Doan Van Vuon and relatives at the court (photo of TTXVN)
(Translated by Doan Trang)
Whereas, in the legal case of Doan Van Vuon (name in Vietnamese: Đoàn Văn Vươn), the local authority of Tien Lang (Tiên Lãng) district, Hai Phong (Hải Phòng) has committed a great many wrongdoings in performing “official duty”, violating the principle of rule of law, acting against the interests of the people;
Whereas, the charge against Doan Van Vuon and his relatives with “murder of persons being on public duties” as stipulated by Point D, Clause 1, Article 93, and “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” as stipulated by Point D, Clause 2, Article 257, the Penal Code of Vietnam, is wrongful, because this charge violates the requirements of the lawfulness of official duties;
Whereas, the resistance by Doan Van Vuon and his relatives, which is based on his right to self-defense and to protect his family’s long-acquired property, came as a result of the wrongful so-called “official duty”;
Whereas, the magistrate’s court in the coming April may not ensure objectivity, because the indictment has already failed to fully describe the case or to clarify evidence and principles as to verify truth regarding the case, and because of many other shortcomings;
We, those who are fully conscious of the above-mentioned issues, make this Declaration of Justice for Doan Van Vuon, with the purpose of warning the tribunal – the People’s Court of Hai Phong City – to judge rightly and to observe the principles of trial under national and international laws and other codes of conduct.
This goes particularly as follows:
Under Article 30 of the current Vietnamese Constitution, “During trials, judges and people’s assessors are independent and subject only to the law.”
Under Article 10, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”
Under Clause 1, Article 14, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Vietnam is a signatory and thus is obliged to implement, “All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. (…) Everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”
This Declaration of us, who are reason-loving, does not just warn but also encourage the tribunal to be courageous and to rightly implement its function of the judge, in the most possibly independent and objective way, to do justice.
And for these reasons, we sign on this Declaration.
We are aware that the support, even in the form of a signature only, can make substantial contribution to creating a list of thousands of signatures, thus uplifts Doan Van Vuon.
We are aware that the support, even in the form of a signature only, can help intimidate the dark into yielding to the light.
We are aware that each signature of us can help to stir the apathetic, and they will turn from apathy to sympathy to become our friends.
We are aware that each signature of us can contribute to the enormous power of the common sense, thus ignites the light of justice for Doan Van Vuon.
Doan Van Vuon, born in 1963, is a farmer in Tien Lang district, Hai Phong province. After serving in the army between 1981 and 1984, then learning at the Hanoi University of Agriculture, he started his own farming business in 1993 by leasing wetlands from the local authorities for fish and shrimp raising within a 14-year period. He also reclaimed land from the sea during his lease.
In 1997 he requested for more land lease, and the request was approved, giving him right to use land for 14 years as from October 4, 1993, while under the 1993 Land Law, tenants are granted “land use right” for a period of 20 years.
In 2007 and 2008, the local People’s Committee issued decisions to evict Vuon from his land. He certainly declined to vacate the fish farms, and this was the prologue for a tragedy. The Tien Lang shootout broke out when Doan Van Vuon’s brothers, using improvised mines and muskets, resisted an eviction by local policemen and soldiers. No one was hurt, but Vuon’s houses were destroyed and leveled to the ground. Vuon and his brother Quy were later detained and charged with “attempted murder”, a very serious crime under the Penal Code of Vietnam.
Local people said they are grateful to Vuon for his reclamation of land, which helped build their coastal community, while his 9-year-old daughter drowned in an accident in 2001. At the same time, Colonel Do Huu Ca, top leader of the local police force, said in an interview with the VnMedia news site that the eviction was “a fine fight” that is “worthy of being brought to book.”
“I told our comrades (…) that this was not a military exercise, but there were actually many things to learn. [The eviction] was very interesting with the spectacular combination between local authorities, the army, the border police, so there is nothing to complain.”
1. Nguyễn Trang Nhung, law student, academic year 2011-2014, Hochiminh city university of law.
2. Bùi Quang Viễn, law student, academic year 2010-2013, Hochiminh city university of law.
3. Phạm Lê Vương Các, law student, academic year 2010-2014, Hochiminh city university of law.
Sài Gòn, 31/3/2013
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