Vietnam Convicts Third Facebooker Within Three Days amid Intensified Online Crackdown

Blogger Doan Khanh Vinh Quang at the trial on Sept 24, 2018

Defend the Defenders, September 25, 2018


Vietnam’s communist regime has convicted Facebooker Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, sentencing him to 27 months in prison on allegation of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.

At the first-instance hearing held on September 24, the People’s Court of Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho City, found Mr. Quang guilty of posting articles on his Facebook account Quang Doan to defame the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam and its government.

State media reported that police found two flags of the former Southern Vietnam Republic in Mr. Quang’s private house. He was accused of inciting people to participate in the mass demonstration in mid-June in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities.

Quang, 42, is the third Facebooker in Can Tho being convicted within three days. Two days earlier, the People’s Court in Cai Rang district gave Nguyen Hong Nguyen and Truong Dinh Khang two years and one year of jail, respectively for the same charge.

Vietnam’s communist regime continues its crackdown on local dissent and online bloggers which started in late 2015 with the arrest of prominent human right attorney Nguyen Van Dai, one of founders of the Brotherhood for Democracy.

Since the beginning of 2018, Vietnam has arrested 24 activists on allegations of subversion (Article 109), conducting anti-state propaganda (Article 117) and “abusing democratic freedom” (Article 331) in the national security provisions of the Penal Code.

The communist regime has convicted 32 activists and sentenced them to a total 223 years in prison and 56 years of probation. Environmentalist and human rights defender Le Dinh Luong was given the record high sentence of 20 years in prison and five years of probation for subversion.

In addition, Vietnam arrested hundreds of activists and people participating in the mass demonstration in mid-June which broke to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. So far, 37 of protesters have been sentenced to between eight and 42 months in prison and eight others have been given between five and 12 months of probation. More convictions against protesters are expected in coming months.

Despite strong public protest against the draft law on Cyber Security, the communist-dominated parliament approved the bill on June 12 and it will become effective on January 1 next year.

More and more bloggers have been arrested and numerous citizens have been targetted for their online posts on social networks, especially Facebook, the most popular online platform in Vietnam with around 40 millions of users.

Many activists have complained that Facebook suspended their accounts for their posts critical for Vietnam’s communist regime. The situation became worsened since Facebook appointed Le Diep Kieu Trang, a daughter of a senior communist official, as its director in the Southeast Asian nation in March 2018.