The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement today (27 August) on the sentencing of three human rights activists to prison sentences of several years in Viet Nam:
I am concerned about the heavy sentences of imprisonment handed down to the three human rights activists for ‘causing public disorder’. These activists now face years of imprisonment, for the petty crime of temporarily obstructing traffic.
This punishment is totally out of proportion and grotesque; it goes to show just how problematic the human rights situation in Viet Nam remains: dissenters are still being repressed, intimidated or imprisoned.
I call on the Vietnamese authorities to suspend the sentences of imprisonment and release the activists immediately. Viet Nam is a member of the UN Human Rights Council and has signed numerous UN human rights conventions. It must live up to these commitments.
The activists Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh were sentenced on 26 August 2014 to prison sentences of three years, two years and two and half years respectively for ‘causing public disorder’. Visitors and international observers were excluded from the criminal proceedings, which are normally open to the public. The EU and its member states believe that several dozen political prisoners are being held in Viet Nam, the majority of them for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and assembly. Viet Nam does not score highly in NGO assessments regarding civil and political rights.