Vietnam Human Rights Defenders Weekly’s Report for June 7-13, 2021: Second Facebooker Convicted of “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda” Within Week

Defend the Defenders | June 13, 2021


After convicting Facebooker Dang Hoang Minh of “conducting anti-state propaganda” for his online posting and sentenced him to seven years in prison and two years of probation on June 2, one week later, on June 9, Vietnam’s authoritarian regime jailed the second Facebooker with the same charge, and the victim is Mr. Cao Van Dung from the central province of Quang Ngai.

According to the state-controlled media, Mr. Dung, 53, was sentenced to nine years in prison plus three years of probation. His sentence was the most severe given to a Facebooker since many years.

After jailing numerous famous political dissidents, well-known bloggers and social activists as well as energic human rights defenders, Vietnam’s authoritarian regime continues its crackdown by targeting Facebooker with less popularity and the two cases of Mr. Minh and Mr. Dung have proven that tendency.

Vietnam’s regime continues to persecute prisoners of conscience after unfairly convicting them with controversial articles in the National Security provisions of the Criminal Code and sentencing them to severe sentences. In the case of prominent blogger Tran Duc Thach, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison on the allegation of subversion, the regime has transferred him to Prison camp No. 5 in the central province of Thanh Hoa without informing his family. His wife tries to send him some additional food and stuff but she does not know where to go for supplying.

On June 11, two prisoners of conscience Chung Hoang Chuong and Nguyen Thi Hue were released from prison. Both were convicted of “abusing democratic freedom” and sentenced to 18 months and two and half years, respectively. Chuong, 44, was released one month earlier before his sentence ended while Ms. Hue, 53, was freed three months before her due. Ms. Hue was arrested in early March 2019 and her detention was due to her participation in the mass demonstration of tens of thousands of ordinary people in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities in the southern and central regions on June 10, 2018 to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. Mr. Chuong was detained on January 20, 2020 after writing on his Facebook to express his doubts about the deaths of 3 police officers in the attack of 3,000 riot policemen on Dong Tam commune in the early morning of January last year.

Currently, Vietnam is holding at least 262 prisoners of conscience, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics.

===== June 9 =====

Facebooker Cao Van Dung Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Online Anti-regime Posts\

Defend the Defenders: Vietnam’s state media has reported that on June 9, the People’s Court of Quang Ngai province found a local resident named Cao Van Dung guilty of “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.

Mr. Dung, 53, was reportedly sentenced to nine years in prison and three years of probation as the judge decided that from February 2019 he used his Facebook account “Dung Caovan” for writing and sharing many statuses with content harmful for the regime and affects social orders.

He was said to have formed an online secret group named “Brotherhood for democracy and human rights for Vietnamese.” His hard sentence was likely also due to his participation in the mass demonstration on June 10, 2018 where tens of thousands of people gathered on streets in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities in the southern and central regions to protest the Cyber Security and the Special Economic Zones bills.

It is unclear when Mr. Dung was arrested. It is unknown Mr. Dung had legal assistance during his pre-trial detention and the first-instance hearing.

His conviction is the second within a week. One week earlier, the People’s Court of the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang sentenced Facebooker Dang Hoang Minh to seven years in prison followed by two years of probation. Mr. Minh was said to have posted numerous statuses on his Facebook account with the content harmful for the regime.

Vietnam’s authoritarian regime strictly controls the media and persecutes independent journalists and bloggers. Dozens of Facebookers and bloggers have been imprisoned while others are 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.

In early 2021, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Vietnam is among the world biggest prisons for journalists, with 12 journalists and Facebookers being imprisoned.

According to Defend the Defenders’ latest statistics, Vietnam is holding at least 262 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi alway denies, saying it has jailed only law violators.

===== June 11 =====

Two Prisoners of Conscience Chung Hoang Chuong and Nguyen Thi Hue Freed

On June 11, two prisoners of conscience Chung Hoang Chuong and Nguyen Thi Hue completed their sentences and went back to their respective families. Both were convicted of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code.

Both Chuong and Hue were released earlier than their dues of one and three months, respectively.

Mr. Chuong, 44, was arrested in late January 2020 due to his Facebook posts regarding the brutal attack of around 3,000 riot policemen in Dong Tam commune, Hanoi on January 9 last year. He was arrested and later sentenced to 18 months in prison as the authorities in Can Tho City considered the content of his posts was distortion of the communist regime’s policies.

Meanwhile, Ms. Hue was arrested by the security forces of Gia Lai province on March 2, 2019. She said her arrest was due to her participation in the mass demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018.