Shrimp Farmer Arrested, Charged with Anti-state Propaganda amid Intensified Crackdown

Activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh and his kid


Defend the Defenders, September 5, 2018


Authorities in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre have arrested local shrimp grower Nguyen Ngoc Anh, charging him with “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code.

Particularly, Anh, 38, was detained because of his posts and livestreams in Facebook in which slandered the ruling communist party and its government, according to the state media.

Anh will be held incommunicado for the next four months in the temporary detention facility under the authority of the Ben Tre province’s Police Department, and his family can only supply him with food and other stuffs, police tol his wife Nguyen Thi Chau,

Speaking to Defend the Defenders, Mrs. Chau said her husband was detained at around 11 AM of August 30 when he was on his way to the local government building for a meeting with the communal police. He was summoned by police one day earlier, she said, adding she is not awared of the reason of the summoning.

At the same time, police conducted a search of their house and confiscated his laptop, cell phone, some USBs and documents, Chau said.

He was arrested because he has raised the country’s issues such as human rights violations, China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the South China Sea, environmental pollution, and systemic corruption as well as bad management of the government on socio-economic issues, the wife said.

Mr. Anh graduated from Nha Trang University, majoring in aquaculture. His family moved from Hanoi to Ben Tre ten years ago. They have some shrimp ponds in Binh Hoa Village, Binh Dai commune, Binh Dai district.

Mrs. Chau told Defend the Defenders that she is under great pressure from the local authorities after her husband’s arrest. Plainclothes agents are deployed to monitor their house and her activities. She said she will not send her four-year son to school because she is afraid that he may not be able to deal with discrimination of the local authorities and residents.

The arrest of Anh is part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local dissent which started in late 2015 with the arrest of prominent human rights advocate Nguyen Van Dai and his Le Thu Ha on charge of conducting anti-state propaganda.

Last year, Vietnam arrested and convited 40 activists. It has detained ten activists so far this year, mostly on allegations of anti-state propaganda and subversion in the national security provisions of the Penal Code, and convicted 20 activists with imprisonments of between two and 20 years in prison.

In addition, Vietnam has also detained hundreds of people participating in peaceful demonstrations and imprisoned 35 of them with jail sentences of between eight months and 42 months.

Mr. Anh is facing imprisonment of between five and 20 years in prison, if is convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.