May 6, 2021
Joint Statement of Vietnam Human Rights Network and Defend the Defenders on the Conviction of Mrs. Can Thi Theu and her son Trinh Ba Tu
Press release, May 5, 2021
For immediately release
On May 5, 2021, in a hasty trial, the People’s Court of Hoa Binh Province sentenced human rights activist Can Thi Theu and her second son, Trinh Ba Tu, to 8 years in prison and 3 years of house arrest for each person based on fabricated accusation “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items to oppose the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” per Article 117 of the Criminal Code.
According to the indictment, Mrs. Theu and Tu shared 8 videos on Facebook with untrue content and caused social confusion.
As Mrs. Theu and Mr. Tu confirmed at the trial, the videos contain true content about land disputes in Dong Tam commune, My Duc district, Hanoi city, before and after the attack of 3,000 riot policemen into the commune in the early morning of January 9, 2020.
Mrs. Theu and Mr. Tu were arrested by the Hoa Binh province police on June 24, 2020, held in solitary confinement for nine months, and only allowed to see their lawyers for a few months before this first-instance trials. On the same day, her eldest son, Trinh Ba Phuong, was also arrested by the Hanoi police and accused of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117.
We found that the arrests of Mrs. Theu and her two sons were arbitrary solely because of their peaceful human rights activities. They were held in solitary confinement during the investigation period, not witnessed by lawyers during interrogations, and were treated inhumanely and even threatened by a state procuracy officer as Tu confirmed at the trial.
We believe that the human rights activities of Mrs. Theu’s family do not violate Vietnamese law, and this trial does not guarantee trial fairness.
We urge the Vietnamese government to immediately and unconditionally release Mrs. Theu and her two sons and ensure that human rights defenders in Vietnam operate without fear of retaliation.
We urge Vietnam’s highest legislative body National Assembly to remove Article 117 and many other provisions in the National Security provisions of the Criminal Code, which have been used to silence peaceful criticism. For sustainable development, Vietnam needs to seriously implement international human rights commitments.
We also urge democratic governments and international human rights organizations to continue to pressure the Vietnamese communist rulers to seriously enforce international human rights conventions they have signed.
Representative of the Vietnam Human Rights Network: Nguyen Ba Tung, President
Representative of Defend the Defenders: Vu Quoc Ngu, Director