Democracy Campaigner Do Nam Trung Arrested, Charged with “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”

Mr. Do Nam Trung

Defend the Defenders, July 6, 2021


Vietnam’s authoritarian regime continues its crackdown on the local dissent even after the country’s new leadership for the next five years has been formed and the latest victim is former prisoner of conscience and democracy campaigner Do Nam Trung.

According to his girlfriend, Mr. Trung was caught by security officers of Nam Dinh province when he was on his way to a workplace in the morning of July 6. Later, police used his keys to break into his rent apartment in Hanoi which he shares with his girlfriend when she was sleeping. She reported on Facebook that around 20 police officers broke into their private residence, conducting house searches and confiscating some personal items.

Like in other political cases, Mr. Trung will be held incommunicado for at least four months. During the investigation period which may last two years or longer, he will not be permitted to meet with lawyers or his relatives.

According to the police notice, the 40-year-old human rights advocate and democracy campaigner is charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code with potential imprisonment between seven years and 12 years, even to 20 years in prison.

Trung is among active participants in peaceful demonstrations in Hanoi in the last decade to protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and demand human rights and multi-party democracy in the Southeast Asian country.

In 2014, while visiting southern provinces during the anti-China demonstration wave, Trung and two other activists was arrested and charged with “causing public disorder.” Later, he was convicted and sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Trung is a member of Brotherhood for Democracy, an organization co-founded by prominent human rights activist Nguyen Van Dai, who was forced to live in exile in Germany in 2018 after being sentenced to 15 years in prison. The organization was the main target of the persecution of the authoritarian regime in 2015-2020, with a dozen of key members being arrested and convicted of subversion and later were sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison.

In the past few years, Trung was under constant harassment of security forces both in Hanoi and his home province of Nam Dinh.

Trung has been the 18th activist being arrested since the beginning of this year. Seven of them, including prominent human rights advocate Nguyen Thuy Hanh, were charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda.” The remaining 11 were alleged of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code, with potential imprisonment up to seven years.

According to Defend the Defenders’ latest statistics, Vietnam is holding at least 258 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi always denies holding prisoners of conscience but only law violators.