German congressman pledges to support Vietnamese prisoner of conscience Hoang Binh until he is freed

Vietnamese environmental activist Hoang Duc Binh  at a trial in 2018

MP Julian Pahlke of the German Federal Assembly in a recent interview affirmed that “environmental protection is not a crime” and pledges to support a Vietnamese dissident until he is freed.

In January 2022, Congressman Julian Pahlke, from the Alliance 90/Green Party, announced his sponsorship of Hoang Duc Binh (also known as Hoang Binh), who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for reporting on the environmental disaster caused by Hung Nghiep Formosa Steel Factory in Vietnam’s central coast in 2016.

The interview with this MP posted on the website of the German Federal Parliament on July 27 was translated into Vietnamese by VETO! Human Rights Defenders Network.

Accordingly, Mr. Julian Pahlke said he wrote to the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany and asked the Vietnamese government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Binh, as well as respect the United Nations on the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela rules).

He called on Vietnam to implement its commitments to human rights, including respect for the rights to freedom of expression and assembly as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

By accepting the sponsorship of activist Hoang Duc Binh, Congressman Julian Pahlke said he will support him until this prisoner of conscience is released and his honor is restored.

Pahlke is the second German MP pledging to support Hoang Duc Binh. During the previous parliamentary term, Mrs. Margarete Bause of the Alliance 90/Green Party included the Vietnamese environmentalist in the sponsorship program.

The program to sponsor prisoners of conscience is an extension of the program “Representatives sponsor congressmen.” Talking about this program, a former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Dai, who was sponsored by a German congresswoman and is currently living in exile in this country, told Radio Free Asia:

The sponsorship of human rights or environmental activists around the world is a new thing for the German Parliament. Previously, the German Parliament passed a resolution to protect their colleagues who are MPs or senators in authoritarian countries – the program MPs protect MPs.

In 2017, organize VETO! lobbied the German parliament to protect not only MPs but also political and human rights activists in other countries.”

Mr. Dai, the co-founder of the Brotherhood for Democracy and currently the organization’s president, said that many Vietnamese activists have been and are being sponsored by the program, including himself, Mr. Nguyen Bac. Truyen, Mrs. Do Thi Minh Hanh, and Hoang Duc Binh.

Talking about the effectiveness of sponsoring prisoners of conscience, Mr. Dai, who is sponsored by Congresswoman Marie-Luise Dott, said: “I personally see its effectiveness immediately when the security investigators do it. When it comes to working with me, they must be so frustrated they ask me ‘What kind of relationship do you have with Germany that they put so much pressure on us?‘”

As a full member of the European Commissions, the Home, and Home Affairs Committees, and an alternate member of the German Federal Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, MP Pahlke said that in his case Hoang Duc Binh, the entire proceedings, from indictment to sentencing and conditions of detention violated United Nations conventions.

For him, “Protecting the environment is not a crime” and although the environmental disaster in Vietnam is far away from Germany, “everything is related and has mutual responsibilities. Neither the climate crisis nor the environmental problems are confined to national borders.”

Not only demanding that Vietnam unconditionally release Mr. Binh, but Congressman Pahlke also prioritized paying attention to improving detention conditions.

According to him, Mr. Binh and many other prisoners of conscience in Vietnam are being held in places far from his family in extremely harsh living conditions.

He criticized the Vietnamese government’s use of all means to suppress dissidents and human rights defenders, as well as treat them inhumanely while keeping them imprisoned.

The German congressman explained his adoption of activist Hoang Duc Binh on a broader scale, that is, “If we want to change climate and environmental issues, we must support foreign activists who fight for that worldwide and need to support the development of a civil society in every country.”

Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai said that receiving a sponsorship is only the first step in the process of fighting for the freedom of the sponsored person, and the effectiveness of this requires many factors, in which the person’s advocacy sponsorship plays an important role.

He said the sponsor should take advantage of every opportunity to urge German state agencies to put pressure on Vietnam along with directly raising this issue in all contacts with Vietnamese representatives.

In addition to the German congressman, many congressmen and senators in the United States have also been sponsoring Vietnamese activists, such as the case of Congressman Alan Lowenthal who sponsored lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, Nguyen Tien Trung, and journalist of Radio Free Asia Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa, Senator Ben Cardin sponsored Mr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, and most recently, Congressman Ro Khanna adopted human rights activist, journalist Pham Doan Trang. (Translated)

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