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VIETNAM: Internet writer sentenced

Monday 15 August 2011 - 1:00am

RAN 45/11 15 August 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International protests the three-year sentence handed down to French-Vietnamese university teacher and Internet writer Pham Minh Hoang on 10 August 2011 for his critical online writings. It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Pham Minh Hoang and all those currently detained in Vietnam in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a signatory.

The following information is taken from a 10 August 2011 alert by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF):

The verdict, passed today by a Hanoi court, was based on a charge of trying to overthrow the government. Hoang tried to "undermine national security," Judge Vu Phi Long said during today's trial. Hoang has decided to appeal and asks the French authorities to pressure the Vietnamese government to review his sentence, a friend said… 

A politically-committed blogger using the pen-name of Phan Kien Quoc, Hoang wrote articles that circulated widely online on education, the environment and the defence of Vietnam's sovereignty in its relations with China. He participated in a campaign against Chinese mining of bauxite in Vietnam's central highlands and gave extra-curricular training in leadership to his students. He is also a member of the banned pro-democracy party Viet Tan.

Armed security agents tried to intimidate journalists during today's trial and to dissuade them from covering the proceedings. The judge ruled that Hoang had "blackened the image of the country" and was guilty of "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's government." Arrested on 13 August 2010, Hoang spent almost a year in pre-trial detention. Under Vietnamese law, this will be discounted from the jail time he has to serve. 

Hoang's conviction comes just eight days after an appeal court upheld a seven-year jail sentence for another prominent blogger and dissident, Cu Huy Ha Vu. Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest and editor of the underground publication "Tu Do Ngon Luan", was returned to jail just two weeks ago after a year and a half on parole because of very poor health… 

The legality of the activities of Hoang and the other jailed netizens is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and articles 35, 50, 53 and 69 of Vietnam's own constitution. 

Please send appeals:

  • protesting the detention of university teacher and Internet writer Pham Minh Hoang, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory.

Appeals to be sent to:

His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt

President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Please note that there are no fax numbers available for the Vietnamese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for Vietnam in your country to forward your appeals. It would also be advantageous to ask your country’s diplomatic representatives in Vietnam to intervene in the case.

For some Vietnamese embassies in the world:

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 31 August  2011. ***

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: