Vietnam Extends Investigation for Activist Luu Van Vinh for Second Time

Mr. Luu Van Vinh (left) and Mr. Nguyen Van Duc Do

By Defend the Defenders, August 23, 2017

Vietnam’s authorities have extended  the investigation period for second time for human rights defender Luu Van Vinh, who was arrested on November 6, 2017 and charged with “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the country’s Penal Code.

In its letter dated August 18 sent to his wife Mrs. Le Thi Thap, the People’s Procuracy in Ho Chi Minh City said the investigation period will be extended for the second time from July 4 to October 31, 2017.

The first extension ran out on July 3, it noted.

The move will mean that Mr. Vinh will be kept incommunicado at least until late October, and he has not been permitted to meet with his lawyer nor relatives, the practice Vietnam has applied in political cases.

The agency refused to provide her with procedural documents of his case, as she required.

Vinh, 49, is a handyman, electrician and plumber from the northern province of Hai Duong who moved to HCM City several years ago. His family, including three children aged between six and 19-year-old, joined him in 2015. His wife opened a small shop, which it is now difficult for her to keep open without his help.

Vinh participated in many peaceful demonstrations in Hanoi and HCM City to protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the Taiwanese Formosa’s discharge of huge amount of toxic industrial waste into sea waters in the central province of Ha Tinh which caused massive death of fisheries in four central coastal provinces.

He had been detained many times, including the three-day arrest in May, 2016 after he took part in a peaceful demonstration on environmental issue.

Vinh was beaten and detained in his private residence in the city during the lunch on November 6 while his friend Nguyen Van Duc Do was arrested after visiting Vinh’s house earlier on the same day. Police also detained between nearly ten others related in the same case on the same day but released them after torturing and interrogating them for several days, the victims said after being released.

The arrests were said to be linked to the Coalition for Self-determined Vietnamese People. Mr. Vinh founded the coalition in mid-July last year and became the president of the organization which aims to end the communists’ political monopoly. All major issues of the country should be decided by the people via referendums, according to its founding statement.

However, Vinh was reported to have left the coalition few days before being detained.

After Vinh’s detention, Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Vietnam’s government to immediately and unconditionally release him and his friend Do.

The arrests of Vinh and other activists are part of Vietnam’s intensifying crackdown against local dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders amid increasing public awareness about the country’s socio-economic problems, including systemic corruption and widespread environmental pollution.

Six activists namely Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Trung Truc and Le Dinh Luong were arrested in late July and early August and charged with subversion under Article 79. Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha who were arrested on December 16, 2015, were also charged with subversion in addition to “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

Meanwhile, medical doctor Ho Hai was arrested in late October last year and still being investigated on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

Recently, Vietnam sentenced two female human rights defenders prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh or Mother Mushroom and Tran Thi Nga to respective ten years and nine years in prison. Ms. Nga has to be under house arrest for additional four years after the imprisonment. Both have children between four and eleven years old.