Urgent Appeal Update: Vietnam to Try Falun Gong Radio Broadcasters Thursday

Repeated rescheduling highlights efforts to sneak in trial despite international condemnation

NEW YORK–The trial of two Falun Gong practitioners in Vietnam that has been postponed twice under international pressure is now scheduled to take place on Thursday (November 10), the Falun Dafa Informaton Center recently learned. The pair are charged with broadcasting uncensored news programs via radio into China and have been in custody for 17 months, apparently because of pressure from the Chinese Communist Party on the Vietnamese authorities.

“The Vietnamese government must stop playing games with these men’s lives and trying to sneak in a trial when they think the rest of the world isn’t paying attention,” says Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang. “This trial violates international and Vietnamese law and had been repeatedly condemned by human rights groups and foreign governments. It’s clear that the two men are in detention only because of Chinese Communist Party pressure. We hope the Vietnamese government can do the right thing and release them immediately and unconditionally.”

“We urge the international community not to let down their guard and to again apply strong, quick pressure on the Vietnamese authorities not to sentence these human rights defenders to jail.”

This is the third attempt to sentence Mr. Vu Duc Trung, a 31-year-old CEO of a high-tech company, and his 36-year-old brother-in-law Mr. Le Van Thanh. The first trial scheduled in April 2011 and a second one scheduled in October 2011 were postponed (news) following international pressure and criticism from press freedom groups like Reporters without Borders (news) and Freedom House (news). 

Trung and Thanh are two Vietnamese men who practice Falun Gong. They are charged with “transmitting information illegally onto the telecommunications network” for having broadcast news programs of Sound of Hope radio via short-wave radio into China. Sound of Hope’s programs typically report on human rights abuses, corruption, and repression of Falun Gong practitioners and other persecuted groups. Trung initiated the broadcasts in April 2009. The two men were abducted on June 11, 2010 and have remained in custody since, with very few family visits.

The mistreatment of Trung and Thanh is occurring amidst a broader intensification of Vietnamese harassment of the local Falun Gong community following direct Chinese Communist Party pressure. According to the indictment used, the Vietnamese government arrested the men after a diplomatic memo was sent on May 30, 2010, from the Chinese Embassy to Vietnam’s Ministry of Investigation and Security.

“The memo stated that the Police Department in China discovered radio signals coming from Vietnamese territory containing the same content about Falun Gong as heard on the ‘Sound of Hope’ radio station,” the indictment reads. “It was recommended that all … activities of Falun Gong individuals in the Vietnam territory must be attacked and stopped.”

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