January 7, 2013
In August 2012, English PEN was one of a dozen international organisations to sign an open letter to the Vietnamese Prime Minister, calling for the release of 17 social activists and bloggers who had been in jail for up to a year. Tomorrow, 8 January, 14 of these activists, including bloggers Paulus Le Van Son, Ho Duc Hoa, Dang Xuan Dieu, will finally face trial.
We at English PEN are particularly concerned about the possible outcome of the trial following a number of troubling developments in other cases of concern to PEN. On 28 December, harsh sentences against two other bloggers of concern to PEN, Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) and Ta Phong Tan, were upheld on appeal. Their co-defendant Phan Thanh Hai (aka Anhbasaigon), the only one of the three to plead guilty, reportedly had his sentence reduced to three years in prison, followed by three years of house arrest. On 27 December, an appeal court also upheld the four-year jail sentence of Nguyen Van Khuong (pen-name Hoang Khuong), a journalist with the daily Tuoi Tre who is currently serving four years in prison for exposing alleged police corruption.
We also share the concerns of the international human rights community for prominent blogger and human rights activist Le Quoc Quan who was arrested on 27 December 2012. Reports suggest that Le Quoc Quan is on hunger strike in protest against his detention, and that he is being held incommunicado.
We believe that Paulus Le Van Son, Ho Duc Hoa, Dang Xuan Dieu and the other bloggers facing trial on 8 January have been detained in violation of their right to free expression. We are therefore calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory. We also strongly urge the Vietnamese authorities to ensure that tomorrow’s trial is free and fair, in accordance with international standards.
Source: English PEN