Protect Viet Workers, October 31, 2010
On 27th October 2010, Vietnam sentenced Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Do Thi Minh Hanh to 7, 9, and 7 years respectively, for distributing leaflets complaining about wages, for being in contact with my group, and for helping workers organise a 10,000-strong strike at the My Phong shoe factory. They had been held without charges since February 2010.
As an indication that the trial’s outcomes were pre-decided, at 5 pm the day before, 26th October, the state-run Cong An Nhan Dan actually posted an online news item announcing that “On 27 October, the court sentenced..”
At her arrest, witnesses saw police punching the petite 5-feet tall Hanh in the face, her lips dripping blood. As to Hung, it can be seen that he has lost much weight, probably not because in jail he is body-image conscious. Our information is that in jail, all three were physically and mentally abused. Chuong’s and Hanh’s families were allowed one visit each during the 8 months. Hung’s was not allowed even 1 visit.
I expect that the Vietnamese authorities will try to explain to the ITUC, if asked, that these people are not labor advocates but reactionaries trying to overthrow the regime. First, in Australia (where I live) we can overthrow our governments every few years, at elections. Second, they did not even ask for that. Their leaflets complained about poor wages and the state-run union’s silence about it.
We hope that the ITUC consider asking VGCL whether it would help release all other imprisoned labor-rights advocates (including Chuong’s father Doan Van Dien who has been jailed since 2006,), and prevent future arrests.
The AWU National Secretary, Paul Howes, told me that he might write to you, perhaps to suggest that the ITUC consider raising this issue with the Vietnamese authorities, with the VGCL, and taking steps to help prevent the independent-union movement in Vietnam from being squashed by the Vietnamese authorities so that it can proceed from its current state of oppressed infancy to grow and help promote workers’ interests.
We would add our voice to the above suggestions. Further, we seek a meeting in Brussels with each of you individually or at an ITUC meeting, to provide more information, including evidence to refute any false accusations that the Vietnamese authorities might make, such as above.
Mr. Trung Doan, Secretary
Ủy Ban Bảo Vệ Người Lao Động Việt Nam (UBBV) – Committee To Protect Vietnamese Workers (CPVW)