Friday, January 22, 2010

European Union expresses its deep concern about the outcome of Trung's trial

Statement by the EU Heads of Mission on the trial of Mr Le Cong Dinh, Mr Nguyen Tien Trung, Mr Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Mr Le Thang Long on 20 January 2010.

The EU Heads of Mission in Hanoi express their deep concern about the proceedings and the outcome of the trial in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday 20 January.

The convictions are not consistent with the fundamental right of all persons to hold opinions and freely and peacefully express them, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a party.

Moreover, the severity of the sentences, notably including 16 years imprisonment followed by 5 years of surveillance for Mr Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, is unprecedented in recent years. The trial and verdicts are a major and regrettable step backwards for Vietnam. The esteem of the international community and longterm economic progress are not sustainable if peaceful expression, particularly the exchange and development of ideas about key issues for the people and the country, is suppressed.

The conduct of the trial is also a cause for concern: the families of the accused were not allowed access to the courtroom itself; the sound system relaying the trial to the observers in a nearby room was deficient; and serious allegations by two of the four accused that they had been subjected to pressure or harassment during the investigation were not addressed by the Court.

The EU Heads of Mission reiterate their firm goodwill and support for Vietnam and their readiness to continue to work in partnership with Vietnam. However, the negative trend exemplified by these and other recent verdicts, should be reversed so that Vietnam’s full potential in all areas, both social and economic, can be realised.

EU Delegation in Hanoi, 21 January 2010.

Press review after the judgement

Vietnamese dissidents' trial a mockery of justice - Annesty International
The prosecution gave no evidence to support the indictment, and the judges deliberated for only 15 minutes before returning with the judgment, which took 45 minutes to read and clearly had been prepared in advance of the hearing.

Family members, diplomats and journalists observed the trial from an adjacent room through a video link. Many had been turned away, including several family members of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc.

The trial also shows the urgent need to reform the serious short-comings of the 1999 Penal Code, the vague provisions of which criminalize peaceful dissent, contrary to Viet Nam’s obligations under international law.

Court sentences four netizens and pro-democracy activists to a total of 33 years in jail - Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the long jail sentences imposed on a total of seven bloggers, cyber-dissidents and human rights activists in rushed sham trials in the past two days. Sentences totalling 33 years in prison were passed on four dissidents who were tried by a court in Ho Chi Minh City today.

Vietnam dissident trial criticised - Reuters
Trung, 26, who started a pro-democracy youth group and, like the others, was a member of the Democratic Party, admitted to breaking the law and expressed remorse, saying his family and friends had been affected.

Dissidents Get Stiff Sentences - RFA

Foreign diplomats attending the trial protested the verdicts, and human rights groups were quick to condemn the proceedings.

Danish Ambassador Peter Lysholt-Hansen, the sole European ambassador permitted to attend, said the defendants had been sentenced for actions “which in a democracy are not unlawful.”

The United States condemned the arrests and repeated its concern after the verdict.

“We would like to reiterate our deep concern over the arrest and conviction of persons for the peaceful expression of their beliefs, political or otherwise, by the government of Vietnam,” said Ken Fairfax, U.S. consul general in Ho Chi Minh City.

“There are serious concerns about the whole process,” Danish Ambassador Peter Lysholt Hansen told reporters.

Vietnam: Repression Intensifies Prior to Party Congress - HRW

"With its treatment of peaceful critics, the Vietnamese government seems determined to stand out as one of the most repressive countries in Asia," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "We'd be thrilled if the Vietnamese government proved us wrong, but there are no signs that it will reverse its increasingly harsh crackdown on dissent." In the lead-up to a key Vietnamese Communist Party congress in 2011, Human Rights Watch is concerned that the Vietnamese government will intensify its campaign to silence government critics and curb social unrest in an effort to quell any potential challenges to its one-party rule.

Vietnam’s democracy activists - The Economists

SPEAKING your mind can be costly in Vietnam. This week a court in Ho Chi Minh City, the main city in the south of the country, sentenced four democracy activists to jail terms ranging from five to 16 years. Two of the men, Le Cong Dinh and Nguyen Tien Trung, had previously studied and lived abroad and one, Mr Dinh, is among the country’s best-known criminal defence lawyers.

Dangerous convictions

On January 20th a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Le Cong Dinh, a 41-year-old lawyer, and Nguyen Tien Trung, 26, an activist, to prison terms of five and seven years for advocating multiparty democracy. For both, the road to prison began with Western scholarships. Mr Dinh has a law degree from America; Mr Trung took a masters in France.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nguyễn Tiến Trung sentenced to 7 years of jail after a sham trial (Press Release)

Nguyễn Tiến Trung has been sentenced to 7 years of jail, and 3 years of probation, this Thursday, January 20th 2010.

Trung is a pacifist, and he only expressed his wish for more freedom of speech in his country. He was accused of trying to overthrow the current regime. That is the reason why he has been in jail in Hô-Chi-Minh-City in Viêt Nam since the 7th of July 2009.

At the end of a one-day sham trial, he was sentenced to 7 years of jail.
Graduated from the INSA of Rennes after 5 years of study in France, Trung created the worldwide-known Young Vietnamese for democracy association.

We, the support committee, are shocked by this sentence and denounce this sham of trial in a country able to put a free man in jail only because he dared to make use of freedom of speech. We ask for the immediate release and for the quashing of all charges against Nguyễn Tiến Trung. Above all, we call the international organization to put pressure on the Vietnamese regime.

Press release by the support committee, Wednesday, the 20th of January
French version: Nguyễn Tiến Trung condamné à 7 ans de prison ferme à l'issue d'une parodie de procès (communiqué de presse)

News from first day of the trail

Vietnam dissidents put on trial for subversion

HO CHI MINH CITY — A group of democracy campaigners went on trial in Vietnam Wednesday, facing possible death sentences on charges of trying to overthrow the communist regime in a case which has sparked global concern.

Human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, 41, French-trained computer expert and blogger Nguyen Tien Trung, 26, and Internet entrepreneur Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 43, are charged with "activities aimed at subverting the people's administration," according to the indictment.

The charges against the three carry a minimum penalty of 12 years in prison and a maximum of death.

It is the most high-profile case in a series of arrests and convictions of dissidents and bloggers in the communist country over the past year.

A fourth man in the dock, Le Thang Long, 42, is accused of being an accomplice and faces five to 15 years in prison if convicted.

"This is an extremely serious case," said the indictment. "It is prejudicial to national security."

It accused the men of an organised non-violent campaign, in collusion with "reactionary Vietnamese in exile and hostile forces", to overturn the government with the help of the Internet.

"They broadly disseminated information to distort reality and make people disbelieve party and state leadership," the charge said.

Although the defendants did not enter formal pleas, Dinh and Trung told the court in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, that they had violated the law.

Thuc testified that he wanted to warn people about socio-economic problems, like corruption.

"My behaviour did not violate the law," he said, admitting that he signed a confession saying he had called for a multi-party system.

But he alleged he was "mistreated" during the investigation process which "was not conducted in accordance with the law."

All except Long were accused of having links to the banned Democratic Party of Vietnam (DPV), which Dinh testified wants to establish a multiparty system and calls for pluralism.

"What I did violated the law," Dinh said.

The DPV, which the indictment says seeks to overthrow the government, has its roots in the Communist Party. It was dissolved in the 1980s but revived in 2006 by Hoang Minh Chinh, a former communist official-turned-dissident who died in 2008.

Trung also testified that he violated the law and had been "immature".

He and the others are accused of preparing dozens of anti-state documents and blogs.

Thuc foresaw the elimination of the Communist Party by 2020, Dinh drafted a new constitution, while Trung, together with students in France, established a "democratic youth movement", the indictment said.

Long testified that he and Thuc were part of a group that discussed socio-economic issues and ways to "develop the country".

Long, who admitted writing articles and sending them to a foreign radio service, said: "I think my discussion is natural and it's within my citizen's rights."

Neither relatives of the accused nor foreign journalists and diplomats were allowed into the courtroom and watched the trial via closed-circuit television.

Dozens of police surrounded the People's Court complex in central Ho Chi Minh, where the defendants were arrested between May and July last year.

Dinh's arrest in particular sparked concern in Europe and the United States, and among a global association of lawyers, human rights watchdogs and press freedom groups.

"Their real crime, in the eyes of the authorities, was to have requested more freedoms," said press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

US consul general Kenneth Fairfax, who monitored the trial, said the case "related to exercise of free speech" and called for their release.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Demonstration in London in front of the Embassy of Vietnam in Great Britain

On 18.01.2010 evening, Marie-Jo PEDRON (in the right of the picutre), former director of the Computer Science department of INSA Rennes, the former teacher of Trung at Insa and member of the Support Committee of NGUYEN Tien Trung with Mr Quoc Nam, representative of The Alliance for Democracy, went to London to attend the manifestation outside the Embassy of Vietnam in England.

Due to time stress, some committee members could not leave.

The manifestation on 19/01/2010 was a success with the live interview with BBC London to Vietnam.

Mme PEDRONO wrote
I am a member of the Support Committee of Trung.
My name is Marie-Joe Pedrono. I was one’s of the teacher of Trung at the National Institute of Applied Science (INSA), an engineer school in Rennes (France). I was the director of the Computer Science Department where Trung was studying. So, I am deeply concerned about his detention.
Trung was a very clever student and has obtained outstanding results. At the end of his second year at INSA, he was the best among 200 students.
For many times, he told me that he wanted to come back to Vietnam to help his country at the end of his studies. Just before he left France, he has offered me a very beautiful picture brought by his mother. When he came back to Vietnam, he sent me a mail to say that he was very happy to have a job at IBM. A few months later, he told me that he was enroled by the army and he didn’t send any news during many months. I was worry when I knew that Trung was arrested in July 7th.
Trung has learnt the right of the freedom of speech and democracy in our school in France. So all the teachers and all the students of INSA support Trung and ask for his immediate release.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Vietnamese engineer graduated in France may risk death penalty (press release)

Because of his call for more freedom of speech and democracy in Vietnam, Nguyễn Tiến Trung has been imprisoned since the 7th of July 2009 and may be sentenced to death.

During his 5 years of study at the INSA of Rennes in France, he founded a worldwide-known association: the Young Vietnamese for Democracy Association.

Before the trial which will take place in Hô-Chi-Minh-City on January 20th, we, the support committee, ask for the immediate release and for the quashing of all charges against Nguyễn Tiến Trung.

Press release by the support committee, Monday, the 18th of January
French version: Risque de peine de mort pour un ingénieur vietnamien diplômé en France (communiqué de presse)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The process of Trung will take place on 20 January 2010

On January 8, 2009, parents of Trung have seen him for the third time in prison under the supervision of 3 guards. When Trung was not there, an official said Trungwould get 5 years in prison.

Trung looked in good shape (physical and moral). He said he was doing gymnastics every day, exercise breathing and meditation.

His parents have received official information, in addition Trung confirmed that the trial would take place on 20 and January 21, 2010. By cons, an officer said that the trial could be shifted down to 25 and January 26, 2010.

After listening to feedback from family and friends, Trung thanked his friends for their concern about him. He took the news of his family and his teachers at Insa. He told his parents to take a taxi to come to trial.

Trung knows already that Mr Tran Anh Kinh has sentenced a trial of 5 ½ years in prison.

Trung said that having confessed on television had its reasons. He stressed that what matters is the truth and not what has been said on television.

Trung expressed his confidence in his lawyer Doan Thai Duyen Hai. He also asked his parents to bring books whenever possible.