April 19, 2021
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for April 12-18, 2021: Anti-corruption Blogger Quach Duy Sentenced to Four Years and Six Months in Prison
Defend the Defenders | April 18, 2021
On April 14, a court in Ho Chi Minh City convicted former state official Quach Duy to four years and six months in prison on charge “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code for his denunciation of corruption against senior officials of the city’s government despite the regime’s call for corruption eradication. Mr. Duy, 39, an official of the city’s People’s Committee was arrested last September after being expelled from the communist party.
On the same day, the authorities of Thu Duc city arrested former police captain Le Chi Thanh on the allegation of “resisting on-duty state officials” under Article 330 of the Criminal Code for his efforts to monitor traffic police affairs in recent years. Thanh, who was dismissed from the police forces last year for his denunciation of corruption of senior police officers of Thu Duc Prison camp, may also be charged with “abusing democratic freedom” for his livestreams on Facebook on wrongdoings of traffic policemen in many southern localities.
Authorities in the Mekong Delta hub of Can Tho have scheduled the first-instance hearing against local democracy campaigner and human rights defender Le Thi Binh on charge of “abusing democratic freedom” on April 23 after suddenly suspending the trial set on April 15. Ms. Binh, 45, who was arrested on December 22 last year, may face imprisonment between six months and seven years in prison if convicted.
Foreign countries such as Germany and Czech Republic as well as international human rights groups such as Front Line Defenders (FLD), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) continue to condemn the recent arrest of human rights defender Nguyen Thuy Hanh, saying the detention is arbitrary and a serious human rights violation. They call on Vietnam’s government to drop the charge “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code and free her immediately and unconditionally.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a statement calling on Vietnam to release anti-corruption journalist Nguyen Hoai Nam, who was arrested on April 2 and charged with “abusing democratic freedom” for his posts on Facebook about corruption and wrongdoings of state officials.
The life of blogger Le Anh Hung is under serious threat while being kept in a mental hospital where he has been under forced treatment since April 2020. According to his family, the daily dose of unclear medicine he was forced to take doubles compared to that last year. When he denies to take the medicine, he is reportedly tied and beaten.
Prisoner of conscience Ngo Hao, whose 15-year imprisonment was suspended in early 2020 for medical treatment after inhumane treatment in prison, was allowed to live in exile to Finland. He and his wife arrived in the Scandinavian country in early April after advocacy of the local human rights organizations.
===== 11/4 =====
Prisoner of Conscience Ngo Hao Goes to Live in Exile in Finland after Sentence Suspension for Medical Treatment
Defend the Defenders: Prisoner of conscience Ngo Hao, who was sentenced to 15 years on subversion allegation in 2013, has been allowed to go to Finland where he will live in exile for the rest of his life.
Mr. Hao, 73, and his wife arrived in Finland on April 4. His health has worsened drastically after being held under severe living conditions and inhumane treatment in prisons in the past nine years.
Due to his poor health, he was allowed to go home in early 2020 for medical treatment. He received advocacy from Finnish politicians and human rights groups.
Trial against HRD Le Thi Binh Rescheduled on April 23 after Sudden Suspension
Defend the Defenders: Authorities in the Mekong Delta hub of Can Tho have rescheduled the first-instance hearing against local democracy campaigner and human rights defender Le Thi Binh on April 23 after unexpectedly suspended the trial set on April 15.
Ms. Binh, who was arrested on December 22 last year, faces imprisonment of between six months and seven years if convicted.
She is a member of the unregistered group Hiến Pháp (Constitution) which disseminated Vietnam’s Constitution 2013 in a bid to educate ordinary people about their rights. Ten members of the group were sentenced to between two years and eight years in recent years for their peaceful activities, including participation in the peaceful mass protest in Ho Chi Minh City on June 6, 2018 to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.
Given the ongoing crackdown on local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders, Ms. Binh is not likely to be freed after the trial. So far this year, Vietnam’s authoritarian regime has convicted 11 activists and sentenced them to a combined 84.5 years in prison and 15 years of probation, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics. Ten of them were found guilty of “anti-state propaganda” and “abusing democratic freedom.”
===== April 14 =====
Former Police Captain Arrested on Allegation “Resisting On-duty State Officials,” May Be Charged with “Abusing Democratic Freedom” Additionally
Defend the Defenders: On April 14, authorities in Thu Duc city arrested former police captain Le Chi Thanh on the allegation of “resisting on-duty state officials” under Article 330 of the Criminal Code for his efforts to monitor traffic police forces.
Mr. Thanh, 38, was a police officer of Thu Duc Prison camp. Last year, he was dismissed from the forces after filling denunciations accusing the prison camp’s senior managers of corruption and wrongdoings.
In recent months, he and his friends went on streets to film works of traffic police teams in many places. His activities are considered by the authorities disrupting the works of the traffic police which is seen as one of the most corrupted groups in Vietnam.
The Police Department of Ho Chi Minh City is considering to additionally charge him with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the same code for his numerous Facebook livestreams on which he talked about bribery of traffic policemen.
===== 15/4 =====
Former State Official Imprisoned for Denouncing Senior Officials of Corruption and Wrongdoings
Defend the Defenders: On April 15, the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City convicted Mr. Quach Duy of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to four years and six months in prison for his anti-corruption efforts.
Mr. Duy, 38, was an official of the city’s People’s Committee. He was arrested in September last year after posting on Facebook about corruption and wrongdoings of senior officials of the committee, including Vice Chairman Le Vinh Tuyen.
The court judged that his posts have defamed the local leaders and undermined the regime.