Father Nguyen Van Ly, the editor of the magazine Tu do Ngon luan, and four other dissidents received long jail terms on 30 March. One of the dissidents, Nguyen Phong, is the founder of the Vietnam Party for Progress. He wrote two letters, on 17 and 30 March, to the international community in which he calls for more freedom in Vietnam.
Hue, 17 March 2007
I, Nguyen Phong, declare to my all my compatriots in Vietnam and abroad, to all human rights organisations and to the international press that:
1) All my words and actions from 16 February until today, 17 March, have had no legal value, as I have been under duress and in a state of fear and exhaustion.
2) The Thang Tien Vietnam party and the Lac Hong federal party continue to work openly in Vietnam.
I energetically protest against the Communist Party’s claim that I violated article 88 of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s criminal code by creating the Thang Tien Vietnam party and the Lac Hong federal party. This allegation is unconstitutional.
I therefore call on my compatriots in Vietnam and abroad, all human rights organisations and the international press to support us - myself, the Thang Tien Vietnam party and the Lac Hong federal party - in our struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in Vietnam.
We will continue to denounce actions by the Communist Party of Vietnam that are unconstitutional and contrary to the spirt of the International Declaration of Human Rights, and we will continue to put pressure on the government to amend laws that are unjust.
The Vietnamese people would thereby be able to enjoy respect for human and civil rights like the peoples of progressive countries.
President of the Thang Tien Vietnam party
Hue, 30 March 2007
A parody of a trial has been staged by Vietnam’s communist government today, 30 March, in which Father Nguyen Van Ly, myself, Nguyen Binh Thanh, Hoang Thi Anh Dao and the teacher Le Thi Le Hang are charged with violating article 88 of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s criminal code.
We are citizens of Vietnam who are struggling for freedom, democracy and human rights in Vietnam. Is it right that our leaders should want to build our country as they alone desire, going in the opposite direction to progress and human civilisation?
Vietnam’s communist government accuses us of anti-government propaganda. We are citizens of Vietnam who should have the right to receive, store and disseminate all news and information in accordance with our own political feelings. This is entirely compatible with clauses 2 and 69 of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s constitution and entirely in the spirit of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I founded the Thang Tien Vietnam (Vietnam Party for Progress) with the aim of advancing Vietnam’s progress in all areas by means of an open but peaceful struggle against the Communist Party. This party “for progress” joined with the party “for the people” to former the Lac Hong federal party (“Lac Hong” being the Vietnamese people’s legendary name).
Nonetheless, Vietnam’s communist government accuses me of the crime of propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam despite the absence of a single paragraph in Vietnam’s laws establishing this as a crime.
This will help you understand the “special treatment” that this wonderful communist government reserves for its fellow citizens! I still fail to understand how Vietnam’s communist government thinks. It is busy going against human progress and restricting freedom, democracy and human rights - values that Vietnamese citizens dream of enjoying.
Anyone who reads or hears the lines cannot fail to suffer inside.
The government delights and takes pride in imprisoning and forcing democrats to confess, and in forcing them to give up their activities.
In the face of this utterly unscrupulous behaviour by Vietnam’s communist government, I am just an ordinary human being. But I am firmly resolved not retreat before this unjust court. I am firmly resolved to struggle even more for freedom, democracy and human rights.
I am ready to offer my own personal suffering in exchange for these values for Vietnam.
President of the Thang Tien Vietnam party
Video of Nguyen Van Ly’s trial :
Priest who edited dissident newspaper gets eight years
Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked by the prison sentences imposed today by a people’s court in the central city of Hue on Father Nguyen Van Ly and four other people who helped him produce a dissident publication called Tu do Ngôn luan. The court found them guilty of “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”
Accepting the recommendations of prosecutor Tran Ky Thao, who accused Father Ly of “extremely serious violations against national security,” judge Bui Quoc Hiep sentenced him to eight years in prison. The other four received jail terms ranging from 18 months to six years.
“The verdict and sentences handed down at the end of this summary trial are a slap in the face for the international community, which thought the Vietnamese regime was going to respect its international undertakings,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“We call on the European Union to suspend its cooperation programmes in judicial matters, and we will ask the US government to put Vietnam back on the list of countries that do not respect freedom of opinion and religious freedom,” the organisation added. “If the international community does not react, all of Vietnam’s dissidents will be in danger.”
Reporters Without Borders is posting the 24th issue of Tu do Ngôn luan on its website in homage to Father Ly.
Foreign journalists who managed to enter the courtroom said the trial lasted about three hours. Weakened by a hunger strike, Father Ly refused to stand to give his name to the judge. After hearing the verdict, he shouted: “Down with the Communist Party of Vietnam!”
The four other dissidents convicted with Ly acknowledged being members of the Progression Party of Vietnam, which was founded last year. Nguyen Phong, who received a six-year sentence, told the judge: “I will continue to fight for the values of freedom and democracy on behalf of the Vietnamese nation.” Nguyen Binh Thanh, who got five years, said everything he had done was in accordance with “international laws.” The other two defendants, Hoang Thi Anh Dao and Le Thi Le Hang, both women, received 18-month jail suspended terms.
Two other dissidents, lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, are expected to be tried soon for writing pro-democracy articles.
A member of the Bloc 8406 pro-democracy movement, Father Ly has spent 14 of the last 24 years in prison for defending freedom of expression and worship. Detained from 1977 to 1978 and from 1983 to 1992, he received yet another prison sentence - 15 years - in October 2001 for activities linked to the defence of free expression. It was reduced several times and he was released in February 2004.
Tu do Ngôn luan
N°24 of Tu do Ngôn luan