Archive for the ‘Le thi Cong Nhan’ Category

Vietnam Imprisons Human Rights Activists

May 11, 2007

By Matt Steinglass
11 May 2007
Voice of America

Two lawyers who ran a center for human rights law and supported alternative political parties in Vietnam were sentenced to prison Friday in Hanoi. Their trial came a day after three other democracy activists were convicted of similar charges in Ho Chi Minh City. Matt Steinglass reports from Hanoi that the convictions are the latest in a crackdown on democracy activists.Lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan are members of the Vietnamese democracy and human rights group “Bloc 8406,” and had organized seminars for students on international human rights law.

On Friday, a court in Hanoi sentenced Dai to five years in prison and Nhan to four years. Head judge Nguyen Huu Chinh pronounced them guilty under Article 88 of Vietnam’s criminal code, for spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Chinh says that the seminars Dai opened in December 2006 spread propaganda against the state, and defamed former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh.

Dai and his lawyer denied the charges.

Dai says the seminars simply discussed the social and political situation of Vietnam.

Nhan complained that she was not allowed to defend herself properly.

Nhan says the court’s procedure violated Vietnamese regulations, and that she was not allowed to speak during the part of the trial where the accused and their lawyers mount their defense.

Nhan was convicted in part for being the spokeswoman of the Vietnam Progression Party, which was founded last year. Vietnam’s Communist Party is the only legal political party in the country.

The prosecution is part of a broad crackdown against Vietnam’s small democracy movement, which gained strength through 2006. Since the beginning of this year, the government has detained more than a dozen democracy activists.

On Thursday in Ho Chi Minh City, Le Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Bac Truyen and Huynh Nguyen Dao were sentenced to three to five years in prison. They were convicted of collaborating with Thanh Cong Do, a Vietnamese-American active in a US-based Vietnamese political party. Do was expelled from Vietnam last September.

A dissident Catholic priest, Ngyuen Van Ly, was sentenced last month to eight years in prison.

The arrests and trials in Vietnam have sparked condemnation from several Western countries and human rights organizations.

A European Union diplomat who attended Friday’s trial said while it was good that foreign journalists and diplomats were allowed to observe, Vietnam should not be condemning people for peacefully expressing their views.

Dai and Nhan will not be the last democracy activists in court. Lawyer and Internet dissident Tran Quoc Hien will go on trial in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday.


Vietnam dissident lawyers jailed

May 11, 2007


Two human rights lawyers have been jailed in Vietnam, in the latest court case against political activists. Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan were sentenced to five years and four years respectively by the Hanoi People’s Court.They were found guilty of spreading propaganda intended to undermine Vietnam’s Communist government.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City convicted three other activists on similar charges on Thursday.

Le Nguyen Sang was sentenced to five years in jail, Nguyen Bac Truyen to four years, and Huynh Nguyen Dao to three years.


Both Mr Dai and Ms Nhan were arrested on 6 March, accused of collaborating with overseas pro-democracy advocates and using the internet to spread their views.

As well as receiving jail terms by the Hanoi court, they were also ordered to serve several years’ house arrest after the completion of their sentences.

Their trial is the latest in a series of court cases against members of the underground Bloc 8406 pro-democracy movement, which is named after the date it was launched, on 8 April last year.

This crackdown on political dissidents has been criticised by Western diplomats and international human rights groups.

An ex-prime minister, with links to the current leadership, recently told the BBC that there should be a dialogue with dissidents.

In a rare interview, Vo Van Kiet – a reformist who was prime minister from 1991 to 1997 – said the government should not avoid “talking to those who have a different view”.

And he urged the authorities “not to execute administrative measures” in their dealings with dissidents.

In March, dissident Catholic priest Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly was jailed for eight years for working with overseas democracy activists.

Another dissident, Tran Quoc Hien, is scheduled to go on trial in Ho Chi Minh City next week.

Vietnam Says: We Respect Freedom of Religion

May 7, 2007

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam, which faces frequent criticism from abroad for violating religious freedoms, respects the religious beliefs of its citizens, President Nguyen Minh Triet was Monday quoted as saying.

“Religion and belief are spiritual needs and are part of our people. They will be with us for the entirety of our socialist construction process,” Triet said at the weekend, the state Vietnam News Agency reported.

Triet was speaking during a meeting Saturday with prominent Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, who lives in exile after being barred from Vietnam by the former southern regime and the post-1975 communist government.

The 81-year-old monk, who first returned to Vietnam two years ago, has built an international following from his monastery in France. Last month, he prayed for post-war reconciliation with thousands of Buddhists outside Hanoi.

Hanh’s visits have been criticised by the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, whose leaders are under house arrest and who charge that Hanoi is using Hanh’s visits for propaganda purposes.

Last week, a US commission called on Vietnam — which keeps a tight check on all religious activity — to be reinstated on Washington’s blacklist of countries violating religious freedoms.

In March, a dissident Roman Catholic priest, Nguyen Van Ly, was jailed for eight years after a court convicted him of spreading propaganda against the communist state.

In the coming week, three other trials of dissidents are expected to begin in the capital Hanoi and southern Ho Chi Minh City [on Friday Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan will go to trial, Vietnam says.]


International Community Called to Scrutinise Human Rights Trial in Vietnam

Vietnam: Montagnards Are No Threat

International Community Called to Scrutinise Human Rights Trial in Vietnam

May 6, 2007

By Jennifer Gold
Christian Today
May 5, 2007

The international community has been called to scrutinise the trial of arrested Vietnamese human rights defenders, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, which is due to take place Friday 11 May 2007.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has said that international observers of Vietnam are predicting that the trial will be a sham, and that the verdict may already have been decided upon.

Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai is reportedly facing several accusations relating to his defence of religious freedom, including disseminating “alleged infractions of religious liberty [to Vietnam’s enemies abroad]”.

He has become a prominent human rights advocate, since defending the so-called ‘Mennonite Six’ in 2004-05. His colleague Le Thi Cong Nhan faces similar charges.

In violation of Vietnam’s own legal process, the pair have been denied all access to a lawyer, and indictment documents have not been released to the next of kin.

Additionally, Dai’s wife has not been allowed to visit her husband.

On 2 May, Tran Lam, the lawyer attempting to defend the pair, was finally accredited for the case. He was permitted to see the case documents for the first time, but only within the court.

The trial follows the sentencing of 60-year-old Catholic priest, Father Nguyen Van Ly, to eight years in prison for distributing “material harmful to the state”, on 29 March 2007.

Father Van Ly was pictured being held down and gagged within the courtroom, CSW has reported.

These cases are the subject of House Resolution 243 in the United States Congress, which calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

CSW’s Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert, said, “The world must urgently raise its voice against these cases. They represent a significant relapse for the Vietnamese government into its most repressive mode, and the imminent trial provides an urgent imperative for clear international attention.

“We condemn the arrests of these two lawyers for their defence of human rights, and urge the Vietnamese government to release them immediately.”


April 24, 2007

HO CHI MINH CITY, April 23 (Compass Direct News) – Christian attorneys Nguyen Van Dai and Le thi Cong Nhan are scheduled to be tried on May 11 in a case that appears to have fallen short even of Vietnam’s limited requirements for due process.

As of Friday (April 20), a full six weeks after Dai’s arrest, authorities had not provided his wife, Khanh, with any legal papers. By law she should have received a copy of the arrest order at his March 6 arrest citing the reasons for his “temporary detention.”

Calling Khanh in to police quarters on Friday afternoon, authorities told her that the investigation was completed but refused to give her a copy of the investigation report. They again denied her access to her husband, though previously they had told her she could visit him after the investigation was completed. Khanh and Dai’s lawyer, 80-year-old Tran Lam, will try to get some information from the People’s Court of Investigation today.

Khanh has written several polite letters to Vietnam’s prime minister and other high officials asking permission to visit her husband and expressing concern that she was denied permission to take to him a Bible and his medication for a liver ailment. She has received no acknowledgements of her pleas.

Dai’s wife said that police officials told her that the “exceptional treatment” of her husband’s case was necessary because it involves “state secrets.” She replied that since the government media have published a number of newspaper articles defaming and slandering her husband, the matter can hardly be called a “state secret.”

Procedural Violations

The Vietnam legal system allows for an accused person to have contact with a lawyer during the investigation period. Dai has been denied any contact with his attorney.

The Vietnamese system requires that, following the investigation period, police must submit an “investigation summary report” to the People’s Court of Investigation. If that body finds reason to proceed, it must prepare an “indictment” and present it the People’s Court.

This court then sets a trial date if it deems the case appropriate to prosecute. In Dai’s case, the trial date was announced even before the investigation was complete, another violation of Vietnam’s own legal code.

Quoting a judicial source who referred to a senior Communist Party official, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday (April 19) that lawyers Dai and Nhan are scheduled to be tried on May 11 for defaming the communist state of Vietnam. (See Compass Direct News, “Christian Lawyers in Vietnam Could Get Harsh Sentences,” April 18).

Vietnam’s legal code says that at minimum a copy of the “indictment” must be provided to the accused’s next of kin and to a defense lawyer 10 working days before the court date. With only 12 working days until the announced trial date (April 30 and May 1 are national holidays), authorities will have to provide the indictment papers to Dai’s wife and lawyer by April 25.

Official press reports accuse Dai of stealing US$80,000 from the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North), or ECVN(N). Both the church’s president and the general secretary have affirmed that the church had no such money. Dai’s wife several times has asked clergy to state this fact in writing, but representatives of the church’s executive committee, which met last week, said it will not be able to issue a letter until later in May.

By that time the trial likely will be over, leading some observers to question whether authorities are putting pressure on the ECVN(N) church of which Lawyer Dai is a member.

U.S. House Reacts

The stakes in the trial have been raised as the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee is proposing House Resolution 243, calling on Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release Dai and his colleague Nhan, as well as Father Nguyen Van Ly, sentenced to eight years in prison on March 29 for similar charges.

The proposed resolution threatens consequences in US-Vietnam relations if Vietnam does not alter its behavior towards peaceful political expression by its citizens.

A Compass source said Vietnam feels little need to abide by its own rules when prosecuting those who challenge it on human rights grounds.

“But then the state hides behind its laws to deny medicine, Bible and a visit from his wife to a man who peacefully advocates for religious freedom while they investigate him,” he said. “This ought to give pause to those who prematurely concluded recently that Vietnam had made significant progress in extending freedom to its citizens.”