On April 1, Amnesty International condemned Vietnam’s suppression of independent candidates Le Trong Hung and Tran Quoc Khanh and at the same time called on Hanoi to allow criticism in the upcoming National Assembly elections scheduled on May 23.
“The Vietnamese authorities must stop this persecution and allow everyone in Vietnam to freely exercise their human rights without fear of retaliation. The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)‘s recent new leadership election should have heralded improvements in respect for human rights in Vietnam, but signs suggest that many old violations and abuse so far remain,” said Ms. Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International Regional Deputy Director of Amnesty International, in the statement.
“While Vietnam seeks to run for the United Nations Human Rights Council, at home the authorities have blatantly and widely violated human rights,” Ms. Gil added.
On March 27, authorities in Hanoi detained Mr. Le Trong Hung under Article 117, who applied to be an independent (or “self-nominated“) candidate for the National Assembly election. Mr. Le Trong Hung is a citizen journalist and a member of Chan Hung TV, a media group that streams live on Facebook on social and political issues.
On March 10, the Ninh Binh provincial government arrested and charged Tran Quoc Khanh under Article 117. Mr. Khanh was the person who also expressed his intention to run as an independent candidate.
In an interview with VOA before his arrest, Mr. Le Trong Hung said that if elected, he would propagandize the Constitution in the schools. In addition, he also has a plan to build a project of socialization, popularizing citizens’ rights as the Constitution stipulates.
Regarding free elections, Mr. Hung said: “We are like a market economy, free politics operate like a free market economy, which means that we will have rights to compete with each other. We have a right to compete just like the companies that produce goods have the right to compete within the framework of the law to win the choice of customers.”
“The government must ensure that candidates running – along with all others in Vietnam – are treated equally and without discrimination. These are the basic principles of international human rights treaties that Vietnam has voluntarily ratified,” Ms. Gil noted.
In February 2021, Vietnam announced that it would run as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. According to the document established by the Human Rights Council, Resolution 60/251, members are elected by the member states of the United Nations at the General Assembly, and “when electing the members of the Council, the Member States must take into account candidates’ contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights.”
From Germany, Mr. Bui Thanh Hieu, on Facebook on March 27th about the arrest of Mr. Le Trong Hung and Tran Quoc Khanh by the Vietnamese government: “Arrest the candidates to represent the people because they give their views and directions for the development of the country unlike the leaders, slandering them against the state, it is called blatant suppression of people with different opinions.”
“The reason the Communist Party of Vietnam forces people to blatantly self-nominate despite such things, due to the fluctuating world politics, the West has to deal with epidemics and internal differentiation and strength and the influence of the Chinese dictator on the rise. In such an international context, the opportunity to care about Vietnamese democracy is difficult,” wrote Bui Thanh Hieu.
Mr. Hieu stated: “In addition to the third re-election of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, so-called special cases of the Party have broken all the rules and regulations on the standards of election and candidacy. Once you have blatantly violated the rules of election and voting for your benefit, it is not uncommon for others to be blatantly harmful.”