By Karen Diep
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
HANOI, Vietnam – Yesterday, two Vietnamese songwriters underwent a 5-hour trial at Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Court for their alleged anti-government songs violating Article 88 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code. Tran Vu Anh Binh, facing six years in prison, and Vo Minh Tri, facing four years instead, were detained in late 2011.
Vo Minh Tri’s song lyrics purportedly condemned a police intervention and suppression of anti-China activists. The lyrics further addressed other social justice issues.
Meanwhile, other singers have performed Tran Vu Anh Binh’s songs, including one of which criticizing the government for arresting insurgents.
According to the Global Post, the two produced two songs, “Anh La Ai?” (“Who are You?”) and “NuocToi Dau?” (“Where is My Country?”). Furthermore, the lyrics of “Where is My Country?” include the following lyrics: Where is your nationalism?; Why consciously take orders from China?; You will leave a mark to last a thousand years; Your hands will be stained with the blood of our people.”
E News Park Forest reported that yesterday Amnesty International stated that the songwriters “should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
“This is a ludicrous way to treat people just for writing songs,” said Amnesty’s researcher in Vietnam, Rupert Abbott. “These men are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression through their songs and non-violent activities, and should be freed.”
Weeks prior to Tran Vu Anh Binh and Vo Minh Tri’s prison sentences, three Vietnamese bloggers were accused of disseminating anti-government propaganda and subsequently jailed for four to 12 years.
“There is a very disturbing trend of repression against those who peacefully voice opinions the Vietnamese authorities do not like,” continued Mr. Abbott.
On October 14th, the police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested university student Nguyen Phuong Uyen and three other students. Nguyen Phuong Uyen allegedly participated in the circulation of leaflets censuring China and the Vietnam over their territorial dispute. Although the others were released, Nguyen Phuong Uyen remains detained.
“Rather than trying to silence the young people of Viet Nam, the Vietnamese authorities should allow them to express their opinions and have a say in the development and direction of their country,” shared Mr. Abbott.
According to BBC’s South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, Vietnam’s Communist Party is currently experiencing factional splits over mismanagement, fraud, and unstable economy. Therefore, it is not welcoming to criticism.
For further information, please see:
Bangkok Post – Vietnam jails songwriters – 30 Oct. 2012
BBC – Vietnam jails two dissident songwriters – 30 Oct. 2012
Global Post – Viet Khang and Tran Vu Anh Binh, musicians, jailed in Vietnam for anti-government songs – 30 Oct. 2012
E News Park Forest – Viet Nam: Acquit Songwriters Who Face 20 Years In Jail – 29 Oct. 2012