Trial of Former Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Van Tuc Set on April 10

Jailed members of the Brotherhood for Democracy

Defend the Defenders, March 31, 2018

Vietnam’s authorities will conduct a trial of former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Tuc on allegation of subversion on April 10, according to his lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan.

The lawyer informed Mr. Tuc’s family that the first-instance will be held by the People’s Court of Thai Binh province.

Mr. Tuc, who was arrested on September 1 last year on charge of “carrying out attempts to overthrow the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code, has been kept incommunicado since being detained.

Lawyer Tuan has not been permitted to meet with his client to prepare for his defense, the family said.

Mr. Tuc is the 9th member of the unregistered Brotherhood for Democracy being arrested last year as Vietnam’s regime considers the online pro-democracy group as a potential threat for its political monopoly in the Southeast Asian nation.

He and other key members of the organization namely Nguyen Van Dai, Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Le Thu Ha, Nguyen Trung Truc and Tran Thi Xuan are facing life imprisonment or even death penalty if convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law. The trial against the first six democracy campaigners was set on April 5-6.

In January this year, Vietnam also arrested the 10th member of the Brotherhood for Democracy namely Vu Van Hung on allegation of “inflicting injury” in unclear circumstance. His trial was set on April 12 and he may face imprisonment of up to 12 years.

Mr. Tuc, born in 1964, was arrested for the first time in September 2008 for spreading leaflets protesting China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty and calling for multi-party democracy. He was charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code. Later, he was sentenced to four years in prison and three years under house arrest.

After being released in 2012, he continued his activities to promote human rights and work for multi-party democracy. He joined Brotherhood for Democracy co-established by human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai who was detained on December 16, 2015 with the initial charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

The latest arrest of Mr. Tuc is part of the ongoing crackdown of Vietnam’s communist regime on local activists which started in late 2015 and became the peak last year with detention of at least 45 activists.

Since the begining of 2017, Vietnam has convicted at least 25 activists and sentenced them to lengthy imprisonments of between three and 16 years. Among the jailed activists are prominent human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and land right activist Tran Thi Nga, both have children at school age.