Amnesty joins forces with SilverSurfers.net in appeal for 50-year-old man imprisoned for using internet
The campaign, part of Amnesty Internationalâ€™s new â€˜Protect The Humanâ€™ initiative, involves SilverSurfers.net internet users from all over the UK sending email appeals directly to the Vietnamese authorities calling for the 50-year-old prisoner of conscience to be immediately released.
Nguyen Khac Toan, a mathematics teacher and businessman, was imprisoned in late 2002 after a trial lasting less than a day. His case is one of three â€œcyber dissidentsâ€ from Vietnam that Amnesty International is currently highlighting. Each of the three were imprisoned - after separate trials in 2002 and 2003 - for posting articles online about democracy, human rights and peaceful protects in Vietnam, or sending such information out of Vietnam.
Mr Toanâ€™s â€œcrimeâ€ had been to pass information via the internet to overseas Vietnamese groups about demonstrations held by farmers in Vietnam protesting against official corruption and land confiscation. Mr Toan also reportedly helped farmersâ€™ representatives draft petitions to the government along the same lines.
His conviction for â€œspyingâ€ followed a trial that reportedly focused on the fact that during a two-month period he had sent 24 emails and two computer disks to an â€œexiled reactionary organisationâ€ as well as making mobile phone contacts.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
â€œIt is shocking that using the internet in Vietnam can be considered a crime and we are calling for internet users in the UK to stand up for justice by sending appeals for Mr Toanâ€™s immediate release.
â€œThe SilverSurfers.net link-up is a brilliant boost to our â€˜Protect The Humanâ€™ initiative, which asks people to take a simple step to help people like Mr Toan.
â€œWith a few clicks of the mouse internet users can send a powerful message on Mr Toanâ€™s behalf.â€
SilverSurfers.net Director Richard Wright said:
â€œSilverSurfers.net was established to make using the internet as easy as possible for the over-50s.
â€œItâ€™s very appropriate that a website which gives its users freedom of the net should be championing the cause of a Silver Surfer who has been denied his freedom as a direct result of using the net.â€
In preparing his defence Nguyen Khac Toan was only allowed to meet his lawyer on two occasions shortly before the trial itself. On both these occasions security guards were reportedly present preventing Nguyen Khac Toan and his lawyer from discussing the trial freely.
Mr Toan was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a further three yearsâ€™ house arrest at the end of 12 years. He is currently detained at Ba Sao prison camp in Nam Ha province in northern Vietnam.
Amnesty International has launched the appeal for Nguyen Khac Toan via https://www.amnesty.org.uk/protect/action/vietnam.shtml
The other cases within this appeal are for:
Nguyen Vu Binh, 37, a journalist and writer, who was sentenced in 2003 to seven yearsâ€™ imprisonment, plus three yearsâ€™ house arrest on release. He is currently detained at Ba Sao prison camp in Nam Ha province in northern Vietnam.
Dr Pham Hong Son, 37, a businessman and medical doctor, who was sentenced to 13 yearsâ€™ imprisonment in 2003 and a further three yearsâ€™ house arrest. He is currently detained at Yen Dinh prison camp in Thanh Hoa province in northern Vietnam.
Amnesty Internationalâ€™s â€˜Protect The Humanâ€™ initiative, launched on 17 October, is a new drive to get a million more people standing up for human rights in the UK.
The launch week (17-23 October) sees more than 1,000 parties for human rights around the UK, over 1,700 school assemblies on the subject of refugees, and a variety of interactive arts, film and music events.
SilverSurfers.net ( www.silversurfers.net was established in 1998 and is the leading UK-based directory for the over-50s.
SilverSurfers.net â€œprovides the guiding hand that can bridge the gap between uncertainty and understanding, struggling and succeeding, confusion and clarity, interest and involvement, and most importantly of all between frustration and fun!â€