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19 April 2018

His Excellency Nguyễn Xuân Phúc Prime Minister Socialist Republic of Vietnam Hanoi, Vietnam

Re: calling on the government of Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release Nguyen Van Dai and other prisoners of conscience

Dear Prime Minister, The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) is a collaborative effort of Christian organisations in over 20 countries which supports and advocates for religious freedom for all. We are writing to express our deep concern about the sentencing on 5 April of Christian human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and five other defendants, including Protestant pastor and activist Nguyen Trung Ton and legal expert Nguyen Bac Truyen. It is our understanding that the six defendants were tried on 5 April and have been sentenced to between 7 and 15 years in prison for ‘carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the government’ under Article 79 of the Vietnamese penal code. Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai received the longest sentence of 15 years in prison and a further five years under house arrest. We believe that the charges against Mr Dai are false and that he is being targeted because of his work defending Christians and other victims of human rights violations. Nguyen Van Dai has provided legal advice and representation to victims of human rights abuses – including religious minorities – across Vietnam. As a result of his work, Dai has been repeatedly harassed and attacked by individuals believed to be working for the authorities and served four years in prison. Shortly before his arrest in 2015, he was violently assaulted by police after attending a meeting to educate Vietnamese citizens about their rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief, as guaranteed in the Constitution. Dai and his colleague Le Thu Ha were arrested on 16 December 2015 and held without trial for over two years. Nguyen Trung Ton is a Protestant pastor who has advocated for the right to freedom of religion or belief and spoken out against social injustices. He and his family suffered years of harassment and persecution when they and their church members were repeatedly and violently attacked by local authorities and police. Hoa Hao Buddhist Nguyen Bac Truyen is a legal expert who has provided pro bono legal assistance to families of political prisoners, victims of land grabs, and persecuted religious communities. On 5 April Ton and Truyen were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years in prison respectively. All three defendants have peacefully advocated for the rights and freedoms afforded to Vietnamese citizens under Vietnamese and international law. None of them has been involved in any violent activities. The RLP joins numerous other voices in the international community in calling for their unconditional release. Specifically on the case of lawyer Nguyen Van Dai we note the following actions:

Since Nguyen Van Dai was arrested in 2015, there have been over 270 calls for his release from NGOs, CSOs, UN Special Rapporteurs, UN bodies, and parliamentarians from across the world.

In June 2017, the UN working group on Arbitrary Detention published an opinion, categorizing the imprisonment of Nguyen Van Dai as arbitrary, and calling for his immediate release. 17_26.pdf

Following the April trial, the Spokesperson of the European Union External Action Service issued a statement saying that the sentences are in direct breach of international obligations which Vietnam has itself signed up to, emphasising the EU’s commitment to the protection of human rights defenders around the world. The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a US State Department Spokesperson also issued statements of concern.

The hundreds of actions taken for Nguyen Van Dai and the other defendants demonstrate the strength of concern and attention from the international community. We call on the Vietnamese government to release immediately and unconditionally the six defendants and all those detained in connection with their peaceful defence of human rights, in line with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a party. Sincerely and respectfully yours,

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, UK 21 Wilberforce Advocates International United Family International International Christian Concern Jubilee Campaign, USA Those in Transition Christian Solidarity Worldwide, USA Set My People Free International Institute on Religious Freedom REACT Services Voice of the Martyrs, Canada

Letter concerning the sentencing of lawyer nguyen van dai  

This letter is a joint initiative by 12 members of the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP), a collaborative effort of Christian organisation...

Letter concerning the sentencing of lawyer nguyen van dai  

This letter is a joint initiative by 12 members of the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP), a collaborative effort of Christian organisation...