Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn
|Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn|
|Born||January 10, 1985 (age 33)|
|Occupation||beautician, photojournalist, activist|
|Known for||Democracy activism, 2011 Arrest, 2013 Conviction|
Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn (born January 10, 1985) is a trained beautician and human rights activist. Seeing the social inequities in Vietnam, she became a freelance photojournalist and posted photographs online as an alternative news source to state-controlled media.
In 2010, at 25 years old, she participated in the movement against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea Dispute. She captured images of the slogan “HS.TS.VN” that were posted throughout Vietnam to assert Vietnam’s claims over the islands of Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) and Truong Sa (Spratly Islands).
On July 31, 2011, Vietnamese authorities arbitrarily detained Minh Mẫn along with her mother (Đặng Ngọc Minh) and brother (Nguyễn Đặng Vĩnh Phúc). During a two-day trial of 14 Vietnamese activists in January 2013, Minh Mẫn received one of the longer sentences, 8 years in prison and 5 years house arrest.
She is currently imprisoned at Prison Camp 5, Yen Dinh, Thanh Hoa.
As part of a massive crackdown on Vietnamese youth activists in 2011, Vietnamese authorities on July 31 arrested Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn, along with her mother, Đặng Ngọc Minh, and her brother, Nguyễn Đặng Vĩnh Phúc. The Vietnamese authorities had no warrant for the arrest and confiscated Minh Mẫn’s camera and other photojournalistic materials.
Minh Mẫn and her family were in arbitrary detention for over 17 months before going to trial.
On January 8–9, 2013, the People’s Court of Nghệ An Province held a trial to convict 14 Vietnamese democracy activists, including Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn. All of them were sentenced between 3–13 years in prison on charges of subversion under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.
Minh Mẫn and her mother were accused of painting the slogan “HS.TS.VN,” which represents Vietnam’s claims to the Paracel and Spratly islands. The Vietnamese government actually agrees with the slogan of the islands belonging to Vietnam, but have a greater fear of public protest getting out of hand.
Along with the other activists on trial, Minh Mẫn was also accused of participating in Việt Tân, a US-based pro-democracy organization to establish democracy and reform Vietnam through peaceful and political means.
Minh Mẫn was initially sentenced to 9 years in prison, but it was later amended to 8 years in prison and 5 years house arrest. She is one of three activists from this trial still arbitrarily detained.
Treatment in Prison
Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn is subject to unfair and discriminatory treatment in prison. Amnesty International reported in 2013 that Vietnamese prisoners of conscience “are held in harsh conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Minh Mẫn is forced to do physical labor, and is socially isolated since officers threaten other prisoners from being friends with political prisoners.
In November 2014, Minh Mẫn was put in near-solitary confinement without clear reasons. Soon after, Minh Mẫn launched repeated hunger strikes to raise awareness about ill-treatment towards prisoners of conscience, weighing 35 kg, or about 77 pounds, after her protest.
Her father Nguyễn Văn Lợi attempts to visit her at least once a month, but he must travel 40 hours to get to the prison camp, sometimes being turned away because prison guards put Minh Mẫn in solitary confinement. Unlike other prisoners of conscience who could speak freely with their guests, Minh Mẫn and her father are separated by glass with guards surrounding them.
On November 28, 2013, the UNWGAD had ruled in favor of activists convicted during the same time with Minh Mẫn, stating that Vietnam violated its international human rights obligations and must “immediate[ly] release” the prisoners of conscience.
A year later, while Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn faced near-solitary confinement and went on hunger strike against prison abuse, students of the Freedom of Expression Law Clinic submitted a petition in November 2014 on Minh Mẫn’s behalf to the UN Working Group On Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD). This petition raises awareness about the Vietnamese government’s violation of its international commitments to human rights.
On June 11, 2015, her father Nguyễn Văn Lợi spoke at the Vietnamese Congressional Caucus in the US Capitol Building to raise awareness about the struggles his daughter and other prisoners of conscience must endure while in prison. He explains, "[The prison guards] feed her rice with salt, only give her 1 liter of drinking water a day, not allowing her any water for hygienic reasons, and do not give her a sleeping net. She is only given only one change of clothing for about 15 to 20 days in a month.".
On International Human Rights Day in 2015, a social media and letter writing campaign called #BarsForBlogging was launched to raise awareness about the remaining three prisoners of conscience from the 2013 trial: Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn, Đặng Xuân Diệu, and Hồ Đức Hoà.
- 2011 crackdown on Vietnamese youth activists
- 2013 conviction of 14 Vietnamese dissidents
- Human rights in Vietnam
- Hồ Đức Hoà
- Đặng Xuân Diệu
- "Jailed Female Photo Journalist on Hunger Strike in Vietnam". Advox Global Voices. 11 December 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- Sifton, John (June 24, 2015). "It's Time for the Obama Administration to Get Tough on Human Rights in Vietnam". The Diplomat. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- "Petition to United Nations Working Group On Arbitrary Detention in the matter of Nguyen Dang Minh Man v. Government of Socialist Republic of Vietnam" (PDF). Media Legal Defence Initiative. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- "Vietnam: Release Convicted Activists - Drop Charges Against Blogger Le Quoc Quan". Human Rights Watch. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- Paul Carston (9 January 2013). "Vietnam jails 13 for subversion under "draconian" charges". Reuters. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- "Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs" (PDF). 2008-03-12. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- Alistair Coe (2009-11-12). "Alistair commends Vietnam pro-democracy movement". Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- Nguyen, Trinh (28 May 2015). "Testimony: Subcommittee on International Human Rights Committee on May 28, 2015". Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- "Viet Nam: Silenced Voices: Prisoners of Conscience in Viet Nam". Amnesty International. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- "Vietnamese Photojournalist Continues Hunger Strike After Four Years Behind Bars". Global Voices. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- "UN WORKING GROUP RULES FAVORABLY ON PETITION FILED BY SLS' ALLEN WEINER, CONDEMNS TREATMENT OF 16 VIETNAMESE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ACTIVISTS". Stanford Law School. Stanford Law School.
- "Free Expression Law Clinic petitions UN". Media Legal Defence Initiative. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- Nguyen, Van Loi (11 June 2015). "Advocating for my daughter Nguyen Dang Minh Man". Viet Tan. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- "#BarsForBlogging". Bars For Blogging. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2016.