Many Vietnamese Activists Detained, Charged with Subversion

By Defend the Defenders, July 30, 2017

On July 30, Vietnam’s security forces arrested many activists as part of the increasing efforts of the communist government to crack down local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and independent bloggers.

At Sunday’s noon, police detained three former prisoners of conscience Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton and Truong Minh Duc. Mr. Troi is a former president of Brotherhood of Democracy while Mr. Ton is the organization’s incumbent president. Duc, a member of Brotherhood of Democracy,  is also a vice president of the independent Viet Labor Movement.

The families of Mr. Troi and Mr. Ton said police deployed large number of police officers to their private residences, detaining them and conducting house searching. They took many personal items, including Bible book, the wife of Mr. Ton said.

According to the arrest warrants, Troi, Ton and Duc are charged with “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code. They will be held incommunicado for investigation in the next four months and 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.

Meanwhile, Mr. Truyen, head of Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association, has 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 Sunday. His wife failed to contact with him by phone so she supposed he was kidnapped by local security forces.

Mr. Ton 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, which was co-funded by prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, who was arrested late 2015 on allegations of “anti-state propaganda.”

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 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 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.

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.