Pro-democracy College Lecturer Nguyen Nang Tinh Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

College lecturer Nguyen Nang Tinh

Defend the Defenders, November 15, 2019


On November 11, the People’s Court of Vietnam’s central province of Nghe An found local pro-democracy college lecturer Nguyen Nang Tinh guilty 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.

After a few hours in Friday morning, the court sentenced him to 11 years in jail and five years of probation, the toughest imprisonment given for anti-state propaganda allegation for decades.

Three lawyers Dang Dinh Manh, Trinh Vinh Phuc, and Nguyen Van Mieng went to the courtroom without documentation for Mr. Tinh’s case since they had not been permitted to get access to the documents, including the indictment as Nghe An province’s authorities said the case’s documents are among top national secret. The attorneys were reportedly requested to leave their laptops and cell phones outside of the courtroom.

In his last words in the trial, before the judge announced the court’s decision, Mr. Tinh said he would repeat his actions to protect the country and promote human rights and democracy even he will be punished severely.

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 lecturer of Nghe An College of Cultural and Art, 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 human rights defenders, bloggers, and social activists so far this year with different allegations, from “disturbing public orders” to subversion and even terrorism. Hanoi has also convicted 31 activists on trumped-up allegations with a total 153.5 years in prison and 35 years of probation.

The communist regime is holding at least 237 prisoners of conscience as of  November 15, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics. It is a worrying trend that the communist regime has been ging much longer sentences in recent years for the same allegations in the national security provisions of the Criminal Code compared to a decade ago, noted Vu Quoc Ngu, director of Vietnam’s non-profit organization.