Vietnam: Environmental lawyer Đặng Đình Bách must be released

Open Letter
Sam Williams via Unsplash

Together with more than 80 other human rights organisations, the Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders (FIDH-OMCT) calls for the release of environmental lawyer Đặng Đình Bách, who has been arbitrarily detained on trumped-up tax evasion charges in retaliation for his legitimate human rights activities since 24 June 2021.

May 24, 2023

Dear Supporters of a Just Energy Transition and Sustainable Development in Vietnam,

The undersigned climate justice and human rights advocates worldwide call for the immediate release of prominent environmental lawyer, Đặng Đình Bách, who is serving a five year prison sentence in Vietnam on trumped-up tax evasion charges after advocating for the country’s movement away from coal.

Bách has declared that on 24 June 2023 - the two-year anniversary of his arrest - he will go on a hunger strike to the death in defense of his innocence. In his own spirit of nonviolent and peaceful protest, we are launching in solidarity with him a relay hunger strike joining him in solidarity in a relay hunger strike from 24 May through 24 June, to raise awareness about this extreme injustice and call for his release.

We are running out of time to address the climate crisis. Action is urgent, and across the world, steps are being taken to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate the impacts of climate change for future generations. The Vietnamese government itself has committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and accepted a $15.5 billion deal to support a just transition to clean energy. But this cannot succeed with climate leaders like Bách in jail.

Bách is one of four members of the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance who were imprisoned in Vietnam, despite playing an instrumental role in the country’s ambitious climate commitments, indicating an ongoing and highly concerning trend.

Bách has dedicated his life to improving the health and well-being of marginalised communities throughout Vietnam and worked tirelessly to limit pollutants such as plastic, asbestos, and coal. “I have witnessed so many painful stories of poverty and terrible diseases that weigh on abused communities in Vietnam,” said Bách in a recent statement from prison. “They are deprived of their land and livelihoods and do not have opportunities to speak out for justice and the right to be human in the face of environmental pollution, especially in places with coal-fired power plants across the country. In order to conceal the truth and threaten the voices of people, the Vietnamese authorities have arrested, convicted and unjustly detained environmental and human rights activists in defiance of national and international law.

This is why we, the global community, stand in solidarity with Bách through peaceful protest and call for his release, as well as an end to retaliation against government and civil society actors in Vietnam and around the world pushing for human rights and environmental justice.

The signatories urge all governments, multilateral institutions and others invested in a just energy transition for Vietnam to:
 insist on Bách’s release;
 demand that civil society in Vietnam is welcome to participate meaningfully in this process that is so crucial for the future of the region and the planet.

Action must be taken now to safeguard Bách’s life, as well as Vietnam’s ability to successfully transition away from coal and mitigate the impacts of climate change.


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  • Co-signatories

    ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
    Accountability Counsel
    Abibinsroma Foundation
    Africa Coal Network
    Agency for Turkana Development Initiatives (ATUDIS)
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Alliance for Empowering Rural Communities
    ACAT Belgium (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
    Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development
    Both ENDS
    Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association
    The Bretton Woods Project
    Building and Wood Workers International (BWI)
    Community Resource Centre
    Center for Constitutional Rights
    Climate Action Network Australia
    Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (CEMSOJ)
    Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
    Clean Air Action Network of Glens Falls
    Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED)
    Climate Action Network Southeast Asia
    Environmental Defender Law Center
    EarthRights International
    Equitable Cambodia
    ENLAWTHAI Foundation (EnLAW)
    Earthlife Africa
    Friends Against Dictatorship (FAD)
    Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung
    FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
    Friends of the Earth Japan
    Friends of the Earth United States
    Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific
    Focus on the Global South
    GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation
    Grassroots Foundation (Germany)
    groundWork, Friends of the Earth, SA
    Global Witness
    Global Network of Movement Lawyers at Movement Law Lab
    Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
    International Rivers
    Inclusive Development International
    International Service for Human Rights
    Indigenous and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC)
    Indigenous Peoples Partnership
    International Accountability Project
    Indigenous Women Legal Awareness Group (INWOLAG)
    indus Consortium for Humanitrain Enviorment and Development Inittiatives
    Jamaa Resource Initiatives
    Just Ground
    Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES)
    Kiko Network
    Manushya Foundation
    Mekong Watch
    Market Forces
    Malaysian Youth Delegation
    NGO Forum on ADB
    Oil Change International
    Oyu Tolgoi Watch
    Observatori DESC
    PowerShift e.V.
    Protection International (PI)
    policy research institute for Equitable Development
    Programme Intégré pour le Développement du Peuple Pygmée au Kivu (PIPD)
    Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER)
    Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
    Pro Public
    Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network PENGON-Friends of the Earth Palestine
    Quê Me: Vietnam Commi9ttee for Human Rights (VCHR)
    Rivers without Boundaries Coalition
    Reality of Aid-Asia Pacific
    Rivers without Boudaries Mongolia
    RAPEN environtment protection associations and nature network
    Sierra Leone Land Alliance
    Sustainable Development Institute
    Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG)
    The Bretton Woods Project
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

  • Member organisations - Vietnam
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