Vietnam: Release All Political Prisoners

(New York, November 3, 2017) – The Vietnamese government should immediately release everyone it has detained or imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch posted a new web page highlighting the cases of 15 of more than 100 people imprisoned for political or religious reasons.

International leaders and trade partners attending the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang on November 10, 2017, should call on Vietnamese authorities to end the government’s systematic persecution of peaceful critics and ensure the basic rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion for its citizens.

“While doing photo-ops and trade deals with the leaders of Vietnam’s one-party state, foreign officials in the country for APEC should not turn a blind eye to the over 100 political prisoners those very same leaders have put behind bars,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “At the same time that Vietnam is playing the role of a friendly host to welcome international delegations, the authorities are intensifying their crackdown on anyone with the courage to speak up for human rights and democracy.”

Since its formation in 1976, the modern, unified Vietnamese state has imprisoned people for the exercise of basic freedoms. At present, at least 105 peaceful critics (list below) are in prison for expressing critical views of the government, taking part in peaceful protests, participating in religious groups that don’t have the authorities’ approval, or joining civil or political organizations that the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam deem threats to its monopoly on power.

On October 25, in the most recent sentencing, the People’s Court of Thai Nguyen sentenced 24-year-old student blogger Phan Kim Khanh to six years in prison for “conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” Upon release, he will serve an additional four years of probation restricting his movement to his residential ward. The verdict should be quashed and Phan Kim Khanh should be immediately released, Human Rights Watch said.

Within the past 12 months, the police have arrested at least 28 people for sweeping “national security” offenses that are used to punish critical speech. The most recent arrest was on October 17, when the police detained an environmental activist, Tran Thi Xuan, in Ha Tinh province and charged her with activities aimed at overthrowing the government.

Vietnamese rights bloggers and activists face police harassment, intimidation, intrusive surveillance, detention, and interrogation on a daily basis. Many are denounced on state media and national television, and others are subjected to public criticism in their neighborhoods. Police frequently prohibit rights campaigners from leaving the country or place them under temporary house arrest to prevent them from joining a protest or meeting with foreign diplomats. Activists have faced increasing numbers of beatings and assaults by men in civilian clothes operating under the protection of the authorities. Vietnamese activists who are arrested are often placed in lengthy police detention before their trial, without access to legal assistance or family visits.

“Neither a glittering APEC summit nor new trade deals can cover up the ugly reality that Vietnam still runs a police state that brooks no dissent,” Adams said. “Any leader of a democracy who goes to APEC but doesn’t take up the cause of Vietnam’s political prisoners should be ashamed at missing the opportunity to do the right thing on a global stage. International donors and trade partners should press Vietnam for systemic change to a more democratic system that respects human rights and the rule of law.”

Human Rights Watch List of Political Prisoners
October 2017

The following is a list of people imprisoned in Vietnam for expressing critical views of the government, taking part in peaceful protests, participating in religious groups not approved by the authorities, or joining civil or political organizations that the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam deems threats to its monopoly on power. This list only includes people who have been convicted and remain in prison and does not include the significant number of detainees who have been arrested, are currently facing trial, and have not yet been convicted. It is also almost certainly incomplete, as it only includes convictions that Human Rights Watch has been able to document.

Due to difficulties in obtaining information about convictions and sentences in Vietnam, this list may differ from those compiled by other organizations, and such differences do not necessarily reflect inaccuracies. Vietnam should be urged to open its legal system – including case files and proceedings – to public scrutiny.

  1. Phan Kim Khánh, born 1993
  2. Nguyễn Văn Oai, born 1981
  3. Trần Thị Nga, born 1977
  4. Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh (also known as Mẹ Nấm), born 1979
  5. Rơ Ma Đaih (Ama Pôn) born 1989
  6. Puih Bop (Ama Phun), born 1959
  7. Ksor Kam (Ama H’Trưm), born 1965
  8. Rơ Lan Kly (Ama Blan), born 1962
  9. Đinh Nông (Bă Pol), born 1965
  10. Trần Anh Kim, born 1949
  11. Lê Thanh Tùng, born 1968
  12. Cấn Thị Thêu, born 1962
  13. Ksor Phit, born 1970
  14. Siu Đik, born 1970
  15. Nguyễn Hữu Quốc Duy, born 1985
  16. Ksor Púp (Ama Hyung)
  17. Siu Đoang, born 1983
  18. A Jen, born 1984
  19. A Tik, born 1952
  20. Đinh Kữ, born 1972
  21. Thin, born 1979
  22. Gyưnborn 1980
  23. Nguyễn Đình Ngọc (also known as Nguyễn Ngọc Già), born 1966
  24. Ngô Thị Minh Ước, born 1959
  25. Nguyễn Hữu Vinh (also known as Ba Sàm), born 1956
  26. Nguyễn Tiến Thịnh
  27. Hoàng Văn Thu
  28. Nguyễn Lê Châu Bình
  29. Nguyễn Văn Thông, born 1965
  30. Kpuih Khuông
  31. Rmah Khil
  32. Rmah Bloanh
  33. A Kuin (also known as Bă Chăn), born 1974
  34. Ngư (also known as Bă Săn), born 1972
  35. Điểu B’ré (also known as Bạp Bum), born 1969
  36. Điểu By Ơ, born 1967
  37. Đinh Yum, born 1963
  38. Rơ Mah Plă (also known as Rmah Blă; a.k.a Ama Em), born 1968
  39. Siu Tinh (also known as Ama Khâm), born 1978
  40. Rưn
  41. Chi
  42. Đinh Lý
  43. Đinh Ngo
  44. Thạch Thươl, born 1985
  45. Ngô Hào, born 1948
  46. A Tách (also known as Bă Hlôl), born 1959
  47. Rung, born 1979
  48. Jơnh (also known as Chình), born 1952
  49. A Hyum (also known as Bă Kôl), born 1940
  50. Byưk, born 1945
  51. Đinh Lứ, born 1976
  52. Đinh Hrôn, born 1981
  53. Đinh Nguyên Kha, born 1988
  54. Phan Văn Thu, born 1948
  55. Lê Duy Lộc, born 1956
  56. Vương Tấn Sơn, born 1953
  57. Đoàn Đình Nam, born 1951
  58. Nguyễn Kỳ Lạc, born 1951
  59. Tạ Khu, born 1947
  60. Từ Thiện Lương, born 1950
  61. Võ Ngọc Cư, born 1951
  62. Võ Thành Lê, born 1955
  63. Võ Tiết, born 1952
  64. Lê Phúc, born 1951
  65. Đoàn Văn Cư, born 1962
  66. Nguyễn Dinh, born 1968
  67. Phan Thanh Ý, born 1948
  68. Đỗ Thị Hồng, born 1957
  69. Trần Phi Dũng, born 1966
  70. Lê Đức Động, born 1983
  71. Lê Trọng Cư, born 1966
  72. Lương Nhật Quang, born 1987
  73. Nguyễn Thái Bình, born 1986
  74. Trần Quân, born 1984
  75. Phan Thanh Tường, born 1987
  76. Hồ Đức Hòa, born 1974
  77. Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn, born 1985
  78. Tráng A Chớ, born 1985
  79. Kpuil Mel
  80. Kpuil Lễ
  81. Siu Thái (also known as Ama Thương), born 1978
  82. Phạm Thị Phượng, born 1945
  83. Trần Thị Thúy, born 1971
  84. Siu Hlom, born 1967
  85. Siu Nheo, born 1955
  86. Siu Brơm, born 1967
  87. Rah Lan Mlih, born 1966
  88. Rơ Mah Pró, born 1964
  89. Rah Lan Blom, born 1976
  90. Kpă Sinh, born 1959
  91. Rơ Mah Klít, born 1946
  92. Nguyễn Hoàng Quốc Hùng, born 1981
  93. Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức, born 1966
  94. Rmah Hlach (also known as Ama Blut), born 1968
  95. Siu Kơch (also known as Ama Liên), born 1985
  96. Nhi (also known as Bă Tiêm), born 1958
  97. Siu Ben (also known as Ama Yôn)
  98. Rơ Lan Jú (also known as Ama Suit)
  99. Nơh, born 1959
  100. Rôh, born 1962
  101. Pinh, born 1967
  102. Siu Wiu
  103. Brong, born 1964
  104. Y Kur BĐáp
  105. Y Jim Êban