Risk of death sentence in Vietnam : FIDH and VCHR demand the release of Nguyen Tien Trung, blogger.

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) express their deepest concern over the possible death sentence of Nguyen Tien Trung, and condemn his arrest and the charges brought against him.

A pro-democracy activist and well known blogger, Mr. Trung was arrested under the charge of ’’propaganda against the state.’’ However, some days before his trial scheduled for end of December, the authorities modified the charges against him.

Mr. Trung was arrested on July 7, 2009 at his parents’ home and charged under the Article 88 of the Criminal Code. Following his arrest, a government TV station broadcast a forced confession where Mr. Trung admitted to being the founder of Youth Gathering for Democracy, and a member of both the Vietnamese Democratic Party and the People’s Action Party of Vietnam. Following these confessions, authorities suddenly changed the original charges against him to ’’attempting to overthrow the government’’ under Article 79 of the Criminal Code, a much more serious charge which carries the possibility of a death sentence.

Mr. Trung first came into conflict with the authorities after writing a petition on democratic reforms to the Tenth Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party and a letter to the Vietnamese Minister of Education expressing his view that too much emphasis was given to political indoctrination in the country’s education system.
In May 2009, FIDH and VCHR submitted a report to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on the occasion of Vietnam’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In this report, FIDH and VCHR expressed numerous concerns about human rights violations in Vietnam, such as the lack of media freedom and restrictions on blogs for alleged violations of ’’spreading propaganda against the state.’’ In addition, concerns were raised over the frequent application of capital punishment and its use to sanction vaguely-defined crime of threatening ’’national security.’’ The recommendations stemming from the UPR process report were, however, disregarded by Vietnamese authorities.

FIDH and VCHR condemn in the strongest terms the arrest, forced confessions, and charges against Mr. Trung simply for exercising his fundamental right to freedom of expression. Moreover, the organizations are concerned of the possibility of capital punishment in this case as they have repeatedly called for worldwide abolition of the death penalty. FIDH and VCHR demand that the Vietnamese authorities release Mr. Trung, take measures to ensure freedom of expression, and cease the use of Articles 79 and 88 of the criminal code in order to silence political dissidents.

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