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Public Statements

Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS ACT OF 2007 -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 18, 2007)

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, in light of the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007, H.R. 3096, which was debated on the House Floor yesterday, September 17, 2007, and which passed overwhelmingly this afternoon, I would like to include in the record portions of the trial proceedings for Attorney Nguyen Van Dai and Attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan who are referenced in this legislation. Both individuals were ruthlessly seized by the Government of Vietnam on March 6, 2007, in Vietnam's most recent crackdown on democracy and human rights advocates. The accused each received years of imprisonment after being found guilty of ``disseminating propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,'' I urge each and every one of my colleagues to read this chilling account of the Vietnamese justice system.

The People's Court of Hanoi City

Preliminary criminal sentence, No. 153/2007/HSST, May 11, 2007. In the name of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, The People's Court of Hanoi City. The Preliminary Trial Committee is composed of:

Presiding Judge: Mr. Nguyen Huu Chinh. People's Jurors: 1. Mr. Nguyen Thanh Ha, 2. Mrs. Tran Hong Thuy. Court clerk/recorder: Mrs. Nguyen Thi Huyen, cadre of the People's Court of Hanoi City, Representative of The Hanoi City People's Office of Procuracy: 1. Mr. Dinh Trong Nghia, Procurator, 2. Mr. Dinh Quoc Thai, Procurator.

On May 11, 2007, the following defendants were preliminarily tried by the People's Court of Hanoi City under Criminal Docket No. 138/2007/HSST of April 24, 2007:

1. NGUYEN VAN DAI born 1969, in Da Trach, Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province; domiciled at Apartment 302, House Z8, Back Khoa Communal Building, Bach Khoa Ward, Hai Ba Trung Precinct, Ha Noi City; occupation at the time of committing crimes: Head Attorney of the Thien An Law Office; educational background: Grade 12/12; born of Mr. Nguyen Van Cap and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thom; married to Vu Minh Khanh; arrested and placed under temporary detention since March 6, 2007; is present at the trial.

2. LE THI CONG NHAN: born 1979 in Go Cong Tay, Tien Giang Province; domiciled at Apartment 48 (currently Apartment 316), House A7, Government Office Employees' Communal Building, Phuong Mai Ward, Dong Da Precinct, Ha Noi City; occupation at the time of committing crimes: Staff Attorney of the Thien An Law Office; educational background: Grade 12/12; born of Mr. Le Minh Duc and Mrs. Tran Thi Le; arrested and placed under temporary detention since March 6, 2007; is present at the trial.

Defendant Nguyen Van Dai's trial attorneys: Mr. Tran Lam, Hai Phong City Lawyers Bar (in attendance), Mr. Dam Van Hieu, Attorney, Thong Nhat Law Office, Ha Noi City Lawyers Bar (in attendance), Defendant Le Thi Cong Nhan's trial attorney, Mr. Tran Lam, Hai Phong City Lawyers' Bar (in attendance).

BE IT JUDGED THAT: 1. Relative to defendant Nguyen Van Dai. At both the investigative offices and the trial, defendant Nguyen Van Dai admitted that he had written a number of articles, e.g. ``Freedom to Form a [Political] Party'' and ``Vietnamese People Have the Ability to Build a Multi-Party System''. The defendants had distributed these articles through the media of reactionary Vietnamese organizations overseas, and participated in interviews via the Internet with overseas anti-socialist elements. The contents of these articles were meant to smear and degrade the leading role of the VCP. He maintained that under current circumstances, because the VCP did not have enough ability to lead the Revolution Vietnam is in dire need of a change of the ruling party or to a pluralistic, multi-party system in order to emerge out of poverty.

As provided for in Article 4 of the SVN's Constitution, the VCP--the vanguard of the worker class and loyal representative serving the interests of the worker class and the working people--is the leading force of the State and society. That positively affirms that since the VCP is the only preferred leader of the Vietnam Revolution all other political parties and their activities are in fact in non-compliance and illegal. Because of the fact that the defendant is the one who drafted the ``Bylaws'' of the Democratic Party and supported the platforms of Hoang Minh Chinh's Democratic Party, and that he has also written a number of articles, criticizing the VCP and advocating a pluralistic and multi-party regime, Dai has obviously committed a serious violation of the Constitution and laws of Vietnam.

Based on the admissible evidences and Dai's own admissions at the trial, from the time when the Thien An Law Office was founded to his arrest, Dai had never served as a trial lawyer and acted according to his duties, as specified in his professional license. Instead, he had made contacts and exchanged information regarding democracy and human rights with a number of political opportunists who acted in opposition to the VCP and against the SRV. The defendant had joined and enthusiastically supported the platforms of the so-called Vietnam Progression Party (VPP) and Bloc 8406, a [political] organization founded illegally by Nguyen Van Ly in Vietnam. The defendant had conferred and concurred with Nguyen Van Ly on the platform of the VPP, as well as visited Ho Chi Minh City to engage a number of Do Nam Hai's supporters in various efforts to support both Bloc 8406 and the VPP.

The defendant was also a member of the ``Independent Trade Union''. He admitted to his contacts with such overseas individuals as Nguyen Dinh Thang, Vu Quoc Dung, Tran Ngoc Thanh, etc., which focused on ``democracy and human rights issues''. However, seized documents and evidences have attested to the intentions of these exiled Vietnamese who are fiercely opposed to the State. The defendant's contacts with these subjects have gone beyond the discussion of democracy and human rights issues, and they have in fact intended to form a number of organizations and political parties in opposition to the VCP and the SRV. According to witness Tran Van Hoa's statements, on September 2006 defendant Dai asked the former to come to Hanoi so that they could together make a trip to China, where they planned to meet with Tran Ngoc Thanh, an overseas Vietnamese in Poland to discuss the founding of the ``so-called'' Independent Trade Union.

Having searched the Thien An Law Office headed by Nguyen Van Dai, and the residence of Nguyen Van Dai, the investigative authorities seized numerous documents, among which there were 121 stacks of documents. Some documents containing contents of extremely reactionary nature are meant to twist the facts about the VCP, and to smear the honor and tarnish the reputations of the Party, President Ho Chi Minh and the top leaderships of the Party and the State, e.g. a document titled ``The Vietnamese Communist Party is Bad Karma,'' and ``The Secrets of the New Vietnamese Prime Minister.'' Another 475-page document, authored by a ``Quoc-Quoc,'' is full of distortions with regard to the history of the revolutionary struggle, the policies of the VCP and the State throughout the different stages of the Revolution, as well as blemishes and badmouthing against the high-ranking officials and top cadres of the Party.

The document, titled ``Diary of a Victim of Injustice,'' contains the slants and distortions of facts, and false allegations that the government and police brutally repressed legal complainants. In addition, the authorities also captured many documents written by other anti-State political opportunists, notably ``Democracy and Human Rights in VN'' and ``Eternal Aspirations,'' authored by Nguyen Thanh Giang. Scores of other documents and publications circulated by overseas Vietnamese organizations include the bi-monthly ``Tu Do Ngon Luan,'' (Freedom of Speech) the ``To Quoc'' (Fatherland) magazine, the ``Tu Do Dan Chu'' (Freedom & Democracy) newsletter, the Bloc 8406-proclaimed ``The Declaration of Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam''. Being very reactionary in content, these documents are full of distortions of the current realities of Vietnam and allegations that all the inalienable rights of the Vietnamese people are being brutally trampled upon and the contentions that their goal is to struggle for a change of regime in Vietnam.

At the trial, the defendant admitted to having contacts and Internet direct-linked interviews with foreign newspapers and radio stations regarding the issues of democracy and human rights in Vietnam. However, documented evidences have revealed that during these contacts and interviews the defendant always provided untruths and distortions regarding the democracy and human rights situation in Vietnam, and provocative badmouthing against the socialist regime and the VCP, and he called for a change of regime as well. At the same time, he had received other documents calling for a boycott of the 2007 National Assembly Election. Another document ``Wear White on the 1st and 15th of the Month in Support of Democracy,'' a campaign document published by Bloc 8406 proclaiming 10 conditions for a multi-party National Assembly election. Another Bloc 8406 document initiated the launching of a boycott of the 2007 One-Party National Assembly Election.

Nguyen Van Dai held classes regularly at the Thien An law office to provide propaganda on the subject of Democracy, Human Dignity and Human Rights. Witnesses Dong Thi Giang, Khong Van Thanh, Nguyen Ba Truc, and Giap Van Hieu that Dai had invited to participate in the classes, all affirmed that during those class lectures both Dai and Nhan had zealously badmouthed the political and social state of the nation, the Government of the SRV. Dai had alleged that the SRV does not respect human rights and has employed torture and violence against innocent citizens. The defendant, while maintaining that the ``Party Nominates, Citizen Elects'' election trick is undemocratic, called for a change of the socialist regime that would deny the VCP its monopoly of power in order to achieve social equality.

The defendant's criminal conduct has constituted the crime of ``disseminating propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,'' as stipulated in Article 88 of the Criminal Code and determined in the indictment of the Hanoi City People's Office of Procuracy. :

2. Relative to defendant Le Thi Cong Nhan. At the investigative offices and at the trial, the defendant admitted that she was a member of the Vietnam Progression Party (VPP) and that of Bloc 8406 (founded by Nguyen Van Ly). Nhan participated as the VPP spokesperson. She indicated that she had joined the party voluntarily. The Trial Committee is of the opinion that the purpose of this organization is to act against the VCP and the SRV in order to drastically change the political regime of Vietnam. Her organization appealed for a pluralistic, multi-party system and incited the people to ``Wear White'' as a demonstration of support for democracy. As such, the defendant's participation and support of the VPP's platform is a violation of State laws.

The defendant herself wrote the article, ``The Truth about the Repeal of Decree 31/CP of April 14, 1997''. The content of her article indicates that the repeal of this decree was phony with the intent to misdirect public opinion. In her interviews, the defendant also commented on Directive 37 issued by the Prime Minister that this directive is undemocratic as it prohibits freedom of the press. All her articles contain fabrications, defamations, ridicules, and attacks on the regime. The defendant maintained that the Vietnamese political structure is dictatorial, infantile, and uncivilized. Nhan's articles and documents were distributed in the form of direct answers to foreign radio networks such as BBC, RFA (Radio Free Asia), or Internet-linked interviews with overseas Vietnamese exiles.

In a house search, the investigative authorities have seized many stacks of documents which had been circulated by both domestic and overseas political opportunists. These documents contain bad-intent distortions of the facts and protests against the current directions and policies of the Party and the State. They include: appeals to ``boycott the National Assembly Election of 2007; demands for a pluralistic, multi-party system, etc.; instructions for the populace to ``Wear White'' on the first and 15th day of the month to support democracy in Vietnam; ``Let's Paint a Portrait of a Free and Democratic Vietnam''; ``How to Fight Fear'' (written by Nguyen Van Ly); ``The Declaration of Democracy for Vietnam 2006''; ``The Preliminary Platform of the Vietnam Progression Party''; ``The Founding of an Alliance of National Forces for Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights''; ``Bloc 8406 To Announce 10 Conditions for a Multi-Party National Assembly Election and How To Boycott This Election''; ``Bloc 8406 initiating a Campaign to Reject the Single-Party National Assembly Election of 2007''.

The defendant has also provided her students with propaganda in her so-called ``Democracy'' course. With great discontent, she has criticized and smeared our regime, falsified the history of the People's VCP-led revolutionary struggle, as well as called for the replacement of the current VCP by another political party or a pluralistic, multi-party system.

The defendant's criminal conduct has constituted the crime of ``disseminating propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,'' as stipulated by Article 88 of the Criminal Code and charged with in the indictment of the Hanoi City People's Office of Procuracy.

The crimes both defendants have committed are very severe. They have taken advantage of their democratic rights and freedom to produce, possess, and distribute various documents meant to libel the People's Government and oppose the SRV. Their conduct is deemed to be dangerous to society. It has generated bad opinion both in and outside of the country, and has directly damaged our national security interests, as well as the benefits and achievements that the Vietnamese people have made throughout our long struggle for building and safeguarding the nation. Their conduct has resulted in the tarnished reputations of the VCP, the socialist regime, and our leaders among the populace. They, being Vietnamese citizens, shall have the absolute obligations to abide by the laws of Vietnam. Consequently, they are to be severely punished, once found to be in violation, as provided for by the laws of Vietnam.

Although still at young age and having yet made contributions to the country, both defendants Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan have committed serious crimes to the detriment of our national interests and security. They need to be severely punished before the court of law in order to appreciate fully the effects of reform, education, and deterrence. In this case, defendant Nguyen Van Dai has been found to have actively engaged in carrying out his crimes although his admissions were not truly sincere, Dai is to deserve a heavier punishment. Defendant Le Thi Cong Nhan has also actively committed her crimes. As she was found not to be fully cooperative in her admission at the investigative offices and at the trial, she is to be punished according to the severity of her crimes.

House arrest shall be an additional requirement to their main punishments, as stipulated by Article 92 of the Criminal Code.

Evidential material: The investigative authorities have seized numerous evidences from the Thien An Law Office, as well as the residences of defendants Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan. It is determined that these evidences were used as a means to have committed their crimes, and therefore shall be confiscated and kept in State's depositories. Other captured evidences, of insignificant values, shall be destroyed.

For the above-mentioned reasons, BE IT DECIDED THAT: Verdict: Defendants Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan are guilty of ``disseminating propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam''.

Penalty: Nguyen Van Dai is sentenced to 5 (five) years of imprisonment, effective as of his temporary detention which began on March 6, 2007.

Penalty: Le Thi Cong Nhan is sentenced to 4 (four) years of imprisonment, effective as of her temporary detention which began on March 6, 2007.

Additional penalty: Defendant Nguyen Van Dai is sentenced to 4 (four) years of house arrest upon completion of his imprisonment term. Defendant Le Thi Cong Nhan is sentenced to 3 (three) years of house arrest upon completion of her imprisonment term.

Evidential material: to be confiscated and kept in State depositories 6 CPUs, 1 flat-screen monitor, 1 desktop computer (16 inch, make Samsung), 1 digital recorder (make Digital Live SDR-6404), 1 Card Reader (make QS 034 Ba07), 1 desktop computer cable, 1 notebook (make HP:S/NCND604172F; PN EP412UA # ABA), 1 scanner (make Canon F915800), 1 modem (make AR 325W, 6H057-15379), 1 Webcam (Colorvis). Destroyed 2 hard drive, 1 hard disk (make HD080HJ-PIN 137216FL740777P/ V FS S/N081KL702016), 1 hard disk (make SP4011N-S/NSO1JJ50YB41562-PN: 1187J2FYB 15242P/VFS).

These evidential materials are currently stored at the Hanoi Evidence Depository Locker (Executed per the receipt of April 23, 2007).

Defendants Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan are to be fined a court fee of 50.000 dongs each and are entitled to filing appeals within 15 days of the pronouncement of their preliminary sentences.

For the Preliminary Trial Committee, Nguyen Huu Chinh, Presiding Judge.


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