Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bloc 8406 protests Fr. Ly trial

The major dissident group Bloc 8406 issued a statement last week protesting the March 30 trial of Fr. Nguyen Van Ly and his four co-defendants. Here is part of what they said:

"Whereas, this is a unlawful case, based on: (a) the very short preparation time of 5 weeks; (b) the offices of the investigative police and the state-controlled mass media already having convicted these defendants even before the trial; (c) many techniques used to persecute
defendants physically and mentally to force confessions such as absolute isolation, all-night interrogation, prohibition of any legal consultation; (d) additional detention as punishment (in the case of Father Nguyen Van Ly) in which his house arrest was even harsher than imprisonment; (e) the pre-determined conviction of the crime of 'propagandizing against the state' - a make-believe, strange crime that can not be found in any penal code of any democrati country or any recorded law of a civilized world.

"Whereas, the March 30th, 2007 trial is barbaric, lawless, and inhumane based on these following characteristics: (a) the trial was not open to the public as stated: a few diplomats and international reporters were allowed to be inside the courtroom only during the opening statement and the verdict, but throughout the trial, they were taken to an isolated room to view the trial through a closed-circuit television; the families of the defendants and representatives from the religious authorities were not permitted to be present, there were no defense attorneys, and the defendants' right to self-representation was denied as well; (b) Father Nguyen Van Ly and Mr. Nguyen Phong were handcuffed like criminals when entering the courtroom and Father Ly was kept handcuffed throughout the trial; (c) the defendants were only allowed to say only "yes" or "no", if they attempted to say anything other than that, they were pulled away by the policeman standing behind the dock, and especially, Father Nguyen Van Ly was smothered and dragged forcibly from the courtroom three times; (d) the trial lasted four swift hours and resulted in an eight page long conviction written after only 20 minutes of deliberation (!?!), meaning the conviction was clearly pre-determined, the trial being just a formal display to legitimize that verdict; (e) the sentences are very harsh and brutal, especially in the cases of Father Nguyen Van Ly and the two members of the Vietnam Progression Party (VNPP), Mr. Nguyen Phong and Mr. Nguyen Binh Thanh, sentences that aghast human conscience; (f) the trial is based on unconstitutional laws invented to criminalize any political activities that are reasonable, peaceful and in accordance with the human rights but threaten the power of the Communist Party; (g) the purpose is to quickly kill Bloc 8406 before its one year anniversary, dissolve VNPP and the newly founded Lac Hong Coalition, stop the movement to boycott the national assembly on May 20th, 2007 and with the future goal to smother anyone who peacefully advocates for human rights and civil rights as recognized by International Covenants and the Vietnamese Constitution, for their determination to dissolve the Communist regime..."

At our library here at U.C. Berkeley is a bilingual edition of the 1996 Vietnam Criminal Procedure Code. I don't know to what extent it might have been revised in recent years, but in a quick glance through it, I notice it says it says defendants have the right to be represented by a defense attorney, which did not happen here (Article 36 and 37). Article 159 says the court is to define the facts of the case by asking and listening to statements given by the accused, injured person, witnesses, etc., yet in this trial, according to the statement below, the defendants were allowed to say very little other than "yes" or "no".

Source: Text of Bloc 8406 statement published at VietAmReview, April 9.


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