Pro-democracy Activists Vu Quang Thuan, Nguyen Van Dien to Be Prosecuted for Conducting Anti-state Propaganda

Mr. Vu Quang Thuan (right) and Nguyen Van Dien (left) at a meeting with EU diplomat in Hanoi

By Defend the Defenders, November 20, 2017

Police in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi completed the investigation against two pro-democracy activists Vu Quang Thuan and Nguyen Van Dien, advising the city’s People’s Procuracy to prosecute the duo on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda,” said lawyer Ha Huy Son, who is hired to defend the two activists.

According to a letter sent to lawyer Son, Mr. Thuan and Mr. Dien will be prosecuted under Clause 1 of Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

If convicted, the two prodemocracy campaigners will face imprisonment of between three and twelve years, lawyer Son said.

Hanoi police detained the two activists on March 2 and later charged them with allegation of spreading “harmful video clips” on Facebook.

The police investigation agency was said to conduct a search in their rent apartment.

In several months before being arrested, the duo produced and posted on their Facebook pages tens of video clips in which Mr. Thuan as a speaker criticized the Communist leaders and their government for human rights violations, corruption, and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).

Late President Ho Chi Minh and incumbent General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong are among figures criticized by Mr. Thuan. Their clips were viewed by millions of Vietnamese Internet users.

This was the second arrest of Thuan within seven years. In 2011, he held a protest before the Vietnamese Embassy on Kuala Lumpur to demand the Vietnamese communist government to release all prisoners of conscience, and improve freedom, democracy and human rights situation in home country. He had planned for a self-immolation at the Twin Towers in Malaysia but the plan did not succeed. He was then extradited to Vietnam and was arrested but released two years later without being tried as the government considered him as suffering from a mental condition.

The arrests and charges of Mr. Thuan and Mr. Dien are part of the ongoing government crackdown against local dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and online bloggers.

So far this year, Vietnam has arrested over 20 activists with serious charges under national security provision such as Article 88 and 79- subversion of the Penal Code.

Vietnam still holds a number of activists who were arrested in 2015-2016, including Luu Van Vinh, Nguyen Van Duc Do, Phan Trung (or Nhat Hue), Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha and Ho Van Hai. The first five were charged with subversion while the latest was alleged with anti-state propaganda.

Vietnam also sentenced three activists Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Tran Thi Nga and Nguyen Van Oai to ten, nine and five years in prison, respectively, and additional five years under house arrest for Ms. Nga and four years for Mr. Oai.

Hanoi also expelled pro-democracy activist Pham Minh Hoang to France.

According to the US-based BPSOS and other human rights organizations, Vietnam is holding 165 prisoners of conscience.

Hanoi always denies holding any prisoners of conscience but only law violators.