January 11, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Appeal timed to coincide with party congress

Reporters without Borders calls on the Vietnamese authorities to exercise clemency and free journalists and bloggers who have been jailed for the free expression of their views. The organization’s appeal is timed to coincide with the meeting of the congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party which takes place every five years and will appoint the country’s main leaders for the coming five years. During that period Vietnam will have to embark on the changes needed to meet its international commitments and fulfill the promises made in the context of its membership of the World Trade Organization. By so doing it will acknowledge and accept the need for freedom of speech which exists on the Internet, the organization said today. “The organization is completely ready to accompany the government in Hanoi towards opening up freedom of expression,” Reporters without Borders said. “In any event we warn the Vietnamese leadership against censorship and repression which in addition to being unacceptable are a dangerous path which is doomed to fail.” Vietnam is today the world’s second biggest prison for netizens. At present 15 are being held: Nguyen Van Tinh, Nguyen Manh Son, Nguyen Van Tuc, Ngo Quynh, Nguyen Kim Nhan, Pham Van Troi, Vu Hung, Nguyen Van Dai, Tran Quoc Hien, Truong Quoc Huy, Dieu Cay, Nguyen Tien Trung, Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Le Cong Dinh and Pham Minh Hoang. In addition three journalists --Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, Truong Minh Duc and Nguyen Van Ly -- are still in jail in Vietnam. The Franco-Vietnamese blogger, Pham Minh Hoang, detained on 13 August last year, was officially charged with conducting activities with the aim of overthrowing the government on 20 September under article 79 of the penal code and with being a member of the Viet Tan opposition party. The authorities accused him of publishing on his blog ( 30 critical articles under the pseudonym of Phan Kien Quoc. He is further accused of organizing an extra-curricular meeting of about 40 students, with a view, according to the police, of recruiting future members of the Viet Tan. His wife Le Thi Kieu Oanh says he was arrested purely for his opposition to plans for bauxite mining in the High Plateaux region of central Vietnam. The netizen Nguyen Tien Trung, who is dedicated to democracy in the country, was detained at his parents’ home on 7 July 2009 accused of violating article 88 of the penal code. He was given a seven year jail term in January last year on charges of having tried to overthrow the government. Le Cong Dinh and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who were sentenced in January last year, together with Le Thang Long, saw their sentences of five and 16 years in prison confirmed on appeal on 11 May last year. Le Cong Dinh is the author of a number of publications on democracy, a known human rights activist and the defender of several bloggers and free speech militants. He was arrested on 13 June 2009 and was also placed under house arrest for three years. Both he and Tran Huynh Duy Thu were charged with attempting to overthrow the people’s government and with subversion under Article 79 of the country’s penal code. Thang Long, a human rights activist, was given a seven year sentence in January last year and put under house arrest for three years. The blogger Dieu Cay was given a two and a half year sentence on 10 September 2008 by a court in Ho Chi Minh City for tax fraud. Although he has completed his sentence he has still not been freed. On his blog he published articles dealing with the demonstrations organized around the world in opposition to the entry of the Olympic flame into various cities through which it passed, and in particular Ho Chi Minh City. He is also the founder of the Free Vietnamese Journalists Club, some of whose members are regularly threatened and arrested. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, writer and human rights activist, was sentenced on 5 February 2010, to three and half year on assault charges. Reports without Borders condemned what it called a “trumped-up” case. (read the article) The journalist Truong Minh Duc was sentenced on 18 July 2008 to five years in jail. He was found guilty of having “taken advantage of democratic freedom to damage the interests of the state and social and civic organizations” under article 258 of the penal code.