Four more activists detained in Vietnam as anti-free speech crackdown continues

AFP

© AFP/File | Vietnam has arrested four more dissidents as the leadership intensifies a crackdown on critics

HANOI (AFP) – Four dissidents have been arrested in Vietnam on charges of trying to overthrow the state, authorities said Sunday as the country’s communist leadership ramps up its crackdown on critics.Activists, rights lawyers and bloggers are routinely jailed in the one-party state but a new government in place since last year has vigorously pursued detractors.

The four latest arrests were of dissidents who had previously served jail sentences for anti-state convictions. But the current charge they face is much more serious and can carry the death penalty.

Prominent dissidents Pham Van Troi and Nguyen Bac Truyen, freelance writer Truong Minh Duc and Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton were all arrested at their homes on Sunday, their wives told reporters.

In an online statement the Ministry of Public Security said the four were arrested under Article 79 of the criminal code — trying to “overthrow the people’s administration”.

They are connected to lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and activist Le Thu Ha, who have already been detained on the same charge.

“My husband fought against social injustice and China’s invasion of the East Sea,” Troi’s wife Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang told AFP, using the Vietnamese name for the South China Sea.

“He did not have any move to try to overthrow the state.”

Ton’s wife Nguyen Thi Lanh said her husband was already recovering from a recent assault by plainclothes police when he was arrested.

“Voicing support for the people cannot be called trying to overthrow the administration,” she told AFP.

Vietnam has competiting claims with China in the South China Sea but Hanoi is extremely sensitive to any criticism about how it handles the issue.

John Sifton, from Human Rights Watch, said 2017 has been “a terrible year” for human rights in Vietnam.

“More cases of government thugs beating up dissidents, longer and longer jail sentences, and now, more arrests,” he said.

“Vietnam’s allies and donors, especially the EU and Japan, need to speak up,” he added.

Last month prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as “Mother Mushroom”, was jailed for 10 years for Facebook posts about politics and the environment.

Anti-China activist Tran Thi Nga, 40, was imprisoned for nine years for anti-state activities after a one-day trial last week in the northern province of Ha Nam, to which media access was restricted.

The United Nations human rights office on Friday criticised the intensifying crackdown on rights and the recent convictions.

Related:

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting and beard

Photo by Human Rights Watch: Earlier this year it seemed as if every human rights person in Vietnam was assaulted in bloody attacks — From L-R, photographs of (top) Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Nguyen Thi Thai Lai, La Viet Dung, Nguyen Van Thanh, (bottom) Tran Thi Nga, Dinh Quang Tuyen, and Le Dinh Luong after being assaulted by anonymous “thugs” in Vietnam.

See:

Vietnam: End Attacks on Activists and Bloggers
Pattern of Thuggish Assaults Against Rights Campaigners Across Country
https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/18/vietnam-end-attacks-activists-and-bloggers

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July 30, 2017

Vietnam Arrests Four Activists, Charges 6 With Subversion

by Defend the Defenders, July 30, 2017

On July 30, the Security Investigation Agency of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security carried out arrests of four activists namely Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Truong Minh Duc and Nguyen Bac Truyen, charging them with “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code.

The detainees will be held incommunicado in the next four months for investigation on the case in which involve prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha who were arrested on December 16, 2015 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code, the ministry said on its website.

In the morning of Sunday, the agency carried out the arrests of Mr. Ton, Mr. Duc and Mr. Troi at their private residences, and conducted house search, taking away a number of their personnel items, including Bible books of Mr. Ton, who is a Protestant pastor. Meanwhile, Mr. Truyen, head of Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association, was reported to have been gone missing when he was waiting for his wife at a gate of the Ky Dong Redemptory’s Church in Ho Chi Minh City in the morning of the day. His wife failed to contact with him by phone so she supposed he was kidnapped by local security forces.

All of the detainees are former prisoners of conscience. Mr. Troi is a former president of Brotherhood of Democracy formed by Mr. Dai while Mr. Ton is the organization’s incumbent president and Mr. Duc is his deputy responsible for the southern region. Duc is also a senior staff of the Viet Labor Movement.

The six activists face imprisonment of between twelve and twenty years of imprisonment, life imprisonment or capital punishment if are convicted, according to the country’s current law.

Mr. Ton, 45, was a prisoner of conscience. He was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. Released in early 2013, he has continued to fight for human rights and multi-party democracy. Recently, he was elected as the head of the Brotherhood for Democracy.

In recent years, Mr. Ton and his family have been constantly harassed by local authorities in Thanh Hoa province. In addition to publicly defaming him through local media, the radio and loudspeakers in his neighborhood, plainclothes agents have disrupted the business of his wife at a local wet market. They even destroyed her booth of seafood products.

In late February, Ton and his friend were kidnapped, robbed and brutally beaten by plainclothes agents in the central province of Quang Binh. His legs were broken as the kidnappers used wooden sticks to beat him. He is still under special treatment for injuries sustaining from the attack after long spending in hospitals for surgery operation for his legs.

Mr. Troi, 46, was arrested in 2008 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. Later, he was sentenced to four years in prison and additional four years under house arrest.

After being released in September 2012, he has continued to work for promoting human rights and multi-party democracy. In 2014-2016, he was president of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy founded by imprisoned human right lawyer Nguyen Van Dai.

Mr. Duc, 57, was arrested in 2007 and later sentenced to five years in prison on allegation of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the Penal Code. After being released in May 2012, he has been under constant persecution, including physical attacks. Currently, he is vice president of Viet Labor Movement. Hoang Duc Binh, vice president of the movement, was arrested on May 15 and charged with “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 257 and “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Penal Code.

Meanwhile, Mr. Truyen, 49, has been beaten many times by thugs since being released in May 2010. In 2006, he was arrested and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88. Later he was sentenced to 3.5 years.

The arrests and allegations are part of Vietnam’s intensifying crackdown against local political dissidents, human rights advocates, social activists and independent bloggers amid increasing social dissatisfaction on systemic corruption, economic mismanagement, heavy environmental pollution and other problems that the Southeast Asian nation is facing.

On July 26, police in the central province of Nghe An arrested Le Dinh Luong and charged him with “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Penal Code.

Within one month from June 29, Vietnam sentenced two human rights defenders Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and Tran Thi Nga to nine and ten years in jail, respectively on charges of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

Dozens of activists have been arrested and many of them sentenced to heavy imprisonments since the beginning of 2016 when the ruling communist party held its National Congress to elect the new leadership for the 2016-2020 period, with many police generals being selected to key positions of the party and state apparatuses.

The communist government has strived to keep the country under a one-party regime and make all effort to prevent the formation of opposition party.

http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2017/07/30/vietnam-arrests-four-activists-charging-six-with-subversion/

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2 Responses to “Four more activists detained in Vietnam as anti-free speech crackdown continues”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

  2. goldsteinweb Says:

    “Vietnam’s allies and donors, especially the EU and Japan” aha

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