439 F8 Phan Van Tri St, Govap District,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Cell phone: +84 903350117
26 February, 2012
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
C/c: International Human Rights Defenders
Re.: “Any political prisoner anywhere should be released”
Dear Madam Clinton:
I am Tran Van Huynh, a 75- year old Vietnamese citizen, father of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a political prisoner who was sentenced to 16 years in prison together with Lawyer Le Cong Dinh, Master (M.Sc.) Nguyen Tien Trung, Engineer and businessman Le Thang Long and Lt Colonel Tran Anh Kim in a law case in which they were charged with “overthrowing the people’s administration” in 2010. This law case has drawn scathing condemnations from the US State Department as well as from many other governments and international human rights defenders.
First, I write this letter on behalf of my son, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, to raise his concern of the threats against the world peace to you and other international bodies. During my visits to him at the prison for the last 6 months, he repeatedly recommends me to take prompt action so that it is more likely for us to seek recognition of the international community about an effective strategy that may secure peace for the world that is increasingly being threatened by the disputes over Vietnam East Sea. Thuc had anticipated the clash many years before it came to the high tension, leading to 11 rallies of Vietnamese patriots in the middle of last year. He welcomed the “America’s Pacific Century” introduced by you and the recent modernizing America’s defense posture across the Asia Pacific. But he argued that if there is not enough necessary and focused efforts to be put in the right place and at right time so as to soon make Vietnam a democratic and prosperous country, then it will easily become a hub of conflicts that may trigger catastrophic wars in the world. So he believes that a substantially democratic Vietnam is a strategic base for the peace of the world.
You can find this idea of him from the attached article: “Obama, China and Vietnam” that he wrote 3 years ago and then it was widely diffused over the Internet and received a lot of highly appreciating comments from the public opinion. From this article I found many viewpoints that are shared and supported by President Obama. Mr. President said, for example, that “Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress” in his speech to the Australian Parliament last Nov 2011. I want him to know that there are a lot of Vietnamese trusting his good will and highly appreciate his sharp strategies for the region. Therefore the threats that Thuc has warned of are more conceivable to me then. And because of these threats, in spite of their own risks, he and his friends, Dinh, Long and Trung, have made all their efforts to impart human rights, the rule of law and self-confidence to our people. Please refer to the attached excerpts from the 2 books “Hewing Quest for Democracy and Prosperity” and “The Path of Vietnam” for part of what they tried to do for helping our people discern right and wrong.
Many Vietnamese and I now see that these threats against peace are more obvious than ever when the current economic jeopardy in Vietnam is exactly what Thuc has spared no efforts for years to warn the country against. Unfortunately, it not only was irresponsibly ignored but also led to the vague indictment of Thuc and his friends for offending against the “national security”. I was, however, more convinced by and do believe in Thuc’s concern. So do many other people, I think. It was as a consequence of the reality that made me decide to send a letter to President Obama in December last year, bringing Thuc’s concern to Mr. President’s attention for the sake of Vietnam and for the peace of the world. And it is the deteriorative state in Vietnam now that has goaded me to send this letter to you for my son, asking further consideration of you on the advocacy for universal human rights in Vietnam. I know that it is this issue that has gained both your interest and concern, and you have made it very clear to our government that “Vietnam must do more to respect and protect its citizens’ rights“. You have also confronted Vietnam on human rights during your last 2 diplomatic trips to Vietnam in 2010 and received feedback of something like “that human rights should not be imposed from outside”.
Second, that’s why I write this letter to you to raise our voice from inside, expressing our aspirations for the universal rights of every human being and our requests for protecting those inherent rights in Vietnam. We want not only freedom from want but also freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of religion and the freedom of citizens to choose their own leaders. I’m sure that those aspirations are not only of my own but also of tens of millions of Vietnamese people who are poised to voice these requests if they have freedom similar to the one that our fellow citizens in the United State have used to petition the Obama administration to force the release of all political prisoners in Vietnam since Feb 8.
And we are pleased because this is also the requests that are supported by you as you said “We believe that any political prisoner anywhere should be released. One political prisoner is one too many in our view” when you visited Myanmar in Dec last year. Please know that what a moved and fired many Vietnamese and I were with that great effort of you that led to the discharge of hundreds of political prisoners in Myanmar right after your trip.
Madam Secretary of State,
My family and I and many other Vietnamese do really hope that you can spend the same effort for our Vietnam in order to quickly have the release of all political prisoners in Vietnam as well as lifting all restrictions on the former ones here, among them Religious activists: the Elder Venerable Thich Quang Do, Rev. Nguyen Van Ly; Rights and democratic activists: entrepreneur and economist Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, lawyer Le Cong Dinh, businessman and social activist Le Thang Long, master Nguyen Tien Trung, colonel Tran Anh Kim, Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu; pro-worker activists: Mr. Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh, Mr. Doan Huy Chuong; patriotic song composer Viet Khang (Vo Minh Tri); patriotic demonstrators: Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien, Mr. Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) and Mrs. Bui Thi Minh Hang; anti-corruption reporter Hoang Khuong (Nguyen Van Khuong); etc. Please help our government understand that only then can our country overcome the current crisis thanks to the reconciliation of and the response to the people’s will – the ultimate source of power and legitimacy of a government, and that it should not fear the aspirations of its own people more than the power of any other nation.
I have tried my best and exhausted myself in all my national efforts to save my son but failed to make our people’s administration understand and listen to our aspirations. As feedback I just got a blank silence even from the parliamentarians whom I have voted for. I and my family have felt so deep grief for what have been happening. I am sure that many other families, especially of the prisoners of conscience in Vietnam have the same felling. So I hope and believe that my international efforts will receive helpful supports from you and the international community so that “everybody is working by the same rules of the road” as pressed by President Obama when he spoke to China’s leader Xi Jinping on Feb 14,2012 in Washington. I do believe that only then our world can grow peacefully to a well-being for all world citizens. So do Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and his friends and almost all political prisoners in Vietnam. That’s why and what they have striven for.
Thank you very much for your consideration and I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
For myself and my son
Tran Van Huynh
P/S: Please find the enclosed attachments for some writings of Thuc and his friends as well as the article “Star locked in jail” depicting Thuc by Dr. Nguyen Thanh Giang who is a well known pro-democracy activist in Vietnam.
Vietnamese version here
The letters of similar content were also sent to other US officials, click here to see the recipient list.