Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for December 10-16, 2018: Situation of Blogger Nguyen Danh Dung Unclear After Two Years of Detention


Defend the Defenders | December 16, 2018


Situation of blogger Nguyen Danh Dung remains unknown for public after two years of his detention. Police in Thanh Hoa province have released no results of investigation nor news on his hearing if he is tried on allegation of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. He was said to be the owner of Facebook account ThienAnTV covering news on systemic corruption and the country’s problems on different issues.

Authorities in Thanh Hoa have also launched probe to investigation against local resident Nguyen Van Trang, member of the unregistered group Brotherhood for Democracy, on allegation of subversion under Article 109 of the 2015 Penal Code. The province’s police have also issued arrest warrant of him.

On December 10, on the day of International Human Rights, police in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province kidnapped local religious activist Tran Thi Ty, taking her in custody for interrogation about her social activities for hours before releasing her on late afternoon of next day.

The US’s government will pay more attention to prisoners of conscience, said a diplomat from the US Embassy in Vietnam. The pledge was made at a meeting in Hanoi on December 14 with relatives of some jailed democracy activists who are subjects of inhumane treatment while serving their sentences in prisons across the nation.

===== December 10-11 =====

Female Activist Chan Thi Ty Kidnapped, Released One Day Later

 On December 10, security forces in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau kidnapped local female activist Tran Thi Ty, holding her for interrogation for two days before releasing her next day.

In the morning of Monday, Ms. Ty took her mother on her motorbike to a local market in Xuyen Moc district. Dozens of police and plainclothes agents stopped her vehicle near Phuoc Buu Pagoda and took her away.

Police did not issue arrest warrant, said her family.

On the late afternoon of December 11, police released her after interrogation about her social activities for hours.

Ms. Ty is a daughter of local activist Tran Van Thuong. Due to their activities aiming to promote human rights and religious freedom, the family has been under constant harassment of the local police, including detentions and economic blockage.

===== 12/12 =====

One More Member of Brotherhood for Democracy Accused of Subversion

Authorities in the central province of Thanh Hoa have officially accused local resident Nguyen Van Trang of “carrying out activities aiming to overthrow the government” under Article 109 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.

The province’s Police Department reportedly launched an investigation against him, and issued an arrest warrant for the young activist member of the unsanctioned group Brotherhood for Democracy.

Trang, 27, who is hiding in a safe place, is facing severe imprisonment if is arrested and convicted.

In the past few years, authorities in Thanh Hoa have conducted a number of acts to harass the activist, including requesting Hong Duc University’s leadership where Trang was studying undergraduate program not to allow him to participate in the final examination for a bachelor degree.

The Brotherhood for Democracy is the main target of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown. Eight key members of the group named Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Van Tuc, Tran Thi Xuan and Nguyen Trung Truc were charged with subversion and sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison this year.

According to Vietnam’s law, individuals convicted of subversion may face life imprisonment or even death penalty.

===== 14/12 =====

US Government Pledges to Pay More Attention to PoCs

 The US’s Embassy in Vietnam will pay more attention to prisoners of conscience, including members of the unregistered group Brotherhood for Democracy who are jailed for exercising basic human rights, said a diplomat from the American diplomatic mission in the Southeast Asian nation.

The diplomat made this statement at a meeting with relatives of several imprisoned members of the Brotherhood for Democracy in Hanoi on December 14.

During the meeting, relatives of jailed activists reported that Vietnamese prisoners of conscience are subject of inhumane treatment of the government. Many of them have been forced to work for many hours every day while prison’s authorities have failed to provide them with proper clothes during cold winter or fans during hot summers.

Families of prisoners, including prisoners of conscience were allowed to provide limited food and other stuff for them so they have to purchase from prison’s canteens at the prices much higher than the market’s prices.

Most of prisoners of conscience have been transferred to prison facilities far from their families.

In addition, prisoners of conscience have been placed in solitary cells or isolated from other inmates.

===== December 16 =====

Fate of Online Blogger Nguyen Danh Dung Remains Unknown

The fate of online blogger Nguyen Danh Dung remains unknown for public after his detention in mid December 2016.

On December 16 two years ago, Mr. Dung, 31, was arrested by the police in his home province of Thanh Hoa on allegation of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

State media actively reported his detention, saying he was accused of posting articles to criticize the Vietnamese government and the authorities in Thanh Hoa province on systemic corruption and failure to deal with the country’s serious problems such as widespread environmental pollution, China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea, and nationwide human rights violations.

He was accused of operating ThienAnTV with anti-government content.

However, the police of Thanh Hoa have never publicized their investigation results in the case so no one knows his situation.

InVietnam, pre-trial detention may be extended to 16 months, according to the 2015 Criminal Code Procedure. However, in some political cases, the pre-trial detention may be longer. Prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha were kept in detention in 28 months before being tried in April 2018.

In other cases, human rights and democracy activists were convicted in trials unknown for public and their families and the results had not been publicized. Relatives of many religious freedom activists from ethnic minorities said they have known nothing about them for years after their arrests.