Lam Dong Provincial Authorities Prohibit Religious Freedom Activist Hua Phi from Meeting U.S. Delegation

Lam Dong Provincial Authorities Prohibit Religious Freedom Activist Hua Phi from Meeting U.S. Delegation

Vietnamese Police Provide No Further Details On The Detention Of Dissident Blogger Duong Van Thai

Vietnam’s police have given no further information on the status of dissident blogger Duong Van Thai, allegedly kidnapped by Hanoi security agents and brought back to Vietnam. The police in Ha Tinh Province later declared that they found Thai “illegally crossing the border to enter Vietnam” on April 14 and detained him for further investigation. Although Thai's maximum nine-day detention period ended on April 23, the Vietnamese authorities have not yet said whether he will face trial or be released.

According to Vietnam’s criminal prosecution law, a criminal suspect is subject to a maximum detention period of up to three days following the arrest. The temporary custody can be extended up to two times, and each extension cannot exceed three days. Meanwhile, the police must publicly disclose the status of a detainee after the temporary custody period expires. Additionally, a procuracy office at the same level must approve the detention extension of a criminal suspect.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that Thai authorities had begun investigating the disappearance of Duong Van Thai following his reported abduction in Bangkok. The police reportedly contacted activists close to the Vietnamese blogger, including Vietnamese American human rights activist Grace Bui, to learn more about the circumstances of his disappearance. Vietnamese authorities and State-owned media called the allegations of Duong Van Thai’s abduction “false information promoted by defiant individuals and organizations to oppose the government.”

Former Political Prisoner Huynh Thi To Nga Reveals Dismal Conditions In Vietnamese Prison

Huynh Thi To Nga, a former Vietnamese prisoner of conscience released in March, told RFA Vietnamese in an interview that prisoners are often subjected to malnourished meals, hard labor, and poor medical care. Nga, 40, a former medical worker, was sentenced to five years in jail on a charge of “distributing anti-State propaganda” under Article 117 of the Penal Code.

The former medical worker was accused of “publishing and sharing anti-State content” and “calling on people to protest in demand of democracy.” She spent 13 months in Dong Nai provincial police detention and 37 months in An Phuoc Prison after being convicted.

Nga said that criminal prisoners at An Phuoc Prison work around eight to nine hours daily, while political prisoners only work six or seven hours daily. Usually, prisoners must make paper offerings from recycled waste for export to China and Taiwan. According to Nga, they are not provided with adequate labor protective equipment. The prisoners were not paid for their work but could be granted a sentence reduction; Nga told RFA that she was released 10 months early.

Nga added that the diet was poor and insufficient for working conditions. And when the prisoners got sick, no matter what the disease was, the prison clinic only provided a few medicines, such as pain relievers, sedatives, and antibiotics in cases of infection. Every month, female prisoners in the camp were provided with sanitary napkins, detergent, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. She said books and newspapers in the prison library were limited and old, with little reference value.

In the interview with RFA, Nga said that her social activities were not “anti-government,” and that she simply wanted to bring about good things for the nation. “I made it clear to the court that we are not guilty. The regime always deemed that every form of opposition would be a crime. If anyone thinks that people like me commit a crime, then we only offended the Vietnamese Communist Party,” Nga said in the interview.

Defense Lawyer of Dissident Bui Tuan Lam Denied Visit With His Client

RFA reported that Le Dinh Viet, the defense lawyer of dissident Bui Tuan Lam, has been denied permission to meet with his client. However, the investigation into Lam concluded earlier this month. Lam's family hired lawyer Le Dinh Viet to defend him in the first-instance trial. The Da Nang City Court granted him a defense certificate on April 24.

But when Viet, a member of the Hanoi Bar Association, went to the Da Nang Police detention center to meet his client, the personnel in charge did not allow him inside. “The People's Court of Da Nang City said that because the case had just been transferred to them by the Procuracy, the judge did not have enough time to study the case,” Viet told RFA. “The court said that if the lawyer wants to meet his client, he needed to notify the court of the meeting time in advance so that it could arrange for someone to supervise the meeting with the accused.”

The attorney added that according to the Criminal Procedure Code and the Law on Enforcement of Custody and Detention, no provision requires police supervision when defense lawyers meet their clients. Attorney Viet told RFA that he had never encountered any difficulty meeting his clients regarding national security cases, as in the case of Bui Tuan Lam.

According to the indictment issued by the People's Procuracy of Da Nang City, Bui Tuan Lam allegedly “posted 19 articles on the Facebook account "Peter Lam Bui" and 25 videos and articles on the YouTube channel during the period from April 17, 2020, to July 26, 2022” that contained content deemed to be “distorting and defaming the people's government” and “causing confusion among the people.”

Vietnam Orders State Media To Remove News Coverage About Literary Critic Dang Tien’s Death

RFA reported that Vietnam had ordered State-owned media outlets to remove news coverage about the death of Dang Tien, a literary critic and poet, and not to publish further reports about him since he was a member of a literature organization the government deems anti-communist, sources in the country told Radio Free Asia.

Dang Tien, best known for his books “Universe of Poetry” and “Poems, Poetics, Prosody, and Profiles,” died in France at age 83 on April 17. After starting his career as a book reviewer while still a college student in Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, in 1960, he left Vietnam for Paris in 1966. He taught Vietnamese literature at the University of Paris from 1969 to 2005.

News reports about Tien’s death are no longer accessible online in Ho Chi Minh City’s Youth Newspaper and the Women Newspaper. But the reports were still present on two other online State-owned outlets, VnExpress and Sports & Culture, as of April 21.

Vietnam stays silent on news that writer Duong Thu Huong received the Cino Del Duca Award

Vietnam’s State-owned media remained silent after the French-based Institut Francais (French Institute) jury awarded the prestigious literary award Cino Del Duca to the exiled Vietnamese writer Duong Thu Huong on April 21. The official announcement was made on April 23 on the website of the French Institute.

Duong Thu Huong, 76, is a dissident writer who has written over 10 fiction novels, most critical of the Vietnamese Communist Party and Marxism-Leninism. She left Vietnam for France in 2006 to escape the government’s persecution and to be able to continue writing. The books of Duong Thu Huong are banned from being published in Vietnam for political reasons. Her novels, written in Vietnamese, have been translated into English, French, and German.

Freedom of Religion in Vietnam: What happened last week?

Lam Dong Provincial authorities prohibit a religious freedom activist from meeting the American delegation

RFA reported that authorities in Lam Dong Province prevented Chief Administrative Officer Hua Phi of the Buddist sect Cao Dai Nhon Sanh from meeting the delegation from the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Hanoi last month.

According to the Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, a Buddhist monk and a religious freedom activist, the meeting of the Vietnam Interreligious Council with the U.S. delegation was scheduled at Giac Hoa Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City on April 24. But the police in Lam Dong prevented Hua Phi from going to the meeting. Hua Phi also drafted a report on Vietnam's religious freedom violations to present to the U.S. delegation, Thich Khong Tanh told RFA.

Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh was able to attend the meeting with the U.S. delegation in Ho Chi Minh City. Representatives from other Protestant and Hoa Hao Chan Truyen groups were religious organizations independent of the State.

After informing the U.S. delegates on the current situation of religious freedom and the persecution of independent religious groups in Vietnam, the cofounders of the Interfaith Council (Hoi Dong Lien Ton) presented them with a petition letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In the petition, the Vietnam Interfaith Council suggested the U.S. include Vietnam on the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list due to its systemic violation of religious freedom and the persecution of independent practitioners.

Baton-wielding Vietnamese police crush protest against drainage project


“Ea M’ta lake in the southern province of Dak Lak will be the endpoint of a rainwater drainage system project proposed by the province’s Cu Kuin District, the provincial and district governments said.

But residents living nearby fear that in addition to rainwater, the project could also divert wastewater into the lake, which could harm the environment and flood surrounding areas.

Though a local government task force reviewed the project and said that no major damage to the ecosystem or water resources would result from it, the protesters said that they did not trust the review.

The clash with the police, armed with batons and shields, occurred on Thursday and Friday.”

Vietnamese workers in Taiwan sacrifice happiness to give families a better life


“The fruits of their labor line the pockets of brokerage firms in Vietnam, but once the workers set foot on the airplane, the Vietnamese brokerage firms’ responsibility immediately ends.

Vietnamese workers in Taiwan told RFA in previous reports that when there was a dispute with their employer, they could not go to any brokerage company for help.

Additionally, Taiwan's law on protecting the rights of migrant workers is still considered incomplete.”

Exclusive: Czech Republic looks to supply Vietnam with more aircraft, radars


“The former Soviet satellite state is seen as being well positioned to meet some of Vietnam's growing security needs as its military firms excel in retrofitting Russian gear and often manufacture new equipment that is compatible with Soviet legacy arms - a skill that is particularly well regarded in Vietnam, where 80% of the local arsenal is estimated to come from Russia.

Over the last two decades, Prague has already positioned itself as the European Union's main supplier of weapons to Vietnam, according to data from the Stockholm think-tank SIPRI.”

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Forgiving Without Forgetting: Vietnam’s Peace Diplomacy over South Korean Atrocities in the Vietnam War

ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute/ Phan Xuan Dung/ April 25

“Vietnam has also occasionally rebuked Korean accounts of the war. For example, in 2017, Hanoi objected to South Korea’s then-President Moon Jae-in’s remarks honoring South Korean veterans who had fought in Vietnam. More recently, in October 2022, Vietnamese authorities demanded that Netflix Vietnam take down the Korean drama series “Little Women”, citing historical inaccuracies, which had been criticized by Vietnamese netizens as an offensive glorification of Korea’s role in the Vietnam War.[29] However, in both instances, the Vietnamese government did not explicitly mention Korean atrocities or their victims. Vietnam’s objection to South Korean narratives seemed to be driven more by the desire to avoid humiliation than by concerns for the victims whom South Korea had never acknowledged.

This is further evidenced by two other lesser-known incidents, in which Vietnam quietly compromised in the realm of commemoration, in order to avoid upsetting South Korea. In 2000, a monument funded by South Korean veterans was built in Ha My village to commemorate victims of a Korean massacre in 1968. The monument initially contained a statement that incriminated Park Chung-hee’s troops. However, the ROK embassy in Hanoi requested its removal, and Vietnamese authorities acquiesced. They invoked Vietnam’s official slogan of “shelving the past without forgetting it” in justifying the need to erase the statement to Ha My villagers.”

Savvy Vietnam in a New Cold War sweet spot

Asia Times/ Richard Javad Heydarian/ April 24

“For Vietnam, there is little incentive to fully align with the US. After all, the Southeast Asian nation has found itself in a strategic sweet spot by carefully balancing relations with multiple superpowers while steadily nurturing strategic ties with like-minded nations across the Indo-Pacific.

More than most, Vietnam has successfully pursued a strategy of “multi-alignment” while preserving its image as a non-aligned power in a strategically vital region.

Scarred by fatal reliance on Maoist China and later the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War period, Vietnam has embraced a distinct non-aligned foreign policy in the past decades.”

Is a US-Vietnam Strategic Partnership Likely to Happen Soon?

The Diplomat/ Huynh Tam Sang, Vo Thi Thuy An/ April 21

“Despite successes in the economic realm, Vietnam has so far been cautious about concluding a strategic partnership with the U.S. Many have attributed this reluctance to fear of a possible Chinese reprisal, but Hanoi’s considerations go beyond mere concerns about Beijing’s reactions. In fact, Vietnam now worries more about the internal interference by the U.S. should the two nations conclude a strategic partnership. Vietnam’s primary goals are strategic autonomy, economic growth, and the preservation of CPV rule. In safeguarding both its strategic autonomy and the security of the communist regime, Vietnam has been tenacious in fighting against perceived domestic meddling by outside forces, usually described as attempts to foment a “peaceful evolution” to subvert or threaten its authority.”

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