STATEMENT BY THE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION OF VIETNAM
On May 23, the Investigation Security Agency of Ho Chi Minh City, announced the prosecution and arrested Mr. Thuy Tuong Nguyen, Vice President of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN). The Agency accused him of “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and articles to be used against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, according to Article 117 of the Vietnam’s Penal Code.”
Previously, on November 21, 2019, the same Agency also arrested Mr. Dung Chi Pham, the president of the IJAVN on the same charges under Article 117 of the Vietnam’s Penal Code.
The IJAVN is civil-society professional organization of independent journalists that is established and operates under Article 25 of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which states “Citizens have the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of access to information, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of protest”.
Since its establishment, the IJAVN has operated entirely based upon the rights to free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association. These rights have been committed by the government of Vietnam to the international community.
With the arrests of Misters Dung Chi Pham and Thuy Tuong Nguyen and at the same time, continuing harassment of multiple members of the IJAVN, the Vietnamese authorities have pursued and implemented the policy of completely shut down all moderate exchanges through peaceful views in the main popular press operated by the IJAVN.
In doing so, the government seriously violates the rights to free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association that the State of Vietnam has committed in the Law of International Treaties, and these rights have been approved by the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, term XIII, the 11th session on April 9, 2016.
The detention and surveillance by the authorities with the aim to completely eliminate the personnel and organization of the IJAVN showed that the non-binding dialogues on human rights between Vietnam and the European Union and the United States are not workable and completely unrealistic.
The arrest of Misters Dung Chi Pham and Thuy Tuong Nguyen is an unacceptable act. It is completely contrary to the basic freedoms and rights of the citizens of Vietnam, as well as contrary to the commitments of the State of Vietnam to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the commitments to human rights when Vietnam was negotiating and subsequently signed the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in June 2019.
In this regard, we condemn the behavior of the Vietnamese government that contravenes the Article 25 of the 2013 Constitution. This behavior is contrary to the progressive and civilized trend of human societies with respect to the implementation of universal values en route to civilization, virtue and prosperity.
In the context that the whole country is facing an invasion and pressure from China and the people are facing extreme difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic, we need solidarity and consensus from the people, organizations and social classes to overcome the challenges that we need to face together.
The acts of the Vietnamese authorities to arrest journalists and suppress peaceful and moderate voices during this time are totally against what needs to be done right now to set society on a stable, progressive and growth path.
When the whole world is witnessing the lack of progress associated with authoritarians and is condemning dictatorships who hinder the progress of the peoples, the fact that the government of Vietnam is suppressing the conduct and reporting of the IJAVN should alienate the civilized world.
We declare: The IJAVN will continue to operate based on the principles and objectives of establishing an association of independent journalists, specifically independent from the government. The IJAVN emphasizes the need for moderate dialogue and peaceful criticism of misconducts and violations.
We call on the international community, especially countries that have acceded to the international conventions that Vietnam has signed, and to the countries concerned, to take more practical actions towards the Vietnamese government, ensuring that the authorities respect human rights and the rights of its citizens, respect and fulfill the commitments the government has solemnly signed and committed.
It is time to make it clear to the government of Vietnam that: promises and commitments that the government doesn’t fulfill in reality, in fact the government violates them, are promises and commitments that have no values.
We call on all Vietnamese people to be fully aware of their civil rights, especially the fundamental rights such as freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association. These rights are seriously abused by the government. Collectively, we need to carry forward our peaceful struggle to regain our own rights – the right to be human. Thereby, we ask for your growing support of the IJAVN.
We call for the solidarity of the members of the IJAVN in confronting this great challenge. At the same time, we call on individuals and organizations inside Vietnam and abroad with track record of defending human rights to work with us and support our efforts to defend ourselves against the upcoming violations of human rights by the government, which we anticipate in the near future.
(Translated by Pham Dinh Ba)