German MPs Not Allowed to Meet Jailed Blogger Anh Ba Sam during Vietnam Trip

by Defend the Defenders, June 22, 2017

Two German members of parliament (MPs), namely Martin Patzelt and Philipp Lengsfeld, were not permitted to visit prisoner of conscience Nguyen Huu Vinh, well known as blogger Anh Ba Sam.

Mr. Vinh who is serving a five-year sentence in prison, was sentenced in March 2016 on charge of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state” under Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code.

As part of their trip to Vietnam this June, the two parliamentarians, who are members of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of German parliament (Bundestag), visited the detention center where Mr. Vinh was held but was rejected a direct meeting with Mr. Vinh.

In conversation with the leadership of the prison, the MPs clearly emphasized the need for equal treatment of “regular” and political prisoners.

They noted that relatives of Vietnamese prisoners of conscience face severe pressure from the authority as well as ‘plainclothes police’.

As part of their visit, the two Germany MPs also met with representatives of some religious communities and independent civil society organizations in Vietnam, such as the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross in Thu Thiem in Ho Chi Minh City, which is facing threats of land grab.

In addition, they also visited provinces hurt by impacts of the environmental disaster caused by the illegal discharge of toxic industrial waste of the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant in the country’s central coast.