Joint Statement by Vietnam Human Rights Network, Defend The Defenders, and Human Rights Relief Foundation on the sentencing of 3 members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN)
January 6, 2021
On January 5, 2021, the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City sentenced 3 members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) to a total of 37 years in prison and nine years of probation on charges of “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.
Pham Chi Dung, the IJAVN’s President, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and three years of probation; both Vice President Nguyen Tuong Thuy and another young member, Le Huu Minh Tuan, received 11 years in prison and three years of probation each.
This unjust trial does not comply with international standards for fair trials. The defendants were kept incommunicado for many months from their arrest until December 2020 when they were allowed to see their lawyers for the first time. During their less than 6 hours court trial, the judges did not listen to the lawyers’ arguments and the defendants’ testimonies.
The IJAVN is a civil society organization of independent journalists fighting for press freedom in Vietnam. Since its founding in 2014, its members and collaborators have published thousands of articles about the situation of Vietnam, frankly criticizing the communist regime and officials for their blatant violations of their citizens’ rights and serious socio-economic mismanagement.
This is exactly the reason that the Vietnamese communist authorities want to annihilate the IJAVN and suppress its members for many years, and the arrest and conviction of the three leaders reached the highest point.
Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Le Huu Minh Tuan were sentenced to extremely heavy sentences for exercising their right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. Those are the basic rights stated in the Vietnamese Constitution and international human rights conventions that the Vietnamese communist government has signed and committed to honor.
Vietnam Human Rights Network, Defend the Defenders, and Human Rights Relief Foundation believe that Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Le Huu Minh Tuan have not violated any Vietnamese law, and that their arrests, detentions and convictions are completely unjustified.
Therefore, we ask the communist government of Vietnam
We call on independent civil society organizations and individuals as well as the international community to speak up for the freedom of the three recently convicted independent journalists.
- On behalf of Vietnam Human Rights Network: Nguyen Ba Tung, DPA, President
- On behalf of Defend the Defenders: Vu Quoc Ngu, President
- On behalf of Human Rights Relief Foundation: Chinh Dang, Chairperson