Vietnam Continues Crackdown on Facebookers, Arresting First on Allegation of “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”

Facebooker Dinh Van Phu


Defend the Defenders, January 10, 2020


Vietnam’s authorities continue its crackdown on Facebookers for the second year after implementation of the Cyber Security law, arresting the first activist on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.

State media has reported that on January 9, police in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong arrested local resident Dinh Van Phu for his online activities and will keep him for at least three months for investigation. He will likely be held incommunicado during the pre-trial detention similar to other political cases.

According to the police, Mr. Phu, 47, was used several Facebook accounts such as “Jimy Nguyễn,” “Vinh Nguyễn Jimy,” and “Nguyễn Vinh” to disseminate articles and conduct live streams with content to distort policies of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam and its government as well as defaming its leaders.

He is accused of triggering social dissatisfaction and calling for street demonstrations to protest the communist government regarding human rights violations, environmental pollution, systemic corruption as well as a weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).

Police also mentioned that Mr. Phu participated in the peaceful demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018 to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. The first was considered to provide privileges for Chinese investors amid Beijing’s increasing aggressiveness in the East Sea while the second aims to silence the local dissent. He was reportedly arrested, beaten and fined with VND750,000 for “causing public disorders.”

Along with targeting groups in order to prevent the formation of political parties and civil society organizations, Vietnam’s communist regime is striving to crack down on online activists. Last year, it arrested 21 Facebookers, 14 of them were charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” and five of them with “abusing democratic freedom” in the National Security provisions of the Criminal Code. As many as 12 Facebookers were sentenced to between five and 11 years in prison on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda,” significant lengthier sentences compared to the same allegation in other cases in the previous decade.

The ruling communist party is preparing its 13th National Congress scheduled in early 2021 and it will tighten social life. It is expected more arrest and harassment against local dissent in coming months.