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Vietnam: Authorities must drop charges against satirist for ‘Salt Bae’ video

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Bui Tuan Lam, whose trial starts tomorrow, faces 12 years in jail if convicted under country’s repressive Article 117

Satirist and activist held for almost a year in pre-trial detention with no access to his lawyer

‘Satire is not a crime’ - Montse Ferrer

 Ahead of Vietnamese activist Bui Tuan Lam’s trial tomorrow (24 May) in which he faces up to 12 years in prison for critical, satirical and other social media posts on human rights in Vietnam, Montse Ferrer, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Research, said:

“The Vietnamese authorities must drop these trumped-up charges and immediately and unconditionally release Bui Tuan Lam - satire is not a crime. This travesty of justice must end. 

“The charges call into serious question the Vietnamese authorities’ commitment to upholding international human rights standards. His case also lacks anything resembling international standards of fairness, as Bui Tuan Lam has been in pre-trial detention for almost a year and was only recently able to contact his lawyer.

“This case is emblematic of the beleaguered state of human rights in Vietnam. The international community should demand that the Vietnamese authorities end their relentless assault on people’s basic human rights.”

Salt Bae video went viral after minister’s meal

In November 2021, Bui Tuan Lam was summoned by the Da Nang city police after his video went viral on Facebook showing him humorously serving noodles in the same manner as the famous Turkish chef known as Salt Bae, in whose expensive London restaurant Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security To Lam was shown eating, sparking outrage in Vietnam. On 7 September 2022, Bui Tuan Lam was arrested under Article 117 of the country’s criminal code, which punishes the dissemination of “propaganda against the state” and is routinely used against human rights defenders. It carries a prison term of up to 12 years. Amnesty is calling on the Vietnamese authorities to end the widespread use of Article 117 against human rights defenders, activists and others who peacefully express their views.


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