Vietnamese Facebooker Arrested for Criticizing Regime, Charged with “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”

Có thể là hình ảnh về 1 người và đang cười

Facebooker Tran Quoc Khanh

Defend the Defenders, March 10, 2021


Authorities in Vietnam’s northern province of Ninh Binh have arrested local Facebooker Tran Quoc Khanh and charged him with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code for his online posts criticizing the communist regime on various issues.

According to the state-controlled media, Mr. Khanh, 61, was detained by the Ninh Binh police on March 10 and taken him to a provincial detention center. He will be held incommunicado for at least four months and not allowed to meet his defense lawyer and relatives in the pre-trial detention. He will face imprisonment of between seven and 12 years even 20 years in prison if is convicted, according to the current law.

Mr. Khanh has posted his own writings, carrying out many livestreams and sharing numerous articles on his Facebook account Trần Quốc Khánh with the content related on serious human rights violations, systemic corruption among state officials, the Vietnamese communist regime’s weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and widespread environmental pollution. The state-controlled media reported that he was arrested due to his posts which defaming the communist regime and distorting its policies.

Recently, Khanh has announced that he would run for a seat in the country’s highest legislative body National Assembly in the general election scheduled in May as an indipendent candidate.

He has been the third Facebooker being arrested for online posts so far this year. One month ago, the authorities of the central province of Quang Trị arrested state newspaper’s journalist Phan Bui Bao Thy and his partner Le Anh Dung and charged them with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code for their online posts to denounce corruption of  state officials in the local projects.

In January this year, Vietnam convicted three independent journalists Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Pham Minh Tuan, members of the Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam, and environmentalist Dinh Thi Thu Thuy to between seven years and 15 years in prison on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

Vietnam’s already low tolerance of dissent deteriorated sharply in recent years with a spate of arrests of hundreds of independent journalists, publishers, and Facebookers. With many conservative figures of the ruling Communist Partybeing re-elected to the country’s leadership in the next five years in the 13th National Congress which ended onFebruary 1, more arrests are expected in future.