Immediately after freelance journalist, Pham Doan Trang was sentenced to nine years in prison by the Hanoi government on December 14, the US, the UK, Canada, and a number of Western countries voiced their protest to this sentence and called for Vietnam to release her immediately.
The United States condemns the conviction of Pham Doan Trang, State Department’s Spokesman Ned Price said on December 14.
A statement from the US State Department said that Ms. Trang did nothing but peacefully express her opinions and that the US called on the Vietnamese government to release Ms. Trang and allow people in Vietnam to freely express their views. without fear of retaliation.
The US Embassy in Vietnam cited the US State Department’s announcement calling on Hanoi to ensure its laws and actions are consistent with the human rights provisions of the Vietnamese Constitution and its international human rights commitments and obligations.
Amanda Milling, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Development in charge of Asia at the British Foreign Office, said in a statement on December 15: “The fact that Vietnamese journalist Pham Doan Trang received a 9-year prison sentence is extremely worrisome. Imprisoning journalists just because they peacefully express their views sends the wrong message to those who support the development of the country and the Vietnamese people.”
The UK, along with members of the international community, has expressed concern at the way Pham Doan Trang has been treated since her arrest in October 2020 and has raised its position to the Government of Vietnam. South, the statement said.
“This sentence sends a message against the right to free speech,” the statement said.
The Canadian Embassy in Vietnam on December 15 issued a statement expressing concern about the sentence against Ms. Trang.
“Canada is extremely concerned about the sentencing of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang. We are also concerned about the continued efforts of Vietnamese authorities to limit freedom of the media, an essential element of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The Government of Canada calls on Vietnamese authorities to allow journalists to practice without fear of arrest, harassment or retaliation, and to end widespread censorship and control over the media and freedom of speech.
“We encourage all countries to comply with their human rights obligations under international law, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression,” the statement said.
The first-instance trial of journalist Pham Doan Trang. Photo screenshot from ANTV via YouTube.
Ambassador Petra Sigmund, Director General of the Asia-Pacific Department of the German Foreign Ministry, wrote on Twitter on December 14, expressing shock at the 9-year sentence for the former scholar of the Villa Aurora Los Angeles program, journalist Pham Doan Trang.
“This sentence sends an alarming signal about freedom of speech. Vietnam needs to uphold basic human rights as guaranteed in its constitution and international commitments,” she wrote.
On December 15, the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on Twitter that the country’s diplomatic representative was not allowed to attend the trial of Pham Doan Trang.
“Many countries, including the Czech Republic, were not allowed to participate in Pham Doan Trang’s trial as an observer.”
“We demand that Vietnam do nothing but respect its Constitution and the international agreements to which Vietnam is a party, and the release of Ms. Pham Doan Trang.
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) concluded that the detention of Ms. Pham Doan Trang is classified as an act of arbitrary detention, which violates the international commitments and obligations of the United Nations. Vietnam on human rights.
As noted by Western diplomats, during more than a year of detention, Pham Doan Trang had only met her lawyer once and had not met her family.
Vietnamese people’s reaction
Human rights activist Hoa Nguyen in Sydney, Australia, and a friend of Trang’s, commented to VOA about Trang’s sentence: “I’m not surprised.”
Ms. Hoa, who has followed the trials of activists in Vietnam from 2018 until now, said: “I and those related to Pham Doan Trang are not sad, not expecting, not shocked at all. .”
Also from Australia, Professor Nguyen Van Tuan, wrote on Facebook: “The ‘crime’ of Doan Trang is ahead of her time, surpassing the thoughts of the rulers. It is also the price to be paid by the intellectual in an outdated and dogmatic environment.
Day in and day out, the majority of the public is sown in the belief that it is ‘reactionary’ to speak against the views of the party and the State, and that reactionary is synonymous with imprisonment, which over time will become a standard. The norm is not to say anything other than the State. The norm is to be silent. Accordingly, those who speak differently or speak out against social injustices are considered ‘reactionaries’ and criminals,” wrote Professor Nguyen Van Tuan.
Former journalist Truong Huy San, author of ‘Winners’, in Ho Chi Minh City, commented on Facebook: “If we are living in a society with freedom, dignity, justice, and democracy, then people like Doan Trang will have an admirable position in the community.”
As VOA reported, on December 14, Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Ms. Pham Doan Trang (full name is Pham Thi Doan Trang, 43 years old) to 9 years in prison for “propaganda against the State” Socialist Republic of Vietnam” according to Clause 1, Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code.
What do Vietnamese media say?
In addition to quoting the indictment of the Hanoi City Procuracy with charges such as “posting and sharing content that distorts the lines and policies of the State“, “defamation of the people’s administration,” Vietnamese media also condemned the previous activities of activist Pham Doan Trang.
“Going abroad and being seduced by reactionary forces, Pham Thi Doan Trang established and joined many groups to spread distorting and anti-state content,” Thanh Nien wrote.
The domestic media also said that “in order to commit crimes,” Ms. Trang “receives funding and support from forces” to establish and participate in operating many “illegal” associations and groups.”
“The defendant has a certain level of awareness, understands and knows the consequences of his behavior, but still actively committed it for a long time, committing the crime many times,” VNExpress quoted the judge as saying.