Trial against Pro-democracy Activist Nguyen Nang Tinh Re-scheduled on November 15

Activist Nguyen Nang Tinh with his wife and son


Defend the Defenders, November 6, 2019


Authorities in Vietnam’s central province of Nghe An have decided to re-schedule the first-instance hearing on November 15 to try local pro-democracy activist Nguyen Nang Tinh on allegation of “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Clause 1, Article 117 of the country’s 2015 Criminal Code.

The trial will be carried out by the People’s Court of Nghe An province in its headquarters in Vinh city, according to the court’s notice sent to Mr. Tinh’s lawyer Dang Dinh Manh.

The trial, set on October 17 for the first time, was postponed due to the absence of some witnesses, said the court’s announcement on the scheduled day.

It is unclear whether lawyer Manh and other his colleagues have been permitted to have access to the case’s documentation to prepare for his defense. In mid-October, a few days before the scheduled trial, Mr. Tinh’s lawyers asked the court to postpone the trial as they complained that they had a very short time for his defense preparation. One week before the scheduled trial, his lawyers were allowed to meet with him in police custody and got access to his case’s documents, however, they had not permitted to make copies of the indictment and other documents, making their preparation impossible for the serious charge against him.

Mr. Tinh was arrested by Nghe An province’s security forces on May 29 who later charged him with “conducting anti-state propaganda.” Authorities in Nghe An said Mr. Tinh has used his Facebook account Nguyễn Năng Tĩnh to post and share articles and videos as well as images with content defaming state leaders and distort the ruling communist party’s policies.

According to his family, his indictment was based on the information on the Facebook account Nguyễn Năng Tĩnh, however, he reportedly denied to have this account.

Local activists said Mr. Tinh, who is a college lecturer, is very active in promoting human rights and multi-party democracy, and speak out about the country’s issues such as systemic corruption, human rights abuse, widespread environmental pollution and China’s violations to Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the weak response of the communist government in Hanoi.

There are some videoclips on Youtube in which Mr. Tinh tough students to sing a number of patriotic songs composed by dissidents in which the government is criticized for suppressing anti-China activists.

Vietnam continues its political crackdown on local dissent, arresting more than two dozens of human rights defenders, bloggers, and social activists so far this year with different allegations, from “disturbing public orders” to subversion. Hanoi has also convicted 27 activists on trumped-up allegations with a total 115.5 years in prison and 20 years of probation.

The communist regime is holding at least 237 prisoners of conscience as of  November 6, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics.