Viet Nam
04.04.18
Urgent Interventions

As trial begins, human rights groups call for the release of Nguyen Van Dai and other members of the Brotherhood for Democracy

JOINT PRESSRELEASE

VIETNAM: Astrial begins, human rights groups call for the release of Nguyen Van Dai andother members of the Brotherhood for Democracy

Paris-Geneva,April 3, 2018 - Vietnamese authorities must drop all charges against humanrights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, his assistant Le Thu Ha, and seven other membersof the Brotherhood for Democracy and immediately release them, the Observatoryfor the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) and theVietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) urged today.

Brotherhood for Democracy founder Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, and theorganisation’s members Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi,and Nguyen Bac Truyen will appear before the People’s Court in Hanoi onApril 5, 2018. If convicted, they could face from 12 years to life in prison orthe death penalty.

“The internationalcommunity must unequivocally condemn the Vietnamese Government’s relentlesscrackdown on civil society and demand the immediate and unconditional releaseof Nguyen Van Dai, his colleagues, and all other political prisoners inVietnam. The lengthy and arbitrary pre-trial detention of Nguyen Van Dai and LeThu Ha deserves a chorus of international outrage,said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

Nguyen VanDai and Le Thu Ha have been arbitrarily detained without trial since December16, 2015. TruongMinh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, and Nguyen Bac Truyen weresimultaneously arrestedat their homes in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Thanh Hoa on July 30, 2017,and have been arbitrarily detained since. Three other members of thegroup, Nguyen Trung Truc, Nguyen Van Tuc, and Tran Thi Xuan, arrested betweenJuly and October 2017, remain in custody. Nguyen Van Tuc is expected to standtrial on April 10, 2018 in Thai Binh Province.

OnDecember 31, 2017, the Supreme People’s Procuracy in Hanoi announced that NguyenVan Dai, Le Thu Ha, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, and and Nguyen BacTruyen were accused of “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’sgovernment” (formerly Article 79, now Article 109 in the amended Criminal Code).Charges against them include advocating for the establishment of a free marketeconomy and a democratic government, calling on international organisations tospeak out against human rights violations, and giving legal support to dispossessedfarmers and victims of the Formosa pollution disaster.

Since hisarrest over two years ago, Nguyen Van Dai has not been allowed to meet with hislawyer, and his wife has only been permitted to visit him three times. InJune 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Nguyen VanDai’s detention arbitrary and called for his release. Other members of the Brotherhoodfor Democracy have also been denied access to their families and lawyers, andhave had no opportunity to prepare their defence.

“This trialis a shocking display of Vietnam’s disregard of its binding obligations undercore international human rights treaties to which it is a state party. Dai andhis colleagues are facing execution for peaceful and legitimate human rights activities,without being able to prepare their defence. This is a new low even for Hanoi’srepressive regime,” said VCHR President Vo Van Ai.

Brotherhoodfor Democracy is an independent civil society organization that promotes humanrights through online actions and coordinates the efforts of variouspro-democracy actors in the country. Its members have a long record ofharassment by Government authorities. Prior to the current detention, NguyenVan Dai, Truong Minh Duc, Pham Van Troi, and Nguyen Bac Truyen had been arrested and servedlengthy prison terms for their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.

“We stronglycondemn theharassment, arbitrary arrest, and trial of Nguyen Van Dai and the Brotherhoodfor Democracy members, which illustrate the Vietnamese Government’s relentlessefforts to intimidate and silence human rights defenders for their legitimate human rights activities,” saidOMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

SinceDecember 2017, at least 24 activists and human rights defenders have beensentenced to prison terms in Vietnam. The country holds at least 130 politicalprisoners.

For moreinformation, please contact:

· VCHR: Penelope Faulkner(Vietnamese/English/French) - Tel: +33 1 45 98 30 85

· FIDH: Andrea Giorgetta (English) -Tel: +66 88 6117722 (Bangkok) / Audrey Couprie & Samuel Hanryon(French/English) - Tel: +33 6 48 05 91 57 (Paris)

· OMCT:Delphine Reculeau (French/English) - Tel: +41 22 809 49 39 (Geneva)

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 byFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of thisprogram is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the EuropeanUnion Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civilsociety.

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