Vietnam Court Convicts Retired Teacher on Subversion, Sentencing Him to 14 Years in Prison

Teacher Dao Quang Thuc and his students several years ago

Defend the Defenders, September 19, 2018


OnSeptember 19, the People’s Court of Vietnam’s northern province of Hoa Binh foundlocal retired teacher Dao Quang Thuc guilty of “carrying out activities aiming to overthrow the government” under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

In the end of the trial which lasted just one day, the court sentenced him to 14 years in prison, one of the most severe jail terms given to activists in recent years.

In the so-called open trial, only his wife was allowed to enter the courtroom as a witness while his childrens, relatives and friends were kept away from the court area. All the roads leading to the court area were blocked by security forces.

Many activists in Hanoi, including land petitioner Trinh Ba Phuong and his mother former prisoner of conscience Can Thi Theu, were placed under house arrest as local authorities deployed groups of plainclothes agents and militia to station near their private residences in a bid to prevent them from going out.

The trialagainstMr. Thuc was made more than 11 months after his arrest. He was held incommunicado until recently when he was permitted to meet with his lawyer Nguyen Ha Luan to prepare for his defense.

The primary school teacher was arrested on October 5 last year on allegation of subversion.During his pre-trial detention, he was tortured and inhumanely treated, accordingto his family. He was reportedly beaten by interrogation officers and suffered significant injuries so police transferred him to a hospital for treatment of these injuries.

Along with torturing him, police hadalso persecuted his family by summoning his wife and son to a local police station where they forced them to talk about her father’s activities despite having no knowledge of them.

Mr. Thuc is the third activist convicted within a week, and among 29 activists who have been convicted so far this year with a total 217 years and nine months in prison and 56 years of probation.

Vietnam still hold 29 others in pre-trial detention, mostly on allegations under articles  of national security provisions in the Penal Code. Many democratic governments and international human rights have urged Vietnam to remove these articles, saying they are controversial and used for silence government critics.

According to Defend the Defenders’ statistics, Vietnam is holding around 200 prisoners of conscience.