On 10/30/2012, two songwriters, Vo Minh Tri (aka Viet Khang) and Tran Vu Anh Binh (aka Hoang Nhat Thong) were tried and sentenced to four and six years in prison respectively. Both were convicted under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code for “conducting propaganda against the state.” Their crimes, in the words of the government, were “writing anti-government music, and distributing flyers that are critical of the government.” The prosecutors themselves conceded that these two songwriters were not involved in any other activities except for writing music and handing out flyers that are seen as offensive by the authorities. For this, they were each given four and six years in prison, plus two more years under house arrest. This seems to be part of a disturbing trend. It is the third trial in little more than a month in which peaceful dissidents were sent to prison for expressing their political views.
The Vietnam Human Rights Network, together with other human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Pen International, strongly condemns this action by the government in Hanoi, which is yet another serious violation of human rights. We also want to remind the Vietnam government of their obligations under international treaties and covenants on human rights, which they voluntarily signed onto since the 1980s.
- We call on the government of Vietnam to overturn these convictions and release these two artists, as well as other dissidents who had been wrongly convicted and imprisoned.
- We also urge the international community to continue to speak out in defense of these prisoners of conscience, and to push for their release.