Musicians Arrested In Vietnam

Two Vietnamese musicians were sent to prison Oct. 30 for “spreading propaganda against the state” through their music.

Vo Minh Tri was sentenced to four years and Tran Anh Binh to six years. The maximum possible sentence for their specific crimes is 20 years. 

The trial lasted only half a day. The court in Ho Chi Minh City accused the two of posting songs on a website operated by an overseas Vietnamese opposition group called Patriotic Youth, made up of students, artists and young professionals who promote awareness of social justice and human rights issues in Vietnam. 
Tri, also known professionally as Viet Khang, has composed songs in the past criticizing the government for not being more aggressive against China in Vietnam’s ongoing territorial disputes with its northern neighbor. 
The video for one of these songs, “Where is My Vietnam?” has racked up more than 700,000 views on YouTube. Binh wrote music for a song called “Courage in the Dark Prison,” which encourages nonviolent protest in support for Nguyen Van Hai, a blogger who was imprisoned only a month before on the same charges as those brought against the two musicians. 
Human Rights Watch condemned the trial and called for the pair’s immediate release. 
A statement issued by Phil Robertson, the group’s deputy director for Asia, said, “The international community can not long stand by quietly as these free speech activists are picked off one by one by Vietnam’s security apparatus.” 
Patriotic Youth gathered more than 150,000 signatures on a petition for Tri’s release that it sent to the White House. The U.S. Embassy also released a statement indicating it was deeply troubled by the sentences.