June 27, 2014
For Immediate Release
+1 (202) 223-3733
Washington, D.C.: Freedom Now is pleased to announce that the Vietnamese labor rights activist Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh has been released from prison almost three years before the end of her seven-year sentence. Her early release yesterday occurred after considerable international attention to her case and a coordinated effort by international and Vietnamese human rights groups. However, while Ms. Do has been freed, her colleagues Mr. Doan Huy Chuong and Mr. Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung remain in prison.
“We are relieved to know that Ms. Do is no longer being detained—but the international community must not forget her colleagues, and the many other Vietnamese citizens, who remain imprisoned in clear violation of international law,” said Freedom Now’s director Maran Turner. “While the exact terms of Ms. Do’s release have not yet been made available, we expect the government to lift any and all restrictions on her liberty.” Greg McGillivary, a partner with the law firm Woodley & McGillivary, added that “Ms. Do spent four years in a Vietnamese prison for organizing garment workers. The government must allow workers and advocates to organize and it must stop violating fundamental international labor rights.”
Ms. Do, Mr. Doan, and Mr. Nguyen were arrested in February 2010 after the trio attempted to organize striking workers at a shoe factory and circulated a list of the workers’ demands. Authorities held the activists for six months before eventually charging them under Vietnam’s controversial national security laws. Just ten days after being charged, the trio were tried—without the assistance of legal counsel and without the right to speak in their own defense—and sentenced to between seven and nine years in prison. The activists have been repeatedly beaten, subjected to solitary confinement, and suffered from ill-health as a result of the mistreatment and poor prison conditions.
In Opinion No. 42/2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an independent panel of five experts, found that the imprisonment of Ms. Do, Mr. Doan, and Mr. Nguyen violated Vietnam’s obligations under international law and called for their release. Despite this finding, Mr. Doan and Mr. Nguyen continue to face years of additional imprisonment.
Freedom Now and Woodley & McGillivary jointly serve as international pro bono counsel to Ms. Do, Mr. Doan, and Mr. Nguyen and will continue to work on the case until all three activists are released from prison.