community will contribute to exert change, especially if these gestures are amplified by international media outlets.

I promise you that I will do my best to appeal to the French government and to make it known to the international community of your trial because your trial represents every ordinary Vietnamese citizen who longs for true freedom and democracy.

Please be brave as you have always been and I shall to, because we believe in the truth and some day justice will prevail and democracy will succeed.

From your loving daughter that lives so far away and who deeply regrets for not being able to be at your side in such time of need.

Lots of kisses.

Do Thuy Tien

Trial documents against Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

30 01 2010

Novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was arrested on October 8, 2009 after attending the trials of fellow democracy activists. The Vietnamese government staged an attack against her and her husband and then charged the couple with assault.

Authorities tried to support the assault charges by publishing the picture of an alleged victim. This photo, published on government newspapers, was later proven to be a fake by Vietnamese bloggers.

Ms. Thuy has been detained since October while her husband, Do Ba Tan, has been under virtual house arrest.

Following are translations of 1/ the indictment against Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and Do Ba Tan and 2/ the decision to bring the case to trial. The court proceeding will take place in Hanoi on February 5, 2010 (the original trial date was postponed).

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy Court decision

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy Indictment

3 US Congressmen to Vietnamese PM: release Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

29 01 2010

January 29, 2010

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung
c/o Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street NW #400
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Prime Minister Dung:

We are writing to express our utmost concern for the wellbeing of writer and democracy activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, detained since 8 October 2009.

It has come to our attention that Ms. Thuy, suffering from tuberculosis and diabetes, was unfairly arrested for her peaceful expression and is currently without access to the urgent medical attention she desperately needs. The gravity of this situation brings our deepest worries for the safety and health of Ms. Thuy.

We urge the Government of Vietnam to allow Ms. Thuy familial visitation so that she can be provided with the necessary medication. We seek your urgent response in providing Ms. Thuy with full access to all proper and necessary care.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is an honorary member of English PEN, as well as recipient of the 2007 Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award and the 2009 Vietnamese Human Rights Award.

In the spirit of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which your country is a signatory, we urge the Government of Vietnam to act upon its international human rights commitments and release Ms. Thuy from prison.





Royce_Smith_Cao letter about Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

Members of Congress: Release Pham Thanh Nghien and Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

28 01 2010

January 28, 2010

His Excellency Nguyen Minh Triet
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
c/o Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20 Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036

Dear President Triet:

We are writing to convey our serious concern regarding the detention and upcoming trials of Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, two prominent human rights activists. We request that the Vietnamese government act in a manner consistent with its own legal obligations and international law, and release these individuals immediately and without prejudice.

Based on information from the U.S. Department of State and international human rights organizations, it appears that the charges against Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy are seriously flawed. Both women have consistently championed human rights in Vietnam, including freedom of expression and association. For those activities, they are now facing possible prison sentences.

Our understanding is that Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien is scheduled to go on trial this Friday, January 29, 2010 for “propagandizing against the state.” She was reportedly arrested by Vietnamese security officials in September 2008 and we have been told that her family has not been allowed to visit her in prison since her arrest.

We understand that writer and activist Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, who attempted to attend the trials of other democracy activists, is facing trial on February 5, 2010. She has reportedly had no contact with her family since her detention in October 2009. In addition, there has been no confirmation that medications supplied to the police to treat her diabetes and tuberculosis have been delivered.

According to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a party, all citizens enjoy freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right of association. Both your Constitution and the ICCPR also guarantee criminal defendants the presumption of innocence, the right to present a defense and the right to counsel. The imminent trials of Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy appear to starkly contradict these principles.

We therefore respectfully request that the Vietnamese government immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien and Ms. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and that while in detention, authorities take all measures to guarantee their physical and psychological security and well being, including access to medication and independent medical assistance and visits from family and friends.

Universal rights must be upheld for all people. It is time for Vietnam to allow its citizens to fully exercise the internationally recognized rights of freedom of assembly, expression, association and religion without fear of retribution from their government.

We thank you in advance for your assistance with this important and time sensitive matter.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Loretta Sanchez
Member of Congress

Zoe Lofgren
Member of Congress

Sanchez_Boxer_Lofgren letter about TKTT and PTN

Australian Senator Urges Vietnam to set example as chair of ASEAN in 2010 on human rights record

27 11 2009

President Nguyen Minh Triet
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Hoang Hoa Tham
Ha Noi

Ref: PJ – NGUY

Dear Mr President,

I am writing this letter to express my concern at the recent trials where nine democracy activists were sentenced to jail.

These include poet Tran Duc Thach, High school teacher Vu Hung, Engineer Pham Van Troi, Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, university student Ngo Quynh, former communist party member Nguyen Manh Son, essayist Nguyen Van Tinh, land rights activist Nguyen Van Tuc, and electrician Nguyen Kim Nhan. Their sentences range from two to six years of imprisonment.

These activists were criminalised for their exercise of the freedom of speech which is supposedly protected by the Vietnamese Constitution. This is a clear violation of the international covenants on human rights to which Vietnam is a signatory. Of a particular concern is the case of writer and human rights activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy. I was informed that Thuy and her husband were assaulted and arrested by plain clothes policemen while traveling to support the above activists on trial. I have learnt that since being detained, Ms Thuy’s health has deteriorated with worsening diabetes and heart conditions due to poor medical care whle in prison.

I am therefore quite concerned about her well-being and seeking your assistance to intervene by ensuring an impartial investigation into the maltreatment of Ms Thuy and her family. I also urge you to immediately release ali imprisoned human rights activists as Vietnam is about to chair ASEAN in 2010 and therefore must set a positive example in protecting human rights and promoting free speech.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Humphries
Senator for the ACT

25 November 2009


Letter to Secretary Clinton from relatives of Vietnamese prisoners

10 11 2009

Thu gui ClintonRe: Request for the U.S. State Department to intervene on behalf of prisoners of conscience during the Human Rights Dialogue with Vietnam

Vietnam – November 6, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
United States Secretary of State

Dear Madame Secretary:

We have been informed that the United States and Vietnam will hold a human rights dialogue in Washington D.C. on November 9, 2009.

At this meeting, we hope you will call on the Government of Vietnam to release all prisoners of conscience, including our relatives who have been arbitrarily arrested and unjustly convicted.

1/ The nine individuals who faced trials from October 6-9, 2009 include:

  • Poet Tran Duc Thach, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Teacher Vu Hung, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Engineer Pham Van Troi, sentenced to 4 years in prison and 4 years probation.
  • Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, sentenced to 6 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • University student Ngo Quynh, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Van Tinh, sentenced to 3 years 6 months in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Manh Son, sentenced to 3 years 6 months in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc, sentenced to 4 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Kim Nhan, sentenced to 2 years in prison and 2 years probation.

These are patriotic citizens who have campaigned peacefully for freedom, democracy and human rights for Vietnam—rights clearly spelled out in the Vietnamese constitution. Yet they were jailed, trialed, and treated in an inhumane manner.

Since their arrest and during the trials, they protested the baseless charges of the Vietnamese communist government and court. All have agreed to appeal the sentences and to condemn the unjust convictions.

As part of his protest, teacher Vu Hung, currently held at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, has waged a continuous hunger strike since he was brought to court on October 7th. On November 6th, his family was permitted to visit and was told that his weight had fallen to 30 kilograms. Although prison guards carry him and his health has been significantly weakened, he is determined to continue the hunger strike to protest the conviction and affirm his innocence. He intends on continuing the strike for 100 days. It is unclear how his health will hold out.

Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc, held at prison camp B14 in Hanoi, currently suffers from severe back-pain causing numbness to both arms. He has heart pains and hemorrhoids leading to loss of blood. His family is deeply concerned for his health but have not been allowed to visit him or receive any information on his condition since October 11, 2009.

2/ In addition to the nine individuals who were recently trialed, we raise the case of novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy. Because of her support for these democracy activists, security police stopped her from attending the trial in Hai Phong and later staged an assault in which she was arrested for assaulting another person. She was arrested on October 8 and is currently detained at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi. She suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure but prison authorities have denied repeated attempts by family to provide her with medication.

3/ Finally, we note the case of Pham Thanh Nghien, 32 years old. She was arrested in September 2008 and has been detained without trial at Tran Phu prison in Hai Phong. She has health problems and has not been allowed a single family visit.

Madame Secretary, we urgently call for your intervention, to request the Government of Vietnam to consider immediately releasing all the above individuals. That they were jailed solely for promoting human rights is outrageous. To let these citizens, who cherish freedom, justice and national independence, to die from a hunger strike or illness is inhumane.

Thank you for your attention.

Signed jointly,

  • Mr. Nguyen Van Duong, brother-in-law of poet Tran Duc Thach
  • Mrs. Ly Thi Tuyet Mai, wife of teacher Vu Hung
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang, wife of engineer Pham Van Troi
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nga, wife of writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia
  • Mr. Ngo Quyen, brother of university student Ngo Quynh
  • Mrs. Duong Thi Hai, wife of Mr. Nguyen Van Tinh
  • Mrs. Bui Thi Re, wife of Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc
  • Mrs. Ngo Thi Loc, wife of Mr. Nguyen Kim Nhan
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Loi, mother of Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien
  • Mrs. Le Thi Thanh Phong, mother of novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy