March 28, 2021
Seeking for Candidacy in Upcoming Vietnam’s Parliament Election, Social Activist Le Trong Hung Got Arrested, Charged with “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”
Defend the Defenders, March 27, 2021
Authorities in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi arrested local social activist Le Trong Hung, accusing him of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code for his online activities which aim to promote civil rights enshrined in the country’s Constitution 2013.
According to his wife Do Le Na, security officers kidnapped him near his private house in Hanoi when he returned home after a short city’s tour with his two sons. Police took him away and some other police officers broke into his house with his key. They informed her about her husband’s arrest and searched the house and took away some items, his wife refused to sign in the house searching report made by police because she is blind. Police have not handed over the arrest warrant nor the house search report to her.
The wife said the local authorities sent some plainclothes policemen to station near their private residence on Saturday’s early morning but her family did not suspect anything since he has been de facto under house arrest in a number of occasions in recent years.
Hung, 42, is a former high school teacher with two sons. In recent years, he participated in CHTV, an independent media program aiming to promote civil rights in Vietnam’s Constitution. He and others in the group have also been distributing the Constitution’s hard copies to people nationwide along talking about social injustice and other issues of the nation.
Recently, he has submitted documentation for independent candidacy for a seat in the country’s highest legislative body National Assembly in the general election scheduled in late May. He has criticized works of many incumbent legislators as well as senior communist leaders on his Facebook page Hùng Gàn Lê.
He is the second activist being arrested after announcing their plans to run for the country’s parliament as an independent candidate in the upcoming election. On March 10, authorities in the northern province of Ninh Binh detained Mr. Tran Quoc Khanh of the same charge. Vietnam’s communist regime strictly controls the parliament which has 500 seats but most of them are members of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam. The regime allows dozens of independent candidates but their candidacy is also carefully screened by the party-controlled Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF). In the previous election in 2016, all activists seeking to run for the parliament were eliminated by the VFF in early rounds.
Vietnam continues its intensified crackdown on the local political dissidents, social activists, and human rights defenders after the 13th National Congress of the ruling party which ended on February 1 with many conservative figures being re-elected to its leadership. The party has determined its officials to key positions of the state apparatus in all levels and they have been promoted to these posts before the elections occur.
Since the beginning of this year, five Facebookers have been arrested, three of them were charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” and the remaining two were alleged with “abusing democratic freedom.”