Vietnam Court Upholds 11-year Imprisonment Sentence of Human Rights Activist Nguyen Nang Tinh, Sending Him Back to Jail amid Covid-19 Pandemic

Activist Nguyen Nang Tinh (middle) at a protest against the government’s plan to give land for Chinese investors



Defend the Defenders, April 20, 2020


On April 20, the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi rejected the appeal of human rights activist and environmental campaigner Nguyen Nang Tinh, sending him back to jail amid international and domestic calls for releasing all prisoners of conscience to protect them from the COVID-19 outbreak.

At the short appealing in the Monday’s morning in the central city of Vinh, the court upheld Mr. Tinh’s sentence of 11 years in prison and five years of probation given by the Nghe An province’s People’s Court in the first-instance hearing in November last year, in which he was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code.

His wife has informed Defend the Defenders that he looks very weak and lost his weight from around 80 kg to only 46 kg now, adding that he conducted a 46-day hunger strike in Nghi Kim temporary detention between March 3 and April 17. He ended the fasting just a few days prior to his appeal hearing, she said, nothing her family has not been informed about his hunger strike.

The reason for the hunger strike that the Nghe An province’s authorities refused his request to meet with a Catholic priest during the Lent period.

Mr. Tinh, 44, arrested by Nghe An province’s security forces on May 29, 2019. Authorities in Nghe An said Mr. Tinh has used his Facebook account Nguyễn Năng Tĩnh to post and share articles and videos as well as images with content defaming state leaders and distort the ruling communist party’s policies.

Mr. Tinh, who is a lecturer of Nghe An College of Cultural and Art, is very active in promoting human rights and multi-party democracy, and speak out about the country’s issues such as systemic corruption, human rights abuse, widespread environmental pollution, and China’s violations to Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the weak response of the communist government in Hanoi.

There are some videoclips on Youtube in which Mr. Tinh tough students to sing a number of patriotic songs composed by dissidents in which the government is criticized for suppressing anti-China activists.

His arrest is part of the ongoing crackdown of Vietnam’s communist regime on the local dissent. Dozens of activists have been convicted of or being investigated on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” for their online posts criticizing the regime’s socio-economic shortcomings regarding systemic corruption, widespread human rights abuse, nationwide environmental pollution and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).

While many countries have released prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, Vietnam’s communist government has ignored the international and domestic call for releasing human rights activists amid growing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing imprisoning local activists.

In the last two weeks, Vietnam has arrested two Facebookers, charging them with “conducting anti-state propaganda” or “abuse of democratic freedom” with severe punishment expected.

Vietnam is holding at least 242 prisoners of conscience in prison camps and temporary detention facilities with severe living conditions, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics.