Vietnamese Court Upholds Dissidents’ Jail Sentences

By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer,
Asia

HANOI, Vietnam – A Vietnamese appeals court upheld the sentences of four dissidents who were sentenced in 2007 for “spreading distorted information to undermine the state.” Judge Nguyen Xuan Phat of the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ho Chi Minh City refused to reduce the sentences of Tran Thi Le Hong, Phung Quang Quyen, Doan Van Dien, and his son Doan Huy Chuong. According to Ho Thi Thuong, wife of Doan Vien Dien and mother of Doan Huy Chuong, the court refused because in giving interviews with Radio Free Asia, the four committing very serious crimes because they had defamed the government and many people had listened. The four have jail terms ranging from 18 months to 4 ½ years.

The Vietnamese government accused the four of collecting complaints of land-rights violations and giving the information to Radio Free Asia and other news organizations. The four are also accused of distributing anti-government leaflets prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The four are affiliated with the United Workers-Farmers Organization [UWFO]. UWFO campaigns for the right to form independent labor unions and defends farmers whose land has been confiscated

Vietnam news organizations have reported that the four have deliberated tried to sabotage Vietnam with lies. According the Vietnam news organizations, the four men have collected information regarding land-rights in the country and changed their contents before distributing them and uploaded the information on anti-Vietnam websites. Doan Van Dien is also accused of asking his son Doan Huy Chuong to give phone interviews to Radio Free Asia and Hoa Mai Club Radio disguised as a worker taking part in the labor strikes. Vietnam news organizations allege that Doan Huy Chuong distorted facts and falsely accused the state of repressing workers and arresting demonstrators.

For more information, please see:

Earthtimes – Vietnamese Dissidents’ Sentences Upheld – 26 February 2008

Radio Free Asia – Vietnam Upholds Dissident Jail Terms – 27 February 2008

VietNamNet – Court Reject Saboteurs’ Appeal of Sentence Cut – 26 February 2008

Vietnamese Court Upholds Dissidents’ Jail Sentences

By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer,
Asia

HANOI, Vietnam – A Vietnamese appeals court upheld the sentences of four dissidents who were sentenced in 2007 for “spreading distorted information to undermine the state.” Judge Nguyen Xuan Phat of the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ho Chi Minh City refused to reduce the sentences of Tran Thi Le Hong, Phung Quang Quyen, Doan Van Dien, and his son Doan Huy Chuong. According to Ho Thi Thuong, wife of Doan Vien Dien and mother of Doan Huy Chuong, the court refused because in giving interviews with Radio Free Asia, the four committing very serious crimes because they had defamed the government and many people had listened. The four have jail terms ranging from 18 months to 4 ½ years.

The Vietnamese government accused the four of collecting complaints of land-rights violations and giving the information to Radio Free Asia and other news organizations. The four are also accused of distributing anti-government leaflets prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The four are affiliated with the United Workers-Farmers Organization [UWFO]. UWFO campaigns for the right to form independent labor unions and defends farmers whose land has been confiscated

Vietnam news organizations have reported that the four have deliberated tried to sabotage Vietnam with lies. According the Vietnam news organizations, the four men have collected information regarding land-rights in the country and changed their contents before distributing them and uploaded the information on anti-Vietnam websites. Doan Van Dien is also accused of asking his son Doan Huy Chuong to give phone interviews to Radio Free Asia and Hoa Mai Club Radio disguised as a worker taking part in the labor strikes. Vietnam news organizations allege that Doan Huy Chuong distorted facts and falsely accused the state of repressing workers and arresting demonstrators.

For more information, please see:

Earthtimes – Vietnamese Dissidents’ Sentences Upheld – 26 February 2008

Radio Free Asia – Vietnam Upholds Dissident Jail Terms – 27 February 2008

VietNamNet – Court Reject Saboteurs’ Appeal of Sentence Cut – 26 February 2008

Vietnamese Court Upholds Dissidents’ Jail Sentences

By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer,
Asia

HANOI, Vietnam – A Vietnamese appeals court upheld the sentences of four dissidents who were sentenced in 2007 for “spreading distorted information to undermine the state.” Judge Nguyen Xuan Phat of the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ho Chi Minh City refused to reduce the sentences of Tran Thi Le Hong, Phung Quang Quyen, Doan Van Dien, and his son Doan Huy Chuong. According to Ho Thi Thuong, wife of Doan Vien Dien and mother of Doan Huy Chuong, the court refused because in giving interviews with Radio Free Asia, the four committing very serious crimes because they had defamed the government and many people had listened. The four have jail terms ranging from 18 months to 4 ½ years.

The Vietnamese government accused the four of collecting complaints of land-rights violations and giving the information to Radio Free Asia and other news organizations. The four are also accused of distributing anti-government leaflets prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The four are affiliated with the United Workers-Farmers Organization [UWFO]. UWFO campaigns for the right to form independent labor unions and defends farmers whose land has been confiscated

Vietnam news organizations have reported that the four have deliberated tried to sabotage Vietnam with lies. According the Vietnam news organizations, the four men have collected information regarding land-rights in the country and changed their contents before distributing them and uploaded the information on anti-Vietnam websites. Doan Van Dien is also accused of asking his son Doan Huy Chuong to give phone interviews to Radio Free Asia and Hoa Mai Club Radio disguised as a worker taking part in the labor strikes. Vietnam news organizations allege that Doan Huy Chuong distorted facts and falsely accused the state of repressing workers and arresting demonstrators.

For more information, please see:

Earthtimes – Vietnamese Dissidents’ Sentences Upheld – 26 February 2008

Radio Free Asia – Vietnam Upholds Dissident Jail Terms – 27 February 2008

VietNamNet – Court Reject Saboteurs’ Appeal of Sentence Cut – 26 February 2008

Media Crackdown Follows Violent Protests in Cameroon

By:  M. Brandon Maggiore
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Africa

YAOUNDE, Cameroon – At least 17 people have been killed in protests in Cameroon in which youths are fighting with police. The opposition says the unrest is due to the rising costs of fuel and food while the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya, accused his political rivals of creating the unrest in order to depose him. The violence started as a nationwide transport strike because of fuel costs and turned into anti-government demonstrations. Preisdent Biya has been in power for twenty-five years and has suggested amending the constitution of Cameroon so that he can run for president again in 2011, another source of anger amongst the protesters.

Biya says he will use all legal means to end the violence in which boarding schools have been targeted by mobs of young men demanding they join the protesters. The boarding schools may have been targeted by the youths because the children of the Cameroonian elite are students there. Teachers managed to prevent the taking of most of the students except for about two-hundred. There is fear that the students were taken to be used as human shields. Some children are still unaccounted for after most returned to their homes or boarding schools within several hours. However, it is believed that a teenage boy was shot dead in Bamenda.

The main journalist’s union in Cameroon accused the government of trying to silence media coverage of the riots. A privately owned radio station in Yaounde was shut down by armed law enforcement on Thursday after callers to the radio station criticized the President’s handling of the protests. This shutdown followed the shutdown of a radio station in Biya on Tuesday. Reporters Without Borders has also expressed its concern over the media crackdown in Cameroon and has called on the government to return all equipment removed from the radio station in Yaounde and to permit it to resume broadcasting.

Cameroonian writers, both from inside Cameroon and abroad, signed a letter sent to deputies in the government urging them not to modify the country’s constitution. The letter used strong language stating a “single foul play with the constitution could plunge the entire nation into insurmountable chaos.” The letter also criticized members of parliament saying “The President has availed himself of the de facto majority accorded him in the national assembly by you, CPDM parliamentarians, to trample on the constitution of this land. Worse still, he has had recourse to armed elements of the police force to silence those dissenting voices that have dared to openly object to his scheme.”

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Deadly violence rages in Cameroon – 29 February 2008

Reuters – Cameroon govt accused of muzzling media over riots – 29 February 2008

afrol News – Cameroon writers warn MPs – 29 February 2008

Reporters Without Borders – Private radio suspended, independent newspapers prevented from appearing – 29 February 2008

Amnesty International Calls for Iran to End Gender Discrimination

By Ben Turner
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

LONDON, England – In a new report, Amnesty International claims that Iran continues to harass activists working to promote women’s rights.

Kurdish Iranian activists Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi are currently detained without charge or trial and denied access to a lawyer.

According to the report, the two activists were arrested in October and November 2007 for peacefully exercising their rights.  Both were working for the Campaign for Equality, an Iranian women’s rights initiative launched in 2006.

Currently, the Campaign for Equality is attempting to gather one million Iranian national signatures for a petition demanding the end of legal gender discrimination in Iran.  The Campaign for Equality also provides legal training to volunteers who talk to women across the country about the need for reform.

The Amnesty International report said that those involved with the Campaign have been harassed and intimidated.  Dozens of women who worked with the Campaign have been arrested and the organization’s website has been blocked at least seven times.

There are several Iranian laws that discriminate against women.  According to Ann Harrison, a spokeswoman for Amnesty, women are discriminated against in the civil code and in areas of marriage and divorce.  For example, women can be married at the age of 13 or younger if the girl’s parents apply to a court.

According to Harrison, a woman’s weight of testimony in an Iranian court is worth half that of a man’s.  In addition, women are likely to receive half the amount of compensation for injuries that a man receives.  Also, women are excluded from serving in the most senior positions in the government and as judges.

The recent backlash against women’s rights may be in response to an increase in women attending the country’s higher education institutions.  Women currently outnumber men at universities and the disparity is greater at medical schools.

Recently, Iran imposed a new law instituting a gender quota for university classes.  The quota requires each class to consist of at least 30 percent men and 30 percent women, while the remainder of the spots will be determined competitively.

According to a Pakistani news organization, the Daily Times, the quota was put in place in part to prevent women from dominating the medical profession.  The quota will increase the amount of women in some fields, such as mathematics and engineering, where there are fewer female students.  But the quota will also reduce the amount of women in the medical profession.

For more information, please see: Amnesty International – Women Act Against Repression and Intimidation in Iran – 28 February 2008

Amnesty International – Iran: Persecution of Women’s Rights Campaigners Rife – New Report – 28 February 2008

BBC – Iran ‘Targeting’ Women Activists – 28 February 2008

VOA – Amnesty International Calls for Iran to End Gender Discrimination – 28 February 2008

FOX Business News – Iran Continues to Intimidate and Harass Women Human Rights Defenders According to Amnesty International – 27 February 2008

Daily Times – Iran Plans University Quotas Based on Gender – 26 February 2008

Campaign for Equality’s website: http://www.we4change.info/english/spip.php?article144