Today, Senator Thanh Hai Ngo issued the following Statement in response to the arrest of activist Pham Doan Trang in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam:
The glaring hypocrisy of Vietnam’s socialist regime was put on full display as Hanoi Police arrested prominent pro-democracy author and activist, Ms. Pham Doan Trang on “anti-state propaganda” charges, merely a few hours after the annually held US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue on October 6, 2020.
These charges, that fall under article 117 of the Vietnamese Penal Code pertaining to the “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and items against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, could put Ms. Trang behind bars for 20 years, if convicted. She faces imminent and almost-certain risk of torture and ill treatment while in custody. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Ms. Trang has been targeted for her work by the Vietnamese authorities. An internationally recognized author, recipient of the Reporters Without Borders 2019 Press Freedom Prize, and ardent critic of the lack of democracy, press freedom and rule of law in Vietnam, she has faced harsh and continued persecution from the authorities since returning to the country in 2015.
The fact that Ms. Trang had met with officials at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss the ongoing human rights abuses in Vietnam only further casts into stark relief the iron-fisted desperation that characterizes the ruling communist party’s repression of basic rights and universally enshrined fundamental freedoms, such as free speech. It is glaringly obvious that the arrest is nothing more than a “scorched earth response” to silence and punish this brave dissident once and for all.
I echo the sobering sentiments of Mr. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, who very accurately stated that each day spent by Ms. Trang behind bars amounted to a “grave injustice that violates Vietnam’s international human rights commitments and brings dishonor to the government,”.
The government of Canada, our democratic allies and the United Nations have a duty to safeguard and uphold the international rules-based order and that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s actions are consistent with its international human rights obligations and commitments. We must join together in calling for Pham Doan Trang’s immediate and unconditional release.
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo