To Whom It May Concern,
On behalf of the Khmer-Krom families in Soc Trang Province, we would like to urgently appeal and notify you of the unfair trials of two Khmer-Krom monks and six followers who face 10 months to 6 years for exercising their freedom of speech, opinion and association.
On the 25th of September, 2013 in Prey Chop Commune, Lai Hoa Village, Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province, four Khmer-Krom people were sentenced for up to a year for creating “Public Disorder”.
- Lam Thi Loan – Born 1957 - 1 year prison.
- Ly Thi Danh – Born 1970 - 1 year prison.
- Ly Minh Hai – Born 1978 – 11 months prison.
- Tang Phola – Born 1976 – 10 months prison
Vinh Chau, Soc Trang, 26th September 2013 – Four Khmer Krom people were trialed on 25th September 2013 have been handed a one year sentence for speaking up on behalf of Abbot Ly Chanh Da, who has fled to Thailand seeking asylum.
Accused of creating “Public disorder”, Lam Thi lon, Ly Thi Danh, Ly Minh Hai and Tang Pha Lan was simply exercising their right to speak and standing up for what they thought was right but have been instead treated as criminals.
The Khmer Krom people had no legal representation or lawyer present to represent their side of the story. Instead they were most likely to coerce into the submission of guilty plea deal as a means of getting a lighter sentence.
One year may seem like a light and fair sentence based on the fact that the accused gave “honest confession, are of ethnic Khmer with low education, limited legal awareness”* but in actually fact is a heavy sentence for the four accused.
One year in prison means a year of isolation and torture for “beating a drum to alert local villagers that Vietnam authorities were defrocking one of the monks at Prey Chop temple”. Instead of being called to the police station and given a warning and or fine, the individuals were arrested and imprisoned, given an unfair trial and sentenced to one year.
News from the Villagers from Prey Chop revealed sixteen others have been fined $60 for participating in the so called” Public Disorder” incident.
According to inside news from Ta Sek temple, a lawyer hired by the family of one of the accused was told via a Vietnamese police officer that the Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha refused to use the lawyer.The lawyer did not even have a chance to see or speaker directly with the accused.
It is yet another example of a legal system that remains unfair and discriminates against the Khmer Krom. The charge of “Public Disorder” remains a powerful tool in which Vietnam authorities use for political prosecution and silencing of dissents.
PLEASE COME BACK FOR MORE UPDATES ON TOMORROW TA SET TRIAL.
Pennsauken, 20 September 2013 – The Vietnamese authority will take Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha from Tra Set Temple, Vinh Hai Commune, Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province to face the trial in Soc Trang province on September 27, 2013. The trial will begin from 7am at: “Toà Án Nhân Dân Tỉnh Sóc Trăng (Đ/c: Số 1, Đường 30/4, Phường 2, Thành Phố Sóc Trăng, Tỉnh Sóc Trăng)”
Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha have been arrested since May 20, 2013. The Vietnamese authority just notified their family this week, giving them insignificant time to find a lawyer to represent the accused. It seems that Vietnamese government has decided to provide a trial just to sentence and punish them.
According to the summoned letters that Vietnamese authority asked the Khmer-Krom to attend the trial, it states that “Venerable Thach Thuol and his accomplices” will be trialed for the alleged crimes of: “fleeing abroad to against the Vietnamese government” and “organizing for other people to fleeing abroad”.
Since 2012, the Vietnamese authority threatened to arrest Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol for many times. Two days before they were arrested, they made video testimony appealing to the world to help protect them. The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation has included their video clip in this documentary video:
If Vietnamese authority did not try to arrest and defrock Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol, they would not leave their beloved temple. As they said in their appeal video clip, they were just Buddhist monks practicing their peaceful religion. Because they could not practice their religion in peace in their temple, they tried to escape to Cambodia but
were arrested with their two Khmer-Krom youth students: Thach Phum Rich and Thach Tha.
In this regard, we urgently would like to ask for your support to:
- Ask Vietnam to provide a transparent trial that is free and fair so they could be released because they did not commit any crimes.
- Urge Vietnam to provide Lawyers to help represent Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich and Thach Tha at the court.
- Urge Vietnam to allow Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha to defend for themselves by speaking if they don’t have lawyers.
- Urge the foreign embassies in Vietnam to send their representatives to attend the trial
Pennsauken, 24 September 2013- On behalf of the Khmer- Krom families in Prey Chop, we would like to urgently appeal and notify you of the upcoming trial of 4 Khmer-Krom people who have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned for allegedly creating “public disorder” during the incident of Venerable Ly Chanh Da’s defrocking on 16th May 2013.
Family members were notified that the following members; Lam Thi lon, Ly Thi Danh, Ly Minh Hai and Tang Pha Lan will be placed on trial on September 25th 2013 at Toà Án Nhân Dân Thị Xã Vĩnh Châu, Tỉnh Sóc Trăng.
We are concern about the lack of transparency and fairness of this trial. They were given insignificant time to find a lawyer and the accused have been found guilty even before the trial even happened.
The four victims are imprisoned because they exercised their freedom of speech and spoke up about the injustice of what the Vietnam authority was doing to Venerable Ly Chanh Da. Venerable Ly Chanh Da have fled to Thailand seeking asylum but those who stayed like the four victims will be sentenced for a crime they did not commit.
On behalf of these voiceless victims, we urgently need for your assistance to:
- Ask Vietnam to immediately release all 4 victims without trial
- Request that Vietnam provide a lawyer for the accused so that they are represented in fairness and justice.
- Remind Vietnam that freedom of speech is a right for all, not just for Vietnamese people.
- Urge all Foreign Embassies to send a representative to the trial to observe the proceedings
Since May 20, 2013, Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha from Tra Set Temple, Vinh Hai Commune, Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province have been arrested, their whereabouts are still unknown.
It has been three months already since Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha were arrested and the Vietnamese authority still does not bring them to court. It shows that the Vietnamese authority could not find any evidents to sentence them and hopefully does not torture them to confess the crimes that they do not commit.
In reality, Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol do not violate any law or Buddhist rules as they appealed before their arrested in this Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZMef1nAtGQ
As of this time, the Vietnamese authority still does not allow their family members to visit or tell their family members their whereabouts.
If Vietnam is a country that respects religious freedom and the human rights treaties that Vietnam ratified, then Vietnam must release them without any condition. Vietnam must not use torture against them. If something happens to Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, the Leaders of Vietnam must be fully responsible for it.