Home News International rights group calls on Vietnam to release women political prisoners

International rights group calls on Vietnam to release women political prisoners

The Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) – or Quê Me – marked Friday’s International Women’s Day with a call for the release of all the country’s female prisoners of conscience.

More than 30 of Vietnam’s 200-plus political prisoners are women, the group said.

While the government claims these women threatened national security or caused harm to the nation, VCHR said the reality is that they were simply fighting for basic rights, social justice, and a clean environment.

It said their arrests violated the Vietnamese constitution, national legislation, and international human rights law.

“By stifling these essential voices, Vietnam is not only violating its binding international commitments but also jeopardizing its own future,” VCHR Vice-President Võ Trần Nhật said.

“A clean environment cannot be built without environmentalists, a society respectful of human rights cannot exist without human rights defenders.”

VCHR cited the cases of eight women prisoners, including Nguyễn Thúy Hạnh who is being treated for cancer while in detention.

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Hanh, who in 2016 ran for a seat in Vietnam’s National Assembly, was arrested in April 2021 on charges of “anti-state propaganda,” for allegedly disseminating materials against the state.

After a year of incarceration in a Hanoi prison, she was forced into treatment for depression at the Central Mental Institute in Hanoi. In January, her husband wrote on Facebook that her harsh treatment had made her condition much worse.

VCHR said that as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council and a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Vietnam should respect its binding international commitments to respect human rights, including environmental and workers’ rights, and end the arbitrary detention of activists.

The organization called on all U.N. member states to participate in Vietnam’s fourth Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on May 7, 2024, to pressure Hanoi to release all human rights defenders, bloggers, and environmental rights defenders from Vietnam’s prisons.

It said the international community needed to urge Vietnam to immediately abolish the provisions in the National Security chapter of the criminal law, especially articles 109, 117, and 331 used to arrest and detain individuals who assert their rights to freedom of speech, association, assembly and expression, and religion and belief.

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