“On Monday, three Vietnamese bloggers – Phan Thanh Hai, Ta Phong Tan and Nguyen Van Hai – were found guilty of spreading anti-government propaganda and jailed at a closed trial in Ho Chi Minh City that lasted less than six hours,” Senator Boswell said.
“Phan Thanh Hai, penname Anh Ba Saigon, was sentenced to four years in prison and three years house arrest. Ta Phong Tan, policewoman-turned-author of the blog Truth and Justice, received a ten year prison sentence and a five year house arrest term. Nguyen Van Hai, better known as Dieu Cay, was jailed for twelve years with five years house arrest.”
Senator Boswell criticised the sentences as an unjustifiable censorship measure by the Communist government of Vietnam. He also denounced the intimidation tactics used by Vietnamese police to prevent family members and supporters from attending the trials.
“The jailing of these bloggers by little more than a kangaroo court is a new dark point for press freedoms and human rights in Vietnam,” Senator Boswell said.
“The only crime of these peaceful citizen journalists was to speak out against corrupt elements within their government. This government is intent on wiping out all dissent against it on the Internet, as it has done by banning private media in Vietnam and tightly controlling the state-run newspapers and television channels.”
Earlier this year, Senator Boswell spoke in the Senate about Viet Khang, a Vietnamese musician imprisoned for posting two songs online critical of the government. Together with Labor Senator Mark Furner, Senator Boswell presented a community petition and successfully moved a motion in the Senate calling on the Australian government to improve its human rights dialogue with Vietnam.
“The harsh prison sentences handed down to these bloggers by the Vietnamese government only highlights the need for better action by the Australian government to help improve the human rights situation in Vietnam,” Senator Boswell said.
“It is outrageous that Dieu Cay was detained for 23 months before his case went to trial. Australia, as a leading democratic country, has a responsibility to ensure these terrible cases become a thing of the past for Vietnam.”