Bowing to Chinese pressure, Vietnam places Falun Gong radio broadcasters on trial
Freedom House (05.10.2011) / Two Vietnamese Falun Gong members will go on trial this week for broadcasting news on human rights abuses, protests, official corruption, and the persecution of Falun Gong members in China. Vu Duc Trung and his brother in-law Le Van Thanh were arrested by Vietnamese authorities in June of 2010 and their broadcasting equipment was confiscated for downloading and broadcasting programs into China from the Chinese-language version of « Sound of Hope » (SOH), a global radio station associated with the Falun Gong. If convicted, Trung and Thanh could face up to 5 years in prison.
The June 2010 indictment clearly states that the basis for Trung and Thanh’s arrest was a memo received by the Vietnamese government from Chinese officials requesting Falun Gong members in Vietnam be charged for « illegal activities ». While Falun Gong is legal in Vietnam, it was banned in China in 1999. Trung and Thanh’s arrest is one more example of China exerting pressure on its neighbors to crackdown on religious groups believed to be a threat to the Chinese government. On September 8, Gatot Machali, the manager of Indonesian station Radio Era Baru, which also broadcasts SOH programming, was sentenced to six months in prison. It is widely believed that Machali’s prosecution was the result of Chinese pressure on Indonesia.
Freedom House condemns China’s use of diplomatic pressure to engage in further crackdowns on religious minorities and to restrict freedom of expression outside of its borders. Freedom House further calls upon the Vietnamese government to release Trung and Thanh and to drop these charges immediately.