Stand with Bach – Letter Writing Campaign

July 1, 2024

Write letters to unjustly detained Vietnamese environmental defender Mr. Dang Dinh Bach, and to your governments to support his requests for a humanitarian visit and an end to inhumane detention conditions, as well as broader calls against the criminalization and illegal detention of environmental defenders like him: https://www.standwithbach.org/june-24-anniversary

This letter writing campaign is launched by the Vietnam Climate Defenders Coalition, a network of international and regional human rights and environmental organizations which has been supporting the campaign #StandWithBach, for the release of Bach and other unjustly detained Vietnamese environmental defenders.

June 24, 2024 marks three years since Dang Dinh Bach, a Vietnamese environmental defender and lawyer, was imprisoned by the Vietnamese government on trumped-up charges of tax evasion. 

Bach is the founder and director of the Center for Legal Studies & Policy for Sustainable Development. He has contributed significantly to Vietnam’s climate and just energy transition policies through various actions, from policy advocacy, training, to direct on-ground action with communities and more.

After leading an anti-coal campaign, Bach was arrested in July 2021, and later sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. While in detention at Prison No.6 in Nghe An province, Bach has been assaulted by policemen and threatened by inmates. He has conducted hunger strikes to protest and call attention to poor detention conditions, such as incredibly limited cell space, extreme heat, and withholding of food.

His arrest and detention has largely been met with outrage from international human rights and environmental groups as unlawful, with the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention releasing opinions of grave concern towards his case and the “systemic problem” of unlawful detainment of other Vietnamese climate activists.

Over the past five years, five other prominent environmental defenders have been arrested on anomalous grounds, similar to Bach’s case. Nguy Thi Khanh, one of Vietnam’s most highly regarded environmental advocates and the 2018 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, was detained in June 2022 due also to tax evasion charges and released early in May 2023. Other prominent environmental defenders who were arrested are Hoang Thi Minh Hong (arrested 2023), Ngo Thi To Nhien (arrested 2023), Bach Hung Duong (arrested 2021), and Mai Phan Loi (arrested 2021, released 2023). Tax evasion charges have been noted to be the strategy of the Vietnamese state to persecute critical personalities when “anti-state” allegations are not substantiated.

The Asia Pacific Network of Environmental Defenders stands in firm solidarity with Dang Dinh Bach and other unjustly detained environmental defenders, both in Vietnam and beyond. The work of environmental defenders in upholding environmental rights and advocating for better national policies must not be criminalized, but rather, recognized and supported as an invaluable part of battling the climate crisis and ensuring lasting just and sustainable development. We enjoin everyone to participate in the Vietnam Climate Defenders Coalition’s letter-writing campaign, and to demand Bach and other defenders’ immediate release, as well as accountability from the Vietnamese government and other involved parties.

#StandWithBach #FreeHong #DefendEnvironmentalDefenders

References

Mongabay.com. (2023 May 24). Early release for imprisoned climate activist as Vietnam aims for net zero goals. Mongabay. https://news.mongabay.com/2023/05/early-release-for-imprisoned-climate-activist-as-vietnam-aims-for-net-zero-goals/

RFA Vietnamese. (2023 September 6). Vietnamese political prisoner Dang Dinh Bach ‘assaulted by jailers’. Radio Free Asia. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/bach-assault-09062023004028.html

RFA Vietnamese. (2023 September 13). Vietnam releases activist 18 months early. Radio Free Asia. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/vietnam-activist-released-09132023233643.html

The 88 Project. (n.d.) Dang Dinh Bach [Profile]. The 88 Project. https://the88project.org/profile/538/dang-dinh-bach/

The 88 Project. (2023, November 30). Project88 Releases Issue Brief on the Arrest of Energy Think Tank Leader Ngo Thi To Nhien. The 88 Projecthttps://the88project.org/issue-brief-on-the-arrest-of-ngo-thi-to-nhien/ 

 

The Vietnamese Magazine. (2022, January 12). Mai Phan Loi: Former Vietnamese Journalist Jailed For 4 Years. The Vietnamese Magazine. https://www.thevietnamese.org/2022/01/mai-phan-loi-former-vietnamese-journalist-jailed-for-4-years/ 

Vietnam Climate Defenders Coalition. (n.d.). About Dang Dinh Bach. Stand With Bach. https://www.standwithbach.org/about 

Disclaimer: The letter-writing campaign is an initiative of Bach and the Vietnam Climate Defenders Coalition. APNED is not a part of this coalition, and is only resharing this impressive initiative in solidarity with Vietnamese environmental defenders.