NEW YORK—Vu Duc Trung, a 30-year-old tech executive, and Le Van Thanh, his 35-year-old brother-in-law, are due to stand trial in Hanoi on Thursday for airing shortwave radio broadcasts from Vietnam into China. The two downloaded Chinese-language programs from the Sound of Hope Radio (SOH) network about human rights abuses, official corruption, protests, and the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
On Tuesday, New York Falun Gong practitioners gathered across from the Vietnamese Consulate General on United Nations Plaza to support the two men. They were protesting the prosecution, saying it was a result of pressure on Vietnam by the Chinese regime.
“Please do NOT follow the instructions of the Chinese government and sentence innocent Vietnamese citizens to jail for their courageous deeds,” said a letter the practitioners delivered to the Consulate General in New York.
The Chinese regime takes strict measures to control all information that reaches the Chinese people. On May 30, 2010, the Chinese Embassy sent a memo to various Vietnamese government departments demanding the broadcasts stop and those responsible be charged. Trung and Thanh were arrested just three weeks later and have been held in jail ever since—for more than 15 months.
“What Mr. Trung and Mr. Thanh did wasn’t for themselves,” the letter explains. “They did it all because they want to save other people’s lives. They did NOTHING that hurts Vietnam or the Vietnamese government.”
It concludes, “These people are very respectable citizens of Vietnam who are courageous and put other people’s interests above their own. They do not belong in jail and should not be tried.”
Trung and Thanh had been scheduled for trial originally on April 8; however, the trial was postponed. The protesters say this was due to international pressure, as Reporters Without Borders and other press freedom and human rights groups publicized the case.
“We want to show the Vietnamese government that these two Falun Gong practitioners have freedom of speech, and that we will pay close attention to this incident,” Chen Yue, deputy director of the New York SOH branch, said on Tuesday.
New York Falun Gong practitioner representative Sun Zhenyu said, “We call on the Vietnamese government to comply with the international covenant and safeguard humankind’s freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and not to yield to the CCP’s pressure and become its thugs. The Vietnamese government must unconditionally release these two Falun Gong practitioners immediately.”
Protests have also been held in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and Australia.