28 December 2012 – A high profile appeals hearing against Dieu Cay and two other bloggers, in Ho Chi Minh City on 28 December, show that heavy-handed muffling of dissenting opinions continues in Vietnam. Civil Rights Defenders call on the Vietnamese authorities to release all peaceful bloggers and to respect the right to freedom of expression.
The Supreme People’s Court upheld the long prison sentences of the lower court against bloggers Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, and Ta Phong Tan, 12 and 10 years respectively, for anti-state propaganda. A third blogger, Phan Thanh Hai, the only one who had confessed earlier, had his sentence reduced from four to three years.
Several people who had intended to observe the closed process from outside the courthouse were reportedly detained before the hearing. At least one of them was roughed up by police.
“It is not uncommon that the Vietnamese authorities step up crackdowns against activists and human rights defenders at the end of the year, presumably because the international pressure decreases during the holiday period” said Brittis Edman, Programme Director for Southeast Asia at Civil Rights Defenders.
A day earlier, well-known lawyer and blogger Le Quoc Quan was arrested in Hanoi, on suspicion of tax evasion. Several analysts deem the accusations politically motivated to silence his criticism of government policies.
For more information, read: Vietnamese Blogger Detained (Radio Free Asia, 2012.12.27)