36 NGOs worldwide call for the release of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc

On the day that marks 6th year of imprisonment for Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 18 international NGOs and 18 Vietnamese organizations made a joint statement urging the Vietnamese government to “immediately release” Thuc. They did so in an unprecedented collective attempt to free one of the most famous prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.


On 24 May 2009, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Vietnamese ICT entrepreneur and blogger, was arrested under the initial charge of “promoting anti-government propaganda” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. On 20 January 2010, in a one-day trial, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc  and his three co-defendants –Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Thang Long – were prosecuted at the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City for “conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Penal Code.

Thuc was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment followed by 5 years of house arrest, while Dinh, Trung and Long, were sentenced to 5 years, 7 years and 5 years’ imprisonment followed by 3 years of house arrest, respectively.

Contrary to being found guilty of aiming to “overthrow” the state, the activities for which Thuc and his co-defendants were prosecuted comprised only blogging that called for political reform and respect for human rights (e.g. https://tranfami.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/hewing_quest_for_democracy_and_prosperity/)

They did not receive a fair trial and relatives of the defendants and foreign journalists were not allowed in the courtroom. The defendants’ microphones did not function when Thuc’s defense counsel tried to speak on his behalf or when Long attempted to inform the court that the defendants’ confessions were written under duress. According to eye witnesses, the judges deliberated for only 15 minutes before returning with the judgment, which took 45 minutes to read, suggesting it had been prepared in advance of the hearing.

On 29 August 2012, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted the opinion that Thuc and his three co-defendants’detention violated the right to freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as the right to liberty and security of person (Article 9)and the right to freedom of association (Article 21).

Vietnam is a party to the ICCPR. Consequently, the WGADrequested the Vietnamese government to release them and provide them with compensation, in accordance with its international obligations. Although Vietnam accepted 31 of the recommendations calling for the respect and protection of freedom of expression atthe Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, the Vietnamese government has still failed to resolve Thuc’s case.

Today, 24 May 2015, marks Thuc’s 6th year of imprisonment. Until now, Thuc remains in prison while his three co-defendants have been released early. As such, we would like to call on the Vietnamese government to abide by their international and domestic obligations by ensuring that Thuc is immediately released. Only when the relevant authorities have taken the necessary steps so that his conviction is overturned, will justice to Thuc be restored. The international community and human rights organizations will be watching.


1. Amnesty International –ENGLAND

2. Civil Rights Defenders –SWEDEN

3. Freedom House –USA

4. International Commission of Jurists –SWITZERLAND

5. California State Senator Janet Nguyen, Thirty-Fourth District -USA

6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) –THAILAND

7. Asian Human Rights Commission –HONG KONG

8. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners –BURMA

9. Burma Partnership –BURMA

10. Centre for Human Rights Education–PAKISTAN

11. Citizens for Justiceand Peace –INDIA

12. Imparsial –INDONESIA

13. Justice and Peace Netherlands, The Hague –NETHERLANDS

14. Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders –HONG KONG

15. OT Watch Mongolia –MONGOLIA

16. Taiwan Association for Human Rights –TAIWAN

17. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) –INDONESIA

18. Triangle Women’s Support Group –BURMA


20. Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment –PHILIPPINES

21. Association for the Protection of Religious Freedom –VIETNAM

22. Associationof Former Political and Religious Prisoners of Vietnam –VIETNAM

23. Bach Dang Giang Foundation –VIETNAM

24. Bau Bi Tuong Than Association –VIETNAM

25. Canadian Youth for Human Rights Vietnam –VIETNAM

26. Civil Society Forum –VIETNAM

27. Chuong Bo Evangelical ProtestantChurch –VIETNAM

28. Evangelical Lutheran Church American and Vietnam –VIETNAM

29. Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience -VIETNAM

30. Independent Journalist Association –VIETNAM

31. No –U Mien Trung -VIETNAM

32. REM Defenders –VIETNAM

33. Vietnam Path Movement –VIETNAM

34. Vietnamese Bloggers Network –VIETNAM

35. Vietnamese United Buddhist Sangha – VIETNAM

36. Group of Nguyen Kim Dien Priest –VIETNAM