HCM City’s Court Rejects to Prosecute Pro-democracy Activist Luu Van Vinh, Requesting Further Investigation on Case of Subversion

Mr. Luu Van Vinh (left) and Mr. Nguyen Van Duc Do

Defend the Defenders, March 24, 2018

The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City has rejected the proposal of the city’s Department of Public Security to prosecute pro-democracy campaigner Luu Van Vinh on allegation of subversion under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

According to his wife Le Thi Thap, his lawyers were informed that the court returned the case to the Department of Public Security, asking it to futher investigate the case.

Mr. Vinh, who had participated in a number of peaceful demonstrations on many issues, including the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and environmental ones, was arrested on November 6, 2016 on charge of ” Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.”

He was held incommunicado from the day of detention until October 24, 2017 when the city’s police announced that they completed the investigation and handed over the case to the city’s People’s Procuracy, proposing to prosecute him.

The arrests were said to be linked to the Coalition for Self-determined Vietnamese People. Mr. Vinh founded the coalition in mid-July last year and became the president of the organization which aims to end the communists’ political monopoly. According to the organization’s founding statement, all major issues of the country should be decided by the people via referendums.

However, Vinh was reported to have left the coalition few days before being detained.

After Vinh’s detention, Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Vietnam’s government to immediately and unconditionally release him and his friend Do.

In November last year, the UN Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia called on Vietnam to release three rights advocates who were detained by the government and to investigate allegations that the trio were tortured while in custody. The UN agency said prominent blogger Ho Van Hai and two political activists pushing for greater freedoms Vietnam, Vinh and his friend Nguyen Van Duc Do, should be granted unconditional release.

The arrests of Vinh and other activists are part of Vietnam’s intensifying crackdown against local dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders amid increasing public awareness about the country’s socio-economic problems, including systemic corruption and widespread environmental pollution.

Since early 2017, Vietnam has arrested at least 45 activists and convicted nearly 30 of them in the ongoing hardest campaign against government critics.

According to Amnesty International, Vietnam is holding around 90 prisoners of conscience while the BPSOS and 14 other international and domestic human rights organizations in their Now! Campaign placed the number of prisoners of conscience as high as 168 prisoners.

Hanoi always denies imprisoning any prisoner of conscience but only law violators.