Press Release — Vietnam: HRF Condemns Jailing of 22-Year-Old Blogger
NEW YORK (November 28, 2017) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) strongly condemns the conviction and sentencing of Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hoa on the charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” for his participation in environmental protests. Nguyen was sentenced to seven years in prison in a closed trial, during which he did not have legal representation. Nguyen was arrested after authorizing an internet posting about a 2016 chemical spill that greatly impacted the livelihood of fishermen along the coast of central Vietnam, causing an uproar in local communities. Though the Taiwanese company that caused the spill, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, was fined for the incident, it received prime coastal property from the Vietnamese government in return for the fine.
“Mr. Nguyen did nothing more than voice his opinion about an environmental catastrophe of historic proportions. In retribution, the Vietnamese state has staged a sham trial to silence him,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “Young activists such as Mr. Nguyen should not be punished for having the bravery to speak out. The Communist regime in Vietnam must vacate Mr. Nguyen’s wrongful conviction and release him immediately.”
Nguyen was convicted under Article 88 of the Vietnam Penal Code. The Vietnamese regime uses this article frequently to persecute dissidents. Earlier this year, prominent blogger Ngọc Như Quỳnh Nguyen, better known as “Mother Mushroom,” was similarly sentenced to 10 years under Article 88 for speaking out against government policies.
“Article 88 has long been the Vietnamese government’s favorite criminal charge to use against dissidents. Authoritarian regimes abuse overly broad and vague laws like this one — which criminalizes ‘conducting anti-state propaganda’ — to shut down public discourse and lock away their opponents,” said Joy Park, an international legal associate at HRF. “As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Vietnamese government must respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression, including opinions that are critical of the government.”
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
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Urge the Vietnamese government to vacate Nguyen Van Hoa’s wrongful conviction and release him from prison.
Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Tel: (080) 48139
Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the United Nations
Tel: (212) 644-0594