Amnesty International and the UK-based SilverSurfers.net organisation have
joined forces to launch a new online appeal for a Vietnamese man imprisoned
for 12 years for using the internet.
The campaign, part of Amnesty International’s new ‘Protect The Human’
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
"cyber dissidents" 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 Toan’s "crime" 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 farmers’ representatives draft petitions to the government along the
His conviction for "spying" 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 "exiled reactionary organisation" as well as making mobile phone
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
"It 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 Toan’s immediate release.
"The SilverSurfers.net link-up is a brilliant boost to our ‘Protect The
Human’ initiative, which asks people to take a simple step to help people
like Mr Toan.
"With a few clicks of the mouse internet users can send a powerful message
on Mr Toan’s behalf."
SilverSurfers.net Director Richard Wright said:
"SilverSurfers.net was established to make using the internet as easy as
possible for the over-50s.
"It’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."
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 years’ house
arrest at the end of 12 years. He is currently detained at Ba Sao prison
camp in Nam Ha province in northern Vietnam.
The other cases within this appeal are for:
Nguyen Vu Binh, 37, a journalist and writer, who was sentenced in 2003 to
seven years’ imprisonment, plus three years’ house arrest on release. He is
currently detained at Ba Sao prison camp in Nam Ha province in northern
Dr Pham Hong Son, 37, a businessman and medical doctor, who was sentenced to
13 years’ imprisonment in 2003 and a further three years’ house arrest. He
is currently detained at Yen Dinh prison camp in Thanh Hoa province in
Amnesty International’s ‘Protect The Human’ 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 was established in 1998 and is the
leading UK-based directory for the over-50s.
SilverSurfers.net "provides 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!"
Click here for www.silversurfers.net
Click Here for Nguyen Khac Toan Case Page.