Vietnam Detains Second Facebooker in 2020, Accusing Him of “Abusing Democratic Freedom”

Mr. Chung Hoang Chuong

Defend the Defenders, January 11, 2020


Vietnam’s communist regime has detained the second Facebooker so far this year, accusing him of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the country’s Criminal Code.

On January 11, authorities in the Mekong Delta’s economic hub of Can Tho detained a local resident named Chung Hoang Chuong, 43, for his online activities. He will be held incommunicado in next three days for preliminary investigation and the pre-trial detention would be kept longer for months.

According to a notice of Ninh Kieu district’s police, Mr. Chuong has conducted online activities which “Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens.”

His family told Defend the Defenders that he was detained at his cell phone shop in Ninh Kieu commune. Police also came to his private residence to confiscate his wife’s laptop and camera set.

Chuong’s detention came after he wrote and shared a number of articles on his Facebook account Chương May Mắn regarding numerous issues of Vietnam, including human rights abuse, serious nationwide environmental pollution, systemic corruption and the government’s weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea). His latest statuses on his Facebook page were about the military attack in Dong Tam commune carried out by the Ministry of Public Security and the Hanoi Police Department in the early morning of January 9 in which police killed at least two civilians.

Mr. Chuong has been the second Facebooker being detained for their online activities amid increasing crackdown on the local dissent.

On January 9, authorities in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong arrested Mr. Dinh Van Phu on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code. Mr. Phu, 47, will be held incommunicado in the next three months and face imprisonment of between seven and 12 years if is convicted.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s government reportedly has pressured Facebook to remove articles criticizing the communist regime.

Since the Cyber Security Law become effective in early 2019, Vietnam has arrested nearly two dozens of Facebookers on allegations of “conducting anti-state propaganda” and “abusing democratic freedom” in the National Security provisions of the Criminal Code, and sentenced 17 of them to between one and 11 years in prison, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics.