Kidnapped Activist Nguyen Viet Dung Charged with Anti-state Propaganda

Activist Nguyen Viet Dung at a trial of the previous arrest in 2014

 By Defend the Defenders, September 27, 2017

Authorities in Vietnam’s central province of Nghe An have announced that they charge Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and president of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam with “conducting ant-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

The announcement was released by the Police Investigation Agency under the province’ Department of Public Security on the afternoon of September 27, several hours after authorities kidnapped the activist while he was taking his lunch at a restaurant in Quynh Ngoc commune, Quynh Luu district (details of the kidnap: https://vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/core_20150131-130254/2017/09/27/leader-of-unregistered-republican-party-of-vietnam-kidnapped-while-taking-lunch-in-home-province/)

Police said they carried out the arrest on line with Vietnam’s law, adding Mr. Dung will be held for investigation which will last at least four months. During the investigation period, Dung will be placed incommunicado, the common practice applied in political cases.

Dung will face imprisonment of up to 20 years if convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Dung is a former political prisoner. He was arrested in 2014 after participating in a peaceful demonstration on environmental issues in Hanoi. Later, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison on allegation of causing public disorders under Article 245 of the Penal Code.

After being released in July 2015, Dung has continued to work to promote human rights and fight for multi-party democracy.

The arrest and charge of Mr. Dung are part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local activists amid increasing social dissatisfaction caused by systemic corruption, human rights violations, poor economic performance, serious environmental pollution, and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).

In order to keep the country under a one-party regime, Vietnam’s government is striving to silence local activists to prevent the formation of opposition parties. It has targeted civil organizations, especially Brotherhood for Democracy.

Since the beginning of 2017, Vietnam has arrested 17 activists and charged them with controversial articles such as 79, 88, and 258 of the national security provisions in the Penal Code. Five of them are members of the online group Brotherhood for Democracy which is considered by the communist party as its potential threat for its political monopoly..

Vietnam also added allegation of subversion to prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha, who were arrested on December 16, 2015 and initially charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

In July-September, Vietnam has convicted three activists with heavy sentences: Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh with ten years in prison, Tran Thi Nga with nine years in prison and five years under house arrest, and Nguyen Van Oai with five years in jail and four years of probation.

Many other activists have been harassed, detained, tortured and robbed while others are under close surveillance of local police.

According to international human rights organizations, Vietnam is holding over 100 prisoners of conscience while Hanoi always denies, saying it imprisons law violators only.