One More Member of BFD Arrested, Charged with Subversion

Defend the Defenders, January 25, 2019

Vietnam’s security forces have arrested Mr. Nguyen Van Vien, a member of the unregistered group Brotherhood for Democracy (BFD), and charged him with “Activities against the people’s government” under Article 109 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code, according to the organization.

In its press release on January 25, 2019, BFD said police in Ho Chi Minh City conducted a house search in his private residence in the city on January 14, one day after Mr. Vien went missing. During the house search, police announced the subversion allegation against him.

However, Vien’s family has yet to receive any official documents from the police which may prove that he is held by the security forces.

On January 25, the Vietnam Reform Party (Viet Tan), a California-based political party of Vietnamese, said Vietnam’s security forces have arrested its member Chau Van Kham, a Vietnamese Australian, when he went to meet with Mr. Vien in HCM City.

Mr. Vien, 48, is an environmentalist in Quang Nam province. He has been active in condemning the Taiwanese Formosa Company for discharging a large amount of industrial waste into Vietnam’s central coast and caused a devastating environmental disaster in the region in 2016.

Due to his activisim, he and his family have been under persecution of the local government so he was forced to leave his home province to relocate in HCM City, the biggest economic hub in the Southeast Asian nation.

Mr. Vien is the first Vietnamese activist being arrested in 2019 and the 8th member of BFD being accused of subversion since late 2015 when the communist regime started its crackdown on the group with the arrest of its founder human rights advocate Nguyen Van Dai and his assistance Le Thu Ha on December 16, 2015.

Last year, the communist regime convicted 41 activists, including nine members of BFD, mostly with charges in the national security provisions in the Penal Code. Eight members of BFD were charged with subversion and sentenced to between seven to 15 years in prison.

It is likely Mr. Vien is held imcommunicado in Phan Dang Luu temporary detention facility under the authority of HCM City’s Police Department. He faces life imprisonment or even the capital punishment if is convicted.

Vietnam is holding around 250 prisoners of conscience, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistic.