President Obama Urged to Take Actions for Release of Vietnamese Land Right Activist


Mrs. Hang at an anti-China protest in Hanoi in 2011
Mrs. Hang at an anti-China protest in Hanoi in 2011

[themify_box style=”blue, announcement, rounded)” ]In her letter sent to President Obama dated May 5, Senator Nguyen respectfully requested his assistance in seeking the release of Ms. Hang.[/themify_box]

By Vu Quoc Ngu | May 7, 2015 (Defend the Defenders)

Vietnam-origin Senator Janet Nguyen from California has asked U.S. President Barack Obama to take actions to pressure on Vietnam, demanding the communist government to release land rights activist Bui Thi Minh Hang.

Ms. Hang, who actively participated in anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, was sentenced to three years in prison last year after being arrested for the fabricated allegation of conducting traffic violations.

She has been under ill-treatment by prison’s authorities which are striving to break her spirit, according to her family. She is currently being held in a solitary cell after refusing to wear the prison’s uniform which is printed “criminal” while she claims that she is a prisoner of conscience.

In her letter sent to President Obama dated May 5, Senator Nguyen respectfully requested his assistance in seeking the release of Ms. Hang.

Prior to her arrest in February 2014, Ms. Hang was repeatedly harassed by the Vietnamese government for advocating for religious freedom, the release of political prisoners and for supporting victims of land confiscation, the Vietnam-American senator said.

Hang’s arrest and unfair trial aim to silence her social activities, Senator Nguyen said, adding her release will be extreme urgency as her health is declining as a result of her hunger strike which began on April 2.

Many foreign governments and international human rights bodies have called on Hanoi to release Hang unconditionally.

President Obama is very concerned about Vietnam’s human rights violations. He has urged the communist government in Hanoi to release a number of prisoners of conscience.

He contributed much to the release of Vietnamese prominent blogger and political prisoner Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay), who was forced to travel from prison to the U.S. in October last year.

On April 30, the U.S. Department of State called on Vietnam’s communist government to unconditionally release blogger Ta Phong Tan, who is serving her 12-year imprisonment for posting online articles criticizing the government policies and denunciating state officials’ corruption.

Mr. Obama is going to host Vietnamese communist leader Nguyen Phu Trong in July and visit the one-party country in late 2015.

Currently, the U.S. and Vietnam are negotiating on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement which is expected to enhance the two countries’ bilateral cooperation in trade and investment.

The U.S. is considered the super power which can help Vietnam deal with China’s violations of the Vietnamese sovereignty in the East Sea.

Last year, Washington partially removed its lethal weapon embargo imposed on Hanoi due to Vietnam’s poor human rights record.

The U.S. pledged to provide $18 million assistance for Vietnam to modernize its naval forces to cope with the Chinese expansionism in the resource-rich East Sea, which is also very important for international navigation.

According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding around 200 prisoners of conscience, including Ms. Hang, human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, entrepreneur Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, and blogger Ta Phong Tan.

Vietnam’s communist government has denied of holding prisoners of conscience but only law violators.