His Excellency Sy Vuong Ha Le, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
470 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 6M8
I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.
Although CJFE celebrates the amnesty granted to writers Tran Duc Thach and Nguyen Van Tinh in recognition of Independence Day, we condemn the continued detention of many more bloggers and reporters serving unjust sentences for their writings and statements.
Vietnamese media workers still face one of the most restrictive media environments in Southeast Asia. Both Thach and Tinh were arrested for criticizing government policies and, despite their release, journalists and others who speak out about the government continue to be detained. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports that 20 bloggers and journalists are currently in jail as a result of their work. RSF also reports that nine journalists were imprisoned in the last six months alone.
In my last letter, sent on May 20, 2011, I urged the Vietnamese government to release the location of blogger Nguyen Van Hai and to reconsider his charges. His whereabouts continue to be unknown, and his family has not had access to him for over seven months. Hai and all other writers, journalists, and bloggers who remain held by authorities must not be punished for expressing positions of dissent or criticisms of the government. We join the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists in lamenting that the government did not grant amnesty to all prisoners of conscience this past Independence Day.
We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.
Arnold Amber, CJFE President
Cc: Ms. Deborah Chatsis, Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam;
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs