The sentencing of two Vietnamese musicians to prison for posting songs online that criticised the Vietnamese government represents a gross violation of human rights, Queensland LNP Senator Ron Boswell said today.
After a five-hour trial in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday, songwriters Viet Khang and Tran Vu Anh Binh were handed four and six year prison sentences respectively. They also received separate two-year surveillance sentences.
“The songs the communist Vietnamese government has labelled anti-state propaganda were merely two innocent men exercising their right to question their government’s actions,” Senator Boswell said.
“Viet Khang and Tran Vu Anh Binh had every right to protest. Their songs brought wide-spread attention to the violent police crackdowns that took place in Vietnam in 2011 against protestors critical of the government.
“The imprisonment of these peaceful songwriters represents another low for the Vietnamese government which continues to hold an abysmal human rights record.”
Senator Boswell spoke in the Senate at the start of this year on Viet Khang’s detention without trial. He, along with Labor Senator Mark Furner, later presented a petition from the Vietnamese community urging the Australian government to improve its human rights dialogue with Vietnam to help secure the release of unjustly detained Vietnamese citizens.
Following the jailing of three prominent Vietnamese bloggers last month, Senator Boswell spoke out against the Vietnamese government’s campaign of censorship. The bloggers, Phan Thanh Hai, Ta Phong Tan and Nguyen Van Hai, were also found guilty of spreading anti-government propaganda online.
“These are Vietnamese men and women being sentenced to prison, or simply being held without charge, all because the Communist regime cannot tolerate any form of dissent,” Senator Boswell said.
“It is time the Vietnamese government heed the calls of human rights organisations like Amnesty International to respect its people’s right to freedom of expression, and to release all prisoners it has jailed for bringing its actions to light.”