Vietnam Human Rights Defenders Weekly’s Report for May 31- June 6, 2021: Facebooker Dang Hoang Minh Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”

Defend the Defenders | June 6, 2021


After the formal election of the country’s rubber-stamped parliament and People’s Councils at three levels, Vietnam’s authoritarian regime likely continues its crackdown on the local political dissidents, social activists, human rights defenders, and Facebookers in a bid to ensure its political monopoly for the long term.

On June 2, the People’s Court of Hau Giang reportedly convicted a local resident Dang Hoang Minh of “conducting anti-state propaganda” for his Facebook posts which were considered defamations of the communist leadership. The 28-year-old Facebooker was sentenced to seven years in prison and two years of probation, according to the state-controlled media.

It is unclear when Mr. Minh was arrested. Newspapers reported that he was punished for posting incorrect articles on his Facebook during the period between June and December 2020.

A few days after trying to arrest Hanoi-based blogger Le Van Dung (Le Dung Vova) but he was not at his house, this week the Hanoi Police Department issued a special arrest warrant. According to his wife, he is temporarily safe but he faces great risk of being arrested by Vietnam’s security forces.

As the international community focuses on Covid-19 pandemics and pays less attention to human rights, Vietnam’s authoritarian regime freely suppresses local activists and Facebookers. Along with arresting activists with great social influence, Vietnam’s security forces are going to jail those Facebookers who just share posts unfriendly for the regime. More arrests of people with less popularity on social networks are expected in the near future.

===== June 1 =====

Hanoi Police Issue Arrest Warrant for Blogger Le Dung Vova

Defend the Defenders: The Police Department of Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi has issued an arrest warrant calling for detaining blogger Le Van Dung (aka Le Dung Vova) after deciding to probe him on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code.

The arrest warrant was publicized a few days after the department sent a group of security officers to his private residence in Ha Dong district to arrest him but he was not there. Police also conducted a house search and confiscated his wife’s laptop and two cell phones.

Dung, 51, started his civil activities in 2011 by participating in anti-China protests objecting to China’s expansionism and violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea). Later, he joined other bloggers to work for CHTV channel, an independent channel established by political dissident Vu Quang Thuan who was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code 1999. Dung and other members of CHTV channel have used Facebook’s live-broadcast feature to transmit information on social issues such as land disputes and corruption, and to give ordinary citizens a chance to discuss matters of concern, drawing the attention of law enforcement and security agencies.

He has been summoned by the Hanoi police several times for interrogation about his posts. A few months ago, they questioned about his 12 videos, however, Dung admitted that only a half of them were conducted by him on which he talked about Vietnam’s issues while others were not his original ones.

Several other members of CHTV have been arrested or convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” such as Nguyen Van Dien, Le Trong Hung, and Tran Quoc Khanh.

Vietnam’s authoritarian regime strictly controls the media and persecutes independent journalists and bloggers. Dozens of Facebookers and bloggers have been imprisoned while others under regular harassment. The country has been placed in the groups of the countries in the bottom of the Press Freedom Index of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for many years. In 2020, it was ranked 175th among 180 countries in the index.

===== June 2 =====

Facebooker Dang Hoang Minh Sentenced to Seven Years for Anti-state Posts

Defend the Defenders: Vietnam’s state-controlled media has reported that on June 2, the People’s Court of the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang convicted a local resident named Dang Hoang Minh of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code for his posts on Facebook.

Accordingly, Mr. Minh, 28, was sentenced to seven years in prison followed by two years of probation. It is unclear when Mr. Minh was arrested or whether he had legal assistance during the trial or not.

Citing the provincial People’s Procuracy indictment against him, newspapers said Minh had posted several “untrue stories” concerning current and former leaders of Vietnam’s communist regime on his Facebook page from June to December last year. Former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, founder of the country’s authoritarian regime, was among the leaders Minh had defamed, the indictment said.

Vietnam’s authoritarian regime likely continues its intensified crackdown on local dissidents, social activists, human rights defenders, and Facebookers. Since the beginning of this year, Vietnam’s security forces have arrested at least 13 activists on the charges of “conducting anti-state propaganda” and “abusing democratic freedom.” So far this year, 14 activists have been convicted of one of the two charges and sentenced to between four and 15 years in prison.

Around 30 activists are held in pre-trial detention. Many of them were arrested in early 2020 and the first-instance hearings against them have not been scheduled.