Vietnamese mathematician Pham Minh Hoang was arrested and accused of sedition after publishing blogs criticizing the environmental impact of bauxite extraction.
The Committee of Concerned Scientists wrote a letter to the government of Vietnam, protesting his arrest on charges of sedition.
Read the text of the letter:
February 2, 2011
Truong Vinh Trong
Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Amnesty Advisory Council
Prime Minister’s Office
Hoang Hoa Tham
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
We are an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. We write now in concern for Professor Pham Minh Hoang.
Pham Minh Hoang, a lecturer in mathematics at Ho Chi Minh City Polytechnic Institute, under the pen name Phan Kien Quoc, wrote articles on environmental as well as other national issues. He was arrested on August 13, 2010 on charges of participating in a banned opposition political group, the Viet Tan. According to media reports, the arrest followed the interrogation two days earlier of Professor Hoang and his wife Thi Kieu Oanh, at a police station in Ho Chi Minh City, where they were questioned on their alleged affiliations with the Viet Tan, allegations Professor Hoang’s wife denies. We understand that on December 14, his family was told that he would be held for another four months for further investigation. His wife and daughter live in the atmosphere of isolation and constant pressure.
Hoang was formally charged on 20 September 20, 2010, with “activities aimed at overthrowing the government” (article 79 of the criminal code) and membership of a “terrorist organization” (the banned Viet Tan party). The maximum sentence for violating article 79 is the death penalty. Le Hoang’s wife, after two brief supervised jail visits, told Hoang’s brother in France that her husband has lost of lot of weight, and his physical health and psychological state have deteriorated a great deal. According to Fench media, Hoang has dual Vietnamese-French citizen and the French government is negotiating on his behalf.
Professor Hoang’s arrest raises concerns of retaliation against a scholar for the peaceful exercise of fundamental rights of free expression and association, which are guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is party.
We therefore join with national and international academic associations, human rights organizations and individual scholars in respectfully urging you to examine the circumstances of Professor Hoang’s detention, to ensure his well-being including immediate and regular access to legal counsel of his choosing and to any necessary medical treatment. We further urge you to arrange for his earliest release pending his trial.
Joel L. Lebowitz
Paul H. Plotz
cc: Le Hong Anh, Minister of Public Security
His Excellency Le Cong Phung , Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the USA
Madame Michèle Alliot-Marie, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères de France
The Honorable Michael W. Michalak , U.S. Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton , United States Secretary of State