Dissident Writers Sentenced
International PEN is outraged by the sentences handed down to six dissident writers in recent days for “spreading propaganda” against the government. The sentences range from two to six years. All were first detained in September 2008, and include the well known novelist and journalist Nguyen Xuan Nghia, leader of the banned pro-democracy group Bloc 8406, and editor of the underground democracy journal To Quoc (Fatherland). PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained in Vietnam for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory.
Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, poet Nguyen Van Tinh, human rights defender Nguyen Kim Nhan, poet Nguyen Van Tuc, student and Internet writer Ngo Quynh, and writer Nguyen Manh Son were charged with conducting anti-government propaganda under Article 88 of Vietnam's penal code for their pro-democracy writings and activities, in particular their membership of the banned pro-democracy group Bloc 8406. They were convicted to sentences ranging from two to six years following a two-day trial in Hanoi that concluded on October 9.
In 2006, Bloc 8406, a coalition of political parties and organizations campaigning for political reform, created the Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy in Vietnam. The group’s name refers to the date that the manifesto was created. Originally signed by 118 dissidents, the number of signatories grew into the thousands. Most notable is Nguyen Van Ly, a priest and writer arrested in February 2007and who was sentenced to eight years for his involvement in Bloc 8406.
The six writers sentenced on October 9, 2009 are among dozens of activists to have been arrested since September 2008 as part of an ongoing crackdown on peaceful dissent. The group’s leader, writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, received the heaviest sentence. The indictment dated July 3, 2009 cited 57 pieces written by Nguyen Xuan Nghia from 2007 until his arrest in 2008, including poetry, literature, short stories and articles, which allegedly sought to "insult the Communist Party of Vietnam, distort the situation of the country, slander and disgrace the country's leaders, demand a pluralistic and multiparty system ... and incite and attract other people into the opposition movement."
Write A Letter
- Expressing alarm at the ongoing crackdown on dissident in Vietnam, in which at least six writers have been handed down lengthy prison sentences for their peaceful dissident writings and activities;
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/O Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Please note that there are no fax numbers available for the Vietnamese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for Vietnam in your country to forward your appeals. It would also be advantageous to ask your country’s diplomatic representatives in Vietnam to intervene in the case.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after October 31, 2009: ftw [at] pen.org