News Watch about Vietnam and pro-democracy movements
THE ASSOCIATION OF FORMER PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
On The Release of the Two Prisoners of Conscience,
Mr. Tran Tu and Mr. Nguyen Tuan Nam
On the 25th and 26th of September 2014, the Vietnamese Government released the two long-held political prisoners, Mr. Tran Tu and Mr. Nguyen Tuan Nam.
The first release, Mr. Tran Tu, born in 1941, is a US citizen and member of the Joint Revolutionary Party of Vietnam. He was arrested in Saigon in March 1993 and later sentenced to life in prison for “plotting to overthrow the Government,” and being detained at the Ba Sao Prison in Nam Ha.
The second release, Mr. Nguyen Tuan Nam, born in 1938, is a member of the People’s Action Party. He was arrested at the Thailand – Cambodia border in November 1996 and later sentenced to 19 years in prison for “escaping to foreign country to oppose the People’s Government” and detained at Z30A Prison, Dong Nai province. These individuals are truly prisoners of conscience because the parties of which they are members are the political organizations seeking freedom, democracy, and human rights for Vietnam through peaceful and nonviolent means.
As for Mr. Nguyen Tan Nam, in January 2013 he suffered a stroke resulting in the paralysis of the left side of his body. Although he was treated at the prison’s clinic, his health was getting worse. Presently, he could not talk audibly, nor could he walk or sit by himself. Because of the fact that he had no relative, and perhaps because of his wish, he was transported and delivered to the residence of his former cellmate, Mr. Pham Ba Hai who was only informed of this delivery when the ambulance that carried the released prisoner neared his home.
The release of these two long-imprisoned individuals (late September 2014) was considered “sensitive to foreign affairs,” when there were signs that the U.S. might lift the ban on the sale of offensive weapons to Vietnam. It was also the time Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh was about to meet with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry and efforts were made for Vietnam to be accepted to the TPP.
Given these events, the Association of Former Prisoners of Conscience (AFPC) hereby:
1. Strongly condemns the Vietnamese Communist Government for its totalitarian mentality that prevents non-Communist parties from operating despite their demands for parliamentary participation through peaceful and nonviolent means, and its pursuit of dissidents (even beyond national border), and the arrests and heavy sentences of non-Communist party members. We also deplore the fact that the Vietnamese Communist Government uses the release of prisoner-of-conscience card to bargain for its admission to International organizations (such as the TPP), or to wiggle out of sanctions such as the CPC list, then arrests some prisoners for future uses.
2. Strongly denounce the Vietnamese Communist police who, because of their hatred and contempt towards political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, have implemented a punitive regime that causes physical devastation and mental destruction to prisoners. Countless prisoners of conscience have been oppressed by a variety of way: solitary confinement, starving, beating, no treatment of illness and even measured poisoning that cause them to die in prison or soon after they are released. These punishments also result in incurable diseases for some prisoners, as in the case of Messrs. Truong Van Suong, Nguyen Van Trai, Dinh Dang Dinh, Huynh Anh Tri, Nguyen Huu Cau, and Nguyen Tuan Nam etc… Because of irresponsible behaviors, the police leave the care of the released prisoners of conscience who suffered under the prison regime to their families and friends. The police also continue to cause difficulties to the former prisoners by not issuing ID cards and preventing their choice of residence or professions.
3. Earnestly call for democratic governments international human rights organizations
a. To pay special attention to the tragic situation of the former political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who continue to suffer in Vietnam.
b. To send people to help them with medical treatment, and
c. To use human rights as a condition of negotiations with Hanoi authorities, forcing them to choose TPP or CPC.
4. Calls upon our fellow Vietnamese, especially the overseas compatriots and particularly our comrades-in-arms, to generously embrace and support the wellbeing of those have sacrificed for the national cause and our country's destiny.
The AFPC is honored to act as an intermediary for all the good deeds that you offer to deserving members of our organization.
September 28th, 2014.
The International Day of the Right to Know and to Speak Out.
Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Fr. Phan Van Loi, Co-chairs.
Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, Chairperson.
MSc. Pham Ba Hai, Counselor Nguyen Van Dai.
Dr. Pham Chi Dung.