Hau Giang Police Extend Investigation Period against Local Activist Dinh Thi Thu Thuy

Ms. Dinh Thi Thu Thuy arrested by police on April 20, 2020 (Tuoi Tre)

Defend the Defenders, August 19, 2020


The police in Vietnam’s southern province of Hau Giang have extended the investigation period against local human rights defender Dinh Thi Thuy Thuy by four more months, Defend the Defenders has learned.

Talking to Defend the Defenders, her younger sister Dinh Thi Hien said her family has received the notice about the detention of the activist from the province police recently. They also informed that due to the reoccurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the family will not be allowed to send additional food and stuff for her in order to prevent the Coronavirus infection in the detention facility.

Ms. Thuy was arrested on April 18 on allegation of “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code. She has been held incommunicado in the past four months and faces imprisonment of between seven and 12 years in prison or even up to 20 years if she is convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Citing information from police, the state-controlled media reported that Ms. Thuy has created a number of Facebook accounts to disseminate numerous articles to distort the communist regime’s policies and defame its leadership. She was also accused of criticizing the communist regime’s measures in dealing with COVID-19.

Thuy is an activist participating in the mass peaceful demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018 which aimed to protest two bills on Special Economic Zone and Cyber Security. The first seeks to favor Chinese investors while the two countries are disputing over the East Sea (South China Sea) while the second bill which became law from 2019 strives to silence online government critics. She was detained, beaten and interrogated, and fined with money before being released.

In recent years, she has been under constant persecution of the local police who often summoned her to their station for interrogation about her posts on Facebook.

Thuy’s family also informed Defend the Defenders that her father was also fined VND2.5 million ($110) for a poem in which he mentioned former deputy minister Chu Hao and police general Truong Gia Long. The first advocates for multi-party democracy and civil rights while the second once stated that a number of senior state officials of the communist regime are working as Chinese agents.

Thuy is among 50 activists being arrested so far this year, 16 of them were charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 or “Abusing democratic freedom under Article 331 of the Criminal Code.

Vietnam is holding at least 274 prisoners of conscience, 54 of them are held in pre-trial detention which may last more than two years, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics.