On May 23, 2020, the Security Investigation Agency of Ho Chi Minh City’s Police Department probed and arrested Mr. Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Vice President of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) with the allegation of “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code.
Earlier, on November 21, 2019, the agency also arrested IJAVN’s President Dr. Pham Chi Dung on the same charge.
The IJAVN is a professional civil organization established and operated under Article 25 of Vietnam’s Constitution which states “The citizen shall enjoy the right to freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, of access to information, to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations…”
The IJAVN’s activities since its establishment up to now have been completely based on the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, press and association which Vietnam has committed to the international community.
With the arrest of IJAVN’s President Dr. Pham Chi Dung and Vice President Nguyen Tuong Thuy as well as harassments against other members of the association, the Vietnamese authorities have implemented its policy which aims to completely eliminate peaceful criticism through the press type of the IJAVN, seriously violating the rights to freedom of speech, press, and association that the Vietnam has committed in the Law of International Treaties, which has been approved by the country’s highest legislative body National Assembly in the 11th tenure on April 9, 2016.
The detention and surveillance targeting IJAVN’s key members showed that the non-binding human rights dialogues between Vietnam and the EU and the US were completely unrealistic.
So we declare:
The arrests of Mr. Pham Chi Dung and Mr. Nguyen Tuong Thuy are unacceptable acts, completely contrary to the basic freedoms of citizens, as well as contrary to Vietnam’s commitments UN Convention to Civil and Political Rights and Vietnam’s human rights commitment when negotiating and signing the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).
We condemn the behavior of the Vietnamese Government in the reverse implementation of Article 25 of the 2013 Constitution. This behavior is contrary to the progressive and civilized trend of human society in the implementation of universal values which are basics for bringing the country to civilization, morality and prosperity.
Facing China’s threats while people’s lives are extremely difficult due to the social fluctuations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country needs a solidarity and consensus of all people, all organizations and social strata to overcome this period. The acts of Vietnam’s communist regime to arrest and suppress people with peaceful voices go against what needs to be done in order for the society to be stable and progressive for development.
In the context that the whole world is condemning the dictatorship that hinders the progress of the peoples, the Vietnamese government’s persecution against the IJAVN creates more and more alienation of the civilized world to Vietnam.
We declare: the IJAVN will continue to operate based on its principles and objectives, emphasizing peaceful dialogue and criticism.
We call on the international community, especially those countries signatories of the international conventions that Vietnam has signed, and the countries concerned, to take more practical actions towards the Vietnamese Government in requiring the Vietnamese authorities to respect the human rights as well as respect and fulfill the international commitments they have solemnly signed.
It is time to make it clear: Promises and commitments that are not fulfilled in reality, or even acted in reverse, are promises and commitments that have no value.
We call on all Vietnamese people to be fully aware of their civil rights, especially the basic rights such as freedom of thought, freedom of the press, assembly, and association, etc are now being seriously abused and need a lot of peaceful struggle to regain their own rights – the right to be human. Thereby, support the IJAVN’s development.
We call for the solidarity of the members of the association before this great challenge, and at the same time, call for individuals and organizations to practice human rights inside and outside Vietnam to accompany and support our voices in the future
May 24, 2020
Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam