(Clearwisdom.net) After being detained for seventeen months, Mr. Vu Duc Trung and his brother-in-law Mr. Le Van Thanh, Falun Gong practitioners in Vietnam, were sentenced to three years and two years in prison, respectively, on November 10, 2011. They had been put on trial for sending short wave signals of Sound of Hope radio programs to Mainland China. The Vietnamese government's mistreatment and sentencing of Falun Gong practitioners and its caving in to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has triggered concern and condemnation in the international community.
International human rights organizations and other human rights organizations around the world have condemned the Vietnamese government for the detention of Falun Gong practitioners and infringement on their freedom of speech in the past year. Upon learning of the sentence, Falun Gong practitioners in Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Austria, Taiwan, Korea, Australia and other countries protested at Vietnamese embassies and consulates.
Mr. Vu Duc Trung, 31, CEO of a high-tech company in Hanoi, and Mr. Le Van Thanh, 36, were arrested and detained by the Department of Police and the Ministry of Public Security in June 2011.
Mr. Vu Duc Trung
Ms. Doris Chen, the spokesperson for Sound of Hope in Sydney, said that Mr. Vu and Mr. Le exposed the crimes of the CCP to the Chinese society, including the persecution of Falun Gong and the CCP's forcibly harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners. She also said that what they did didn't harm the Vietnamese people or government and was legal, based on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Sending short wave radio signals does not violate criminal law in Vietnam. The broadcast to Mainland China broke the information blockade by the CCP, which angered the CCP and had them put pressure on the Vietnamese government. By detaining and sentencing the practitioners, the Vietnamese government yielded completely to the CCP.
On October 5, 2011, Freedom House condemned China's use of diplomatic pressure to engage in further crackdowns on religious minorities and to restrict freedom of expression outside of its borders. On the same day, Reporters Without Borders also released an article condemning the Vietnamese government's actions towards the two Falun Gong practitioners.
Falun Gong practitioners and human rights groups gathered in front of the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington D.C. on October 4, 2011, to protest the detention of Falun Gong practitioners.
Voice of Vietnamese Americans (VVA) issued a statement on November 4, urging the Vietnamese government to respect freedom of speech and religion, follow the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and release the detained Falun Gong practitioners.
A two-day human rights dialogue was held between the U.S. and Vietnam starting on November 9, 2011. Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, and the Falun Dafa Association in Washington D.C. issued statements condemning the Vietnamese government's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, and called for the American government to help the two Vietnamese Falun Gong practitioners gain freedom.
Mark Toner, Deputy Spokesman of the U.S Department of State, called the dialogue “exactly an opportunity for them to discuss a range of human rights issues between Vietnam and the U.S.” Another official of the State Department said the U.S. had clear standing on the issue of Falun Gong as well as the human rights problems in China and Vietnam. Both China and Vietnam were on the list of Countries of Particular Concern of the recent IRF report.
Falun Gong practitioners protest the imprisonment of practitioners by the Vietnamese government during the U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue on November 9, 2011.
New York-based Human Rights Watch called the sentencing of Mr. Le and Mr. Vu, “a violation of freedom of expression.” “Vietnam should not violate human rights and punish its own citizens merely because their activism displeased China,” Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director said in a statement.
“This is a sad day for Vietnam,” said Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang. “Sentencing Trung and Thanh to prison in a show trial is shameless and sets a dangerous precedent of the Vietnamese government caving to Chinese Communist Party pressure,” says Zhang. “We hope the international community can redouble its efforts to free these men immediately and use whatever leverage possible to ensure that the Vietnamese authorities stop abusing local Falun Gong practitioners.”
Falun Gong was spread to Vietnam in 2006. In recent years, Vietnam has bowed to the CCP’s influence. While Falun Gong is officially legal in Vietnam, the state has put systematic pressure on Falun Gong practitioners. A document issued by the Vietnamese government in April 2011 indicated its suppression of Falun Gong is due to pressure from the CCP. The Vietnamese police beat and dispersed about fifty Falun Gong practitioners who were protesting peacefully in front of the Chinese Embassy on November 8.