11/08/2017, 09.38
VIETNAM

Ahead of APEC Summit, 17 NGOs appeal for activists held by Hanoi

They have called for their release. The letter names  Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Van Oai and Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh. Use of  “unsubstantiated national security concerns to justify, and illegitimate charges to carry out, the criminalization of free expression, dissemination of information, and peaceful advocacy." In Vietnam, at least 84 prisoners of conscience, the highest among all Southeast Asian nations.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews / RFA) - A group of 17 non-governmental organizations have written  a joint letter calling on leaders who are gathering this week to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to exert pressure on host nation Vietnam to release detained bloggers and human rights activists. The document is addressed to US President Donald Trump, Chinese Xi Jinping and Russian Vladimir Putin, among the leaders expected on November 10 and 11 in Da Nang for the leaders’ summit of the 21 APEC members.

The letter mentioned Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Van Oai, and Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh. Quynh, arrested in October 2016 and Nga, arrested in January of this year were sentenced to 10 and nine years’ imprisonment respectively. Oai was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of house arrest for resisting police officers and leaving his home while on probation.

"The Vietnamese government - the NGOs continue - has used unsubstantiated national security concerns to justify, and illegitimate charges to carry out, the criminalization of free expression, dissemination of information, and peaceful advocacy. Arbitrary detention, censorship, and state-sponsored violence against activists and human rights defenders are not only an affront to our common humanity but a grave violation of international human rights laws and standards."

Among the 17 signatory organizations are Access Now,  Brotherhood for Democracy, English PEN, Frontline Defenders, the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, Reporters Without Borders, the Viet Labor Movement and Viet Tan. According to Amnesty International, there are at least 84 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, the highest among all Southeast Asian nations.

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