Female Activist Le Thi Binh Arrested, Charged with “Abusing Democratic Freedom”

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Activist Le Thi Binh


Defend the Defenders, December 22, 2020

On December 22, authorities in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho arrested female activist Le Thi Binh and charged her with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code. They accuse her of posting anti-state statuses on her Facebook page.

According to her family, police and plainclothes agents kidnapped her when she went out. They took her back to her private residence where they conducted a house search without presence of her family.

The state-controlled media reported that the local police confiscated a large amount of evidence with the anti-state content without unvealing the details of what they robbed. Her family told Defend the Defenders that it received no documentation from the local authorities about her arrest, including the arrest order approved by the local Procuracy.

Ms. Binh, born in 1976, is a younger sister of former prisoner of conscience Le Minh The, who was arrested in October 2018 on the same allegation. Both are members of the unregistered group Hiến Pháp (Constitution) which aims to raise citizens’ rights by disseminating the country’s Constitution 2013. He was later sentenced to two years in prison, and completed his imprisonment in July this year.

Like her older brother and other members of Hiến Pháp group, Binh actively participated in the mass demonstration of tens of thousands of Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City and other locality on June 10, 2018 to protest the two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.

After that, she has been under close surveillance of the Can Tho’s security forces, especially after the arrests of her brother and other members of Hiến Pháp in September-October, 2018. One of eight detained members of the group has warned about her arrest as police interrogators often asked them about Ms. Binh during their questioning.

However, Binh continues to post and share numerous articles about the country’s issues such as systemic corruption, widespread human rights abuse, and China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).

She is likely to be held incommunicado during the pre-trial detention, the common practice applied by the communist regime in political cases. She faces imprisonment up to seven years in prison if she is convicted.

With Binh’s detention, the number of prisoners of conscience rose to 253, according to Defend the Defenders’ latest statistics.