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VIETNAM: Vietnam Must Free Bloggers Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan
Letter by William Gomes Salem-News.com
Salem-News.com Eye on the World report.
Blogger Dieu Cay
(HONG KONG) - Journalist Dieu Cay has been detained incommunicado for the past 17 months in gross violation of domestic and international law, and he should never have been arrested in the first place.
Shortly after the Club for Free Journalists was founded in Vietnam, police began to harass, intimidate and detain its members, starting with the arrest of Nguyen Van Hai, the founding manager, in April 2008.
The club was established in September 2007 to promote freedom of expression and independent journalism. However during the first few months the club was operating, members covered sensitive news and events that were either suppressed or ignored by local authorities and the government-controlled media.
Some of their reports covered wild-cat strikes by industrial workers in Binh Duong province, the trial of prominent dissidents such as Le Thi Cong Nhan and Nguyen Van Dai, 2008 protests against the Beijing Olympics, land disputes between Catholic churches and local governments, and the 2007 protests by Buddhist monks in Burma.
Our goal with Eye on the World is to illustrate and highlight politically oriented problems and tragedies that traditional media channels don't have time or interest in covering.
The world has its own set of laws that were agreed upon by the ruling nations in 1948, and many people are not aware of this simple fact. At the root of the concept of world citizenry itself, is the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an overriding and supreme law that ensures many essential human rights that governments today fail to observe. Also central to any hope of human success, is the understanding of the human hierarchy of needs, as defined by Abraham Maslow- more information on this at the conclusion of this entry. We must use the Internet as a tool of justice at every junction, and we need to assist all human beings, everywhere, and not allow cultural, racial or religious preferences as determiners.
In his letter to His Excellency Trương Tấn Sang, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. William Gomes expresses concern for the founding members of the Club for Free Journalists, and asks Vietnamese authorities to immediately release the bloggers Nguyen Van Hai (a.k.a Dieu Cay), Phan Thanh Hai (a.k.a Anhbasg), and Ta Phong Tan and drop all charges against them.
Mr. Gomes says that as s a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Vietnam is committed to protect basic rights and freedoms. He trusts that the President will make every effort to uphold Vietnam’s important international obligations.
April 16, 2012
His Excellency Trương Tấn Sang
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
I am writing to express my concern about the founding members of the Club for Free Journalists Nguyen Van Hai (a.k.a Dieu Cay), Phan Thanh Hai (a.k.a Anhbasg), and Ta Phong Tan. The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City will reportedly convene a criminal trial against them on April 17, 2012, for conducting propaganda against the state under article 88 of the penal code. The three are charged under Article 88.2 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code on “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” which is punishable by ten to twenty years in prison.
The three bloggers are founding members of the Club for Free Journalists, which they established in September 2007 to promote freedom of expression and independent journalism. During the first few months the club was operating, members covered sensitive news and events that were either suppressed or ignored by local authorities and the government-controlled media. Some of their reports covered wild-cat strikes by industrial workers in Binh Duong province, the trial of prominent dissidents such as Le Thi Cong Nhan and Nguyen Van Dai, 2008 protests against the Beijing Olympics, land disputes between Catholic churches and local governments, and the 2007 protests by Buddhist monks in Burma.
However, shortly after the club was founded, police began to harass, intimidate and detain its members, starting with the arrest of Nguyen Van Hai, the founding manager, in April 2008.
I want quote what Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said “Economic development and social stability require freedom of expression, and an independent media to report on issues and abuses that government officials want to sweep under the rug. Locking up bloggers does nothing to suppress or solve the controversies they reported. The authorities have not just violated the rights of these authors, but of their readers as well.”
Vo Van Ai, President of the Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights said “Dieu Cay has been detained incommunicado for the past 17 months in gross violation of domestic and international law, and he should never have been arrested in the first place. A trial under these conditions would be nothing other than a parody of justice”.
Nguyen Van Hai: Nguyen Van Hai, a 60-year-old war veteran, received the prestigious Hellman Hammett award in 2009 for writers who have suffered persecution as a result of their writings. He has been arrested and interrogated repeatedly by Ho Chi Minh City police since he participated in multiple protests against China between December 9, 2007 and January 19, 2008. Police arrested him on April 20, 2008, nine days before the Beijing Olympic torch traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, and later prosecuted him on a trumped-up tax evasion charge. On September 10, 2008, the People’s Court of District Three sentenced him to two years and six months in prison.
On October 20, 2010, the day he finished his prison term, police officials refused to release him. Instead, the authorities came up with a new charge that he had violated article 88 of the Penal Code by carrying out “propaganda against the Socialist Republic.” His former wife, Duong Thi Tan, who was preparing to pick him up from the prison, was detained and interrogated by police in Ho Chi Minh City, and authorities searched her house. “Vietnam shamelessly constructs spurious legal charges and rationales to keep peaceful critics like Nguyen Van Hai behind bars,” Robertson said. “This latest charge reveals the reality that the authorities locked him up for nothing more than political reasons.”
Phan Thanh Hai: Phan Thanh Hai, 43, is a dissident writer who blogs under the pen name “Anhbasg” or “Anh Ba Sai Gon.” His writings aim to promote government transparency, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. After he participated in a protest in Ho Chi Minh City against the Beijing Olympics in December 2007, police put him under intrusive surveillance, detained, and interrogated him many times.
Although he finished his legal studies in 2008 and fulfilled all requirements to become a practicing lawyer, his application was turned down by the Justice Ministry because of his involvement in protests and his blogging activities. Regular police harassment has effectively prevented him from securing regular employment. On October 18, 2010, police arrested him in Ho Chi Minh City for allegedly conducting propaganda against the state under article 88 of the penal code. Phan Thanh Hai received the Hellman Hammett award in 2011.
Ta Phong Tan: Ta Phong Tan, 44, is a former police officer and a former communist party member. She began her writing career as a freelance journalist in 2004. Her articles appeared in many mainstream newspapers including Tuoi Tre (Youth), Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer), Vietnam Net, Phap Luat TP Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh City Law), Thanh Tra (Inspectorate), Can Tho, and Binh Duong. Since March 2006 dozens of her articles have been published on the website of BBC’s Vietnamese service. This eventually prompted the Communist Party of Vietnam to revoke her membership.
Since she began her blog, Justice & Truth (Cong ly & Su that) in November 2006, she has become one of the most prolific bloggers in Vietnam. She has written more than 700 articles about social issues, including the mistreatment of children, official corruption, unfair taxation of poor people, and grievances connected to illegal land confiscations by local officials. In addition, using her knowledge of police work, she provides insightful observations about widespread abuse of power by the police in Vietnam.
As a result of her writing, the police have repeatedly harassed her. Since 2008 she has been detained and interrogated on numerous occasions about her activities, her associates, and the contents of her blog. Ta Phong Tan was arrested on September 5, 2011. She also received the Hellman Hammett award in 2011.
“With more than seven hundred state-controlled media outlets and thousands of pro-government web portals, the Vietnam government has a giant propaganda machine working to beautify the face of the state,” Robertson said. “So what do the authorities have to fear from a handful of bloggers, equipped with only personal cameras and computers, and why are they so determined to persecute them?”
I want share some of the excerpts from the blogs of Nguyen Van Hai, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan:
Vietnam does not have the rule of law; it only has the rule of the Party. The law was compromised to protect police officers and Party members who abuse power.— Nguyen Van Hai (a.k.a Dieu Cay), “Hoang Hai to everyone!” June 28, 2007.
Blogging is an escape route for those whose ideas and actions are imprisoned. It allows one to express resistance against injustice and violence. Blogging is where an individual can express his/her desire for freedom.— Phan Thanh Hai (a.k.a. Anhbasg), “Blog is creating a ‘civil society’ of perfection and freedom,” October 3, 2007.
I am a free journalist. I write about what I see and hear. I comment on social issues as I understand them. I expose the victimization of people like myself and my friends by the State of Vietnam. I defend people without power who suffer injustice. But the Vietnamese state wants to silence me. Their cadres told me I was not allowed to write about anything that touches the state. The Vietnamese state is controlling every aspect of Vietnamese society. Anything I wrote can be interpreted as touching upon the state. An article I posted on my blog which retold a dream I had (‘Last night I dreamt of meeting the old Marx’) was accused of ‘distortion.’ This Vietnamese state even controls people’s dreams. The people only have the rights to dream as they are told.— Ta Phong Tan, “I am facing a plot [against me],” April 4, 2010.
As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Vietnam is committed to protect basic rights and freedoms. We trust you will make every effort to uphold Vietnam’s important international obligations.
Vietnamese authorities should immediately release the bloggers Nguyen Van Hai (a.k.a Dieu Cay), Phan Thanh Hai (a.k.a Anhbasg), and Ta Phong Tan and drop all charges against them.
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
William Nicholas Gomes
Maslow's hierarchy of needs
As children we are educated in right and wrong, we are told how to conduct ourselves; we learn both expectations and limitations, and from that point we go forth with these tools, and our individual personalities, and fail or succeed accordingly.
In school we quickly understand that without paper, there is no place to write. Once we have paper, a pen or pencil is required to move to the next point. There is a great analogy that exists between this simple concept of paper and pen, and what we know today as Maslow's hierarchy of needs- the theory in psychology proposed in Abraham Maslow's 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation.
He demonstrated how without the correct necessities, a person can do little good for themselves, and has none to offer for others. However when people are housed and have clothing, heat, food, health and security, anything is possible. However if just one of these dynamics is removed from the mix, the chance for success can be adversely affected.
Wikipedia describes Maslow's hierarchy of needs as a pyramid consisting of five levels:
The lowest level is associated with physiological needs, while the uppermost level is associated with self-actualization needs, particularly those related to identity and purpose.
The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are met. Once an individual has moved upwards to the next level, needs in the lower level will no longer be prioritized. If a lower set of needs is no longer be met, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs by focusing attention on the unfulfilled needs, but will not permanently regress to the lower level.
For instance, a businessman at the esteem level who is diagnosed with cancer will spend a great deal of time concentrating on his health (physiological needs), but will continue to value his work performance (esteem needs) and will likely return to work during periods of remission.
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Special thanks to William's Desk
Salem-News.com Writer William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.
He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
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