Urgent Appeal: Vietnam Must Halt Trial of Falun Gong Practitioners over China Broadcasts
Chinese Embassy memo prompted pair's arrest, prosecution
New York—Two Vietnamese Falun Gong practitioners are scheduled to stand trial Friday for broadcasting uncensored news programs into China, following a request from Beijing to crackdown. Under such pressure, the Vietnamese authorities have been stepping up harassment of the local Falun Gong community in recent months. The Falun Dafa Information Center urges members of the international community to press for the pair’s immediate and unconditional release.
Two Vietnamese men who practice Falun Gong—Mr. Vu Duc Trung, a 30-year-old CEO of a high-tech company, and his 35-year-old brother-in-law Mr. Le Van Thanh—are to stand trial in Hanoi on April 8, 2011. The pair 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 minorities. Trung initiated the broadcasts in April 2009.
The pair were abducted on June 11, 2010 and have remained in custody since, with little possibility for their family members to visit them. At the time, in addition to computers and broadcasting equipment, police also confiscated their personal Falun Gong-related materials.
According to the indictment, 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 the 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 illegal activities of Falun Gong individuals in the Vietnam territory must be attacked and stopped.”
Eight days after their detention, charges were pressed against the pair, an action that their lawyer says is unjust and in violation of Vietnam’s own laws.
“Falun Gong is a practice which helps people to improve the mind and the body,” Mr. Tran Dinh Trien, the pair’s lawyer, told Radio Free Asia. “There are no official documents saying Falun Gong is prohibited in Vietnam. Consequently this information [Trung was broadcasting] does not affect public security, politics and public order in society. Therefore it is against [Vietnamese] law if he is prosecuted for … broadcasting [such] information.”
As Chinese Communist Party officials have directly urged their Vietnamese counterparts to crackdown on Falun Gong practitioners in the country, the case is widely viewed as a test for whether Vietnam will bow to such pressures.
“Falun Gong is practiced freely and welcomed by people in over 100 countries around the world. It has already improved the health and well-being of hundreds of Vietnamese citizens,” says Falun Gong spokesperson Erping Zhang. “We urge their government not to given into the Chinese Communist Party’s pressure and follow its irrational decision to persecute Falun Gong. That fateful move has only caused immense suffering to tens of millions of people in China, Falun Gong and non-Falun Gong practitioners alike.”
In recent months, other incidents of restrictions being imposed on Falun Gong practitioners in Vietnam have also been reported. Most recently, according to the Epoch Times, a memo dated March 30, 2011 cites an official order requiring the Official People’s Committee in B?n Tre to halt all distribution of Falun Gong materials.
Although Falun Gong keeps no member lists, it is estimated that several hundred people follow the spiritual discipline in Vietnam. Two weeks ago 15 police officers reportedly detained 11 Falun Gong practitioners in Bien Hoa. One local practitioner told Radio Free Asia that he had been taken into custody by the police, who handcuffed him and burned his arm, leaving marks.
- The Falun Dafa Information Center calls on the Vietnamese authorities to drop the charges against these two men, immediately release them from custody, and allow Falun Gong practitioners to continue to pursue the spiritual path of their choice without interference.
- The Center urges journalists, human rights groups, and Western government officials to act quickly and urgently call on the Vietnamese to drop the charges and annul the trial. The following is one relevant phone number that can be called:
Deputy Minister of Investigation and Security, Huong Van Nguyen, at +84 (0)4-38226602 or +84(0)69-42545. Faxes can also be sent to: +84(0)69-41038 or +84(0)4-39420223.
- The Epoch Times: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/54162/
- YouTube video with additional details (Vietnamese): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAg_dv6LaRg
- BBC article on Falun Gong’s spread in Vietnam, Apriil 2009: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7987230.stm
- Additional details and interviewees available upon request