Spokesman of Brotherhood for Democracy Still Held Incommunicado Since Being Arrest in August 2017

Defend the Defenders, April 12, 2018

Nguyen Trung Truc, the spokesman of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy, has been held incommunicado since being detained on August 4 last year, said Saigon-based lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng, who was hired by the activist’s family to provide legal consultation for him.

On April 12, lawyer Mieng submitted a request for permission to the People’s Court of Quang Binh, which will hold the first-instance hearing of his client in coming months.

During over the past nine months, his family has permitted to send him some additional food while his lawyer has yet to receive a permission to meet him in prison to prepare for his defense. Like in other political cases, his lawyer has not been allowed to attend interrogations.

Mr. Truc, born in 1974, was arrested in August last year and charged with subversion under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. If convicted, he will face life imprisonment or even death punishment, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Truc has been active in promoting human rights and multi-party democracy in Vietnam, as well as assisting fishermen who are affected by the environmental disaster in the central coastal region started in May 2016 as a result of the illegal discharge of a huge amount of toxic industrial waste by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant located in the central province of Ha Tinh.

He has been harassed by Vietnam’s security forces, including the kidnap in 2016 when plainclothes agents abducted him and seven other fellows, bringing them to a remote areas in Ha Tinh province where they robbed them and tortured them before leaving them in a forest area. The assault was reported by Defend the Defenders and Human Rights Watch.

Truc has been the 10th member of the Brotherhood for Democracy being arrested and charged with serious allegation in the national security provisions in the Penal Code.

Last week, Vietnam convicted six senior members of the online pro-democracy group on subversion, and sentenced prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai, co-founder of the organization, to 15 years in prison and five years under house arrest afterward. Five others were sentenced to between seven and 12 years in jail.

On April 10, Vietnam also convicted Nguyen Van Tuc, former prisoner of conscience and senior leader of the Brotherhood for Democracy, of subversion and sentenced him to 13 years in prison and five years under house arrest.

Hanoi also imprisoned former prisoner of conscience Vu Van Hung, he is also one of active members of the organization in a trumped-up politically motivated charge of “inflicting injury” under Article 134 of the 2015 Penal Code. He is sentenced to one year in prison and expected to be released on January 4 next year.

The Brotherhood for Democracy is the main target of the ongoing crackdown of the Vietnamese government on local dissent.