June 24th 2024, marked the third Anniversary of the wrongful arrest and imprisonment in Vietnam of the environmental lawyer and climate justice advocate, Dang Dinh Bach.

He was imprisoned on trumped-up charges of “tax evasion” after leading a campaign to reduce the country’s reliance on dirty coal.

Bach is the founder of the Law and Policy of Sustainable Development Research Centre (LPSD). He has dedicated his life to protecting communities from harmful pollution, phasing out plastic waste, and supporting the government’s transition to clean energy.

Bach is being kept under harsh and degrading conditions, including dangerously hot temperatures of 45º Celsius (113º F). He is being subject to discriminatory treatment, ranging from termination of access to the common yard to denial of the right to purchase food.

Despite his obvious fragile health, Bach undertook a 5-day hunger strike which lasted until June 29. This put both his physical and mental health at risk.

The UN has previously condemned the harsh prison conditions for Bach and other climate defenders. “Mr. Bách should not have to embark on a hunger strike to demand strict enforcement of laws and dignified prison conditions. Deprivation of liberty and mistreatment in prison should not be used as a tool by the Vietnamese government to silence human right defenders and civil society members working on sensitive issues,” stated UN experts.

Last week, the #StandwithBach campaign launched a global letter-writing campaign to express solidarity to raise awareness and demand the immediate release of Bach, and other climate leaders such as Hoang Thi Minh Hong, who have also been unjustly incarcerated in Vietnam.

Today, Oil Change International is writing to Bach, with our letter below.

Meanwhile, we will continue to raise the profile of other environmental and human rights activists in the region who are also being victimised. Earlier this week a court in Delhi, sentenced the Goldman Prize winner, Medha Patkar to five months in prison in a 23-year-old defamation case.

Reacting to the news, Patkar said “The truth can never be defeated … We have not tried to defame anyone, we only do our work … We will challenge the court’s judgement.”

Patkar won the Goldman Prize in the nineties, for organizing “massive marches and peaceful protests against the construction of India’s Sardar Sarovar Dam, which displaced thousands of tribal peoples and submerged vast stretches of forests and farmland.” OCI condemns the victimization of Patkar.

Our letter to Bach:

Dear Mr. Bach,

Oil Change International stands in solidarity with you and the other climate leaders who remain wrongfully imprisoned in Vietnam. We remain in awe of your courage in the face of adversity and continued commitment to climate justice.

We note that the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found your imprisonment to be a “violation of international law” as well as expressing concerns about a “systemic problem with arbitrary detention” of environmental defenders in Vietnam.

OCI therefore reiterates its call for your immediate unconditional release as well as the release of all climate defenders currently incarcerated in Vietnam.

We are appalled at reports about your inhumane treatment, including dangerously hot temperatures and denial of the right to food and exercise. The government’s failure to ensure basic, fundamental rights and minimum standards of treatment we believe is a clear violation of its responsibilities under the Convention against Torture.

OCI reiterates its demand for the protection of civil society space required for a just energy transition. We know that advancing environmental, climate and energy justice for the people of Vietnam is impossible without your and your colleague’s freedom and participation. A green energy transition will not succeed until environmental defenders can speak openly, freely and walk free.

We look forward to the moment when you walk free and can see your family and friends again. Until then, OCI will continue to advocate for your unconditional release.

In the meantime, please stay strong and know that you are not in this fight alone. The world is watching. We are with you.

From all at Oil Change International

 

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