November 2, 2012

Vietnamese songwriters jailed


There were more freedom-of-speech violations this week in Vietnam.

On Tuesday two songwriters were sent to prison for a combined total of ten years for writing songs critical of the government — and this after Vietnam attracted international condemnation, earlier this year, for jailing dissident bloggers.

Tran Vu Anh Binh and Vo Minh Tri were detained late last year. Binh had written a song supporting the imprisoned Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai and encouraging peaceful protest, while Tri criticised the government for not taking a harder line against China in territory disputes. Both were sentenced after a five-hour trial.

The US State Department spokesman Mark Toner gave a statement yesterday urging the Vietnamese government to release these and all other ‘prisoners of conscience’ and to adhere to its international obligations immediately:

This is the latest in a series of detentions and convictions in Vietnam against those seeking nothing more than the peaceful expression of their views.

English PEN has launched a campaign to petition the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK for their release — and there’s no reason that that campaign can’t be replicated elsewhere.



Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.