Vietnam: Two musicians sentenced to four and six years in prison

A Vietnamese court convicted two renowned musicians to four and six years imprisonment for anti-state propaganda and links to a banned political group, one of their lawyers said on 30 October 2012.

Hoang Nhat Thong and Viet Khang

Viet Khang, 34, (real name: Vo Minh Tri) was given a four-year prison term while Hoang Nhat Thong, 37, (real name: Tran Vu Anh Binh) was handed a six-year sentence, lawyer Tran Vu Hai told AFP after a short trial in Ho Chi Minh City.

The court ordered the pair to serve a further two years under house arrest once they are released from prison. The court did not provide details of their supposed crimes when contacted by AFP, except that they were convicted under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code.

Viet Khang is widely known for song lyrics which condemn a police crackdown on anti-China activists and touch on other social justice issues. Several of Hoang Nhat Thong’s songs – including one attributed to him that rails against the imprisonment of dissidents – have also been performed by other singers.

In the wake of police crackdowns on anti-China protesters across Vietnam, Viet Khang wrote two songs: ‘Anh La Ai’ which means Who are You? and ‘NuocToi Dau’, which translates as Where is My Country?

When he uploaded them onto YouTube, the songs went viral.

In Where is My Country, Khang asks security forces:

“Where is your nationalism?
Why consciously take orders from China?
You will leave a mark to last a thousand years
Your hands will be stained with the blood of our people.”


Violation of right to free expression
The verdict was called “an outrageous muzzling of free speech” by rights groups. English PEN firmly believes “that they have been sentenced for their critical lyrics, in violation of their right to free expression. We are therefore calling for their immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory.”

Send an appeal letter
English PEN encourages everyone to send an appeal letter to Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Mr Vu Quang Minh.

English PEN – 30 October 2012:
[Vietnam] Two songwriters sentenced
Voice of America – 30 October 2012:
Vietnam Jails Musicians Over ‘Anti-State Propaganda’
BBC World – 30 October 2012:
Vietnam jails two dissident songwriters
Bangkok Post – 30 October 2012:
Vietnam jails songwriters
Widipedia profile of Viet Khang:

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