International human rights organizations spoke out against the Vietnamese government’s trial and verdict against activists Mrs. Can Thi Theu and her son Trinh Ba Tu shortly after a court in Hoa Binh province convicted them and sentenced each of them to 8 years in prison and 3 years of probation.
On May 5, Ms. Emerlynne Gil, Regional Deputy Director of Amnesty International, said in a statement: “This conviction is a betrayal of justice. Can Thi Theu and her son, Trinh Ba Tu, are brave human rights defenders and should have been protected by the Vietnamese government from harassment or imprisonment.”
“Vietnam’s government should not have arrested Mrs. Can Thi Theu and Mr. Trinh Ba Tu in the first place, let alone accuse them of false accusations,” added Amnesty International’s representative.
It is clear that Mrs. Theu and her son were punished in retaliation for their peaceful actions to expose injustices and violations of human rights.
“Sadly, in Vietnam, human rights activities are moderate enough to face long-term prison sentences,” Ms. Gil said.
Similarly, the human rights organization Article 19 on May 5 released a statement saying that the conviction of a Vietnamese mother and son for their support of human rights clearly shows the ongoing repression against the independent civil society and online expression in Vietnam.
Mr. Matthew Bugher, Asia Program Manager of Article 19, said: “Today’s verdict is another strong blow to Internet freedom in Vietnam. With every conviction of a human rights defender, Vietnam asserts its position as one of the foremost enemies of freedom of expression in the world.”
The California-based group Vietnam Human Rights Network and the Hanoi-based organization Defend the Defenders released a joint statement on May 5, saying: “We realize that the arrests of Ms. Theu and her two sons are arbitrary just because of their peaceful human activities.”
“They were held in solitary confinement during the investigation phase, without the witness of lawyers in their interrogations, and treated inhumane and even threatened by procedural officials, as Tu asserted in court. In addition, we believe that Mrs. Theu family’s human rights activities do not violate Vietnamese law, and this trial was fair.”
Ms. Theu and Mr. Tu were arrested and charged in June 2020 on charges of “conducting propaganda against the State” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.
These two organizations urged the National Assembly of Vietnam to remove Article 117 and many other articles in the national security provisions of the Criminal Code, which are used to silence peaceful criticism and recommend that Vietnam needs to seriously implement international commitments on human rights, for sustainable development.
Democracy and land rights campaigner Can Thi Theu (right) and her son Trinh Ba Tu will be brought to trial on May 5 on charges of “conducting propaganda against the state” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.
Right before the trial, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a press release, urging the Vietnamese government to immediately release Ms. Theu and her two sons – Trinh Ba Phuong was also arrested and held incommunicado in pre-trial detention- and drop all charges against them.
“Mrs. Can Thi Theu and her family are human rights defenders who dare to speak up in Vietnam,” said John Sifton, HRW’s Asia Regional Advocacy Director. “The Vietnamese government should listen to people like these brave families, not throw them in jail.”
Human rights organizations called on the Vietnamese government to immediately cancel this “unjust sentence” and immediately and unconditionally release Can Thi Theu and Trinh Ba Tu who are jailed just because of their peaceful exercise of human rights.