A Brief Report On Three Vietnamese Scientist Dissidents

Before The Annual Meeting Of The Committee

On Human Rights Of The National Academies On May 4th, 2005

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Members of the Committee:

Once again, it is my pleasure and my honor to be here today. I am grateful for the opportunity to update you on the situation of three Vietnamese Scientist dissidents whose cases were adopted by this distinguished committee: My brother, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Dr. Pham Hong Son, and Professor Nguyen Thanh Giang.

Please allow me to start my report by presenting the case of Dr. Que, because I would like to bring you some good news first. Thanks to the intense intervention of the international community in which this distinguished Committee on Human Rights has played a leading role, Dr. Que was released from jail on Jan 30, 2005 on the occasion of the “general amnesty” of the Lunar New Year. It took him 2 days traveling by train without basic necessities to arrive home on — Feb. 2, and he was totally exhausted. He told me that he was very sick and tired from being jailed the last 4 months in Thanh Hoa, which is near the mountains where the weather is very cold at night and he was not provided with enough clothes. After a few weeks rest at home, his health has improved considerably. I just talked to him 4 days ago and he told me for the first time since his release that he has completely recovered.

The bad news is that even though Dr. Que was released from jail, he is not a free man. He is not allowed to use the internet, computer, or fax. While others are able to have regular phones with cords, he is only given a cordless phone so that he cannot use the line for computer or internet usage. The Vietnamese authorities censor his mail and harass people who call or come to visit him.

Three months have passed since his release. Dr. Que has not received his diplomas, his new identity card and his name has not legally put on the list of households. Despite all that, the Vietnamese authorities failed to break his determination. On March 26 he managed to give an interview to the VOA television on the line, in that he firmly said that Vietnam has no freedom of information, freedom of expression, or freedom of religion and he also outlined a 9 point road map to democracy in Vietnam. The Vietnamese authorities are angered with his interview and they put a tighter control on him. The number of plain clothe officers guarding in front of his house has increased from 2 to 10 people 24 hours around the clock. On April 6 the President of AFL-CIO sent a letter to President of Vietnam demanding the full reinstatement of Dr. Que’s civil rights and political rights. I sincerely hope that this distinguished Committee will similarly insist on the freedom of Dr. Que.

And now I would like to report on the case of Dr. Pham Hong Son. His case is relatively new to some members of the Committee so I would like to make a brief summary about this brave doctor: Dr. Son was born on 11- 3- 1968 and graduated as medical doctor from Hanoi Medical School in 1992. He practiced medicine from 1992 to 1996. In 1997 after graduation MBA of the Franco Vietnamese Administrative School he quit practicing medicine and started to work first as head of Hanoi Bureau for Alcon Pharmaceutical Company and then as director of the sales department for Trade Wind Asia Pharmaceuticals until his arrest. He was arrested at his residence on March 27, 2002. A few weeks after he translated into Vietnamese an article: “What is democracy” from the website of the US Embassy in Hanoi and he gave his translation to several of his friends as well as to some high ranking members of the Vietnamese Communist Party. In June 2003, 13 months after his arrest, he was brought to trial and the People’s court in Hanoi charged him with the crime of “espionage” which violates article 80 of the penal code and he was sentenced to 13 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of house arrest. Under the intense protest of the international community, especially by Amnesty International, the Vietnamese authorities retried his case on August 26, 2003 and reduced his sentence to 5 years.

Dr. Son is currently being jailed at Prison No 5, camp 3, Yen Giang Village, Yen Dinh District, Thanh Hoa Province in Central Vietnam. Under harsh prison conditions, Dr. Son has been suffering from inguinal hernia and in addition he has a tumor in his nose. Dr. Son’s family has requested a medical examination to determine the need for operation but the prison Management Department and the Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security have not indicated any willingness to address the issue.

Dr. Son is married to Mrs. Vu Thuy Ha and they have two children (Pham Vu Anh Quan born in 1997 and Pham Vu Duy Tan born in 1999). An intense campaign lead by this distinguished committee for the release of Dr. Son will be greatly appreciated by his family and all Vietnamese who love freedom and democracy.

Lastly, I would like to report to you the incident that happened to Professor Nguyen Thanh Giang last month. According to Professor Giang, close to the anniversary of 30 years of the fall of the South, Prof. Giang wrote an article which questioned the benefit to either side of the Vietnam War. His statement was distorted by the authorities and by people who don’t like him. They claimed that Professor Giang said that Vietnam’s role in the war is meaningless. A series of articles in the official publications like bao Cong An (Public Security magazine), bao Phap Luat (Laws magazines) denounced Professor Giang and threatened to get rid of him. Furthermore, the authorities also used invalids and veterans to come to his house on April 4, 2005 to denounce his statement and to threaten to kill him.

Professor Giang has made complaints to the Security Office in Hanoi but he has not received any reply or protection from them.

Dr. Giang also complains that he got an invitation from the French National Assembly to attend a world conference on Vietnam 30 years after the war but the Vietnamese authorities refused to allow him to go. I urge the committee to investigate the harassment of Professor Giang and to ensure that proper measures are taken to protect his life.

This completes my report, and I would be willing to answer any questions that you might have.

Thank you.

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