Vietnam Court Tries Woman for Posting Anti-State Content

HANOI, Vietnam — A Vietnamese court was holding a trial Tuesday of a woman who posted articles and videos online that were described as anti-state propaganda.

The trial of Tran Thi Nga, 40, was expected to last a day, said a court official in the northern province of Ha Nam who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

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Trần Thị Nga

State media say Nga was arrested in January while she was accessing the internet to post a number of video clips and articles that oppose the state.

Human Rights Watch has called for her immediate release.

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“The Vietnamese government consistently goes to extremes to silence its critics, targeting activists like Tran Thi Nga with bogus charges that carry a long prison sentence, and subjecting their families to harassment and abuse,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement Monday.

On Monday, the Nghe An province police said on its website it had arrested Le Dinh Luong, 51, who “often had acts that aim at overthrowing the people’s government and causing security and public order disturbances” in the central province.

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Le Dinh Luong

Vietnam opened up the country to foreign trade and investment three decades ago and has maintained one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, but the Communist-ruled government has almost no tolerance to dissent.

International human rights groups and some Western governments often criticize Vietnam for jailing people for peacefully expressing their views, but Hanoi says only law-breakers are punished.

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Lê Đình Lượng: see his story:

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Geneva- Paris, July 21, 2017 – Vietnamese authorities must drop all charges against labour and land rights defender Tran Thi Nga and immediately release her, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) urged today.
Tran Thi Nga’s trial is scheduled for July 25-26, 2017 at the People’s Court in Ha Nam Province. She has been charged under Article 88 of the Criminal Code (“spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”). If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in jail.“The harassment, arbitrary arrest, and trial of Tran Thi Nga follow a familiar pattern of repression that will inevitably continue unless Hanoi enacts significant institutional and legislative reforms, including the amendment of the country’s numerous repressive laws,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

Tran Thi Nga was arrested on January 21, 2017 at her home in Phu Ly, Ha Nam Province, after the police searched her house and confiscated several of her personal belongings. On the same day, Tran Thi Nga’s partner Luong Dan Ly, a pro-democracy activist and blogger, was also arrested. He was released the following day.

Police accused Tran Thi Nga of using the Internet “to spread some propaganda videos and writings that are against the Government of the Social Republic of Vietnam”.

“We strongly condemn the prosecution of Tran Thi Nga, which illustrates once more the Vietnamese Government’s relentless efforts to intimidate and silence human rights defenders for their legitimate human rights activities. Vietnam must immediately and unconditionally free Tran Thi Nga and all other jailed human rights defenders,” said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

Tran Thi Nga has suffered repeated intimidation, harassment, detention, interrogation, and physical assaults by security agents because of her human rights activities. In May 2014, a group of five men assaulted her with iron rods, breaking her arm and leg. In the days prior to her arrest in January 2017, Tran Thi Nga was subjected to increased police intimidation and harassment, including surveillance of her home and the use of physical force to keep her from leaving her house. Police also refused to allow a neighbour to take her two young sons to the city to buy them food.

“The result of Tran Thi Nga’s trial is a foregone conclusion and it certainly won’t be the last conviction of a human rights defender by Vietnam’s kangaroo courts. Without renewed international pressure, Hanoi’s crackdown on human rights defenders will continue unabated,” said VCHR President Vo Van Ai.

For more information, please contact:
- VCHR: Penelope Faulkner (Vietnamese/English) – Tel: +33 1 45 98 30 85
- FIDH: Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66 88 6117722 (Bangkok) / Audrey Couprie & Samuel Hanryon (French/English) – Tel: +33 6 48 05 91 57 (Paris)
- OMCT: Delphine Reculeau (French/English) – Tel: +41 22 809 49 39 (Geneva)

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this program is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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