VIETNAM: Two songwriters convicted for ‘anti-state propaganda’

RAN 70/12 – 31 October 2012 – The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is appalled by the sentences handed down to songwriters Vo Minh Tri and Tran Vu Anh Binh who were sentenced to four and six yeas in prison respectively, for conducting ‘anti-state propaganda’ via their critical songs posted on the internet. PEN International protests their imprisonment in the strongest possible terms, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory. 

Vo Minh Tri (pen name: Minh Tri and Viêt Khang) and Tran Vu Anh Binh (pen name: Hoang Nhat Thong) were convicted for ‘conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam’ under Article 88 of the Criminal Code, for posting the songs they authored on the internet. Both writers were sentenced after a five-hour trial at Ho Chi Minh People’s Court on 30 October 2012.

The court also accused the songwriters of having links with the organisation Tuoi Tre Yeu Nuoc (Young Patriots), a group that reportedly advocates respect for issues including human rights and democratic reforms. The court alleged that some of Vo and Tran Vu’s songs and blog posts had been published on the Young Patriots’s website.

Vo Minh Tri, aged 34, is a songwriter and performer. He was arrested in September 2011 and held for a week; rearrested three months later by public security who seized his computer and recording equipment. Some of Vo’s most popular songs Who are you?, Where is my Viet Nam?, and The Mother in the Mekong Delta, quickly spread on various internet sites. He writes about social and human rights issues, such as poverty, police violence, and the conflict with China’s territorial claim in the South China Sea. Vo is currently held at Trai tam giam Cong an, a Public security police temporary detention camp in Ho Chi Minh City, where he is held in solitary confinement. His four-year imprisonment sentence includes a two-year probationary period.

Tran Vu Anh Binh, aged 38, is a songwriter and blogger. He was arrested on 19 September 2011 by a group of about 10 plain-clothed police, who confiscated his computers and audiovisual equipment. He has written songs which deal with social matters, advocating the respect of human rights, denouncing social injustice and abuse of power. His most known songs include Father, You Gave Me (Your Child) the Future, and The Lullaby is Not Fully Sung Yet. He is also credited with writing the music for Courage in the Dark Prison, a song that reportedly expresses support for imprisoned blogger Nguyen Van Hai. Tran Vu is being held at the Public security temporary detention camp Trai tam giam Cong an in Ho Chi Minh City, where he was initially held in solitary confinement. He is said to be allowed one family visit per month. Following his six years in prison he will serve two years of probationary detention.

Further information:
PEN International’s latest action on imprisoned blogger Nguyen Van Hai
Amnesty International call for the release of both songwriters, and BBC and RFAreports on their convictions

Please send appeals:
Protesting the sentences handed down to songwriters Vo Minh Tri and Tran Vu Anh Binh, in the strongest possible terms;
Expressing alarm at the number of writers and journalists currently detained in Vietnam for the peaceful expression of their views;
Calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory.

Appeals to be sent to:
His Excellency Truong Tan Sang
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Please note that there are no fax numbers available for the Vietnamese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for Vietnam in your country to forward your appeals. It would also be advantageous to ask your country’s diplomatic representatives in Vietnam to intervene in the case.

For some Vietnamese embassies in the world:

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 14 December 2012. ***

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel. + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email:


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