Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for October 25-31, 2021: Trials against Three HRDs Pham Doan Trang, Trinh Ba Tu, and Nguyen Thi Tam Suspended

Defend the Defenders | October 31, 2021

The People’s Court of Hanoi has suspended two separate trials scheduled on November 3-4 against three human rights defenders prominent political blogger Pham Doan Trang and land rights activists Trinh Ba Tu and Nguyen Thi Tam.

According to the court’s notices sent to their lawyers, the reason for suspension is that their procurator has been infected with Covid-19 and is not able to attend the trials.

In mid October, the People’s Court of Hanoi decided to conduct a trial on November 3 to try Mr. Phuong and Mrs. Tam on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code for their advocacy given to land petitioners in Dong Tam commune, Hoai Duc district, Hanoi. It also planned to carry out the second trial next day to try Ms. Trang on the charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code with potential imprisonment of between three and 12 years in prison if is convicted.

The three human rights advocates have yet been allowed to meet with their relatives since their arrests in June-October last year.

As reported, after meeting with Ms. Trang for the first time on October 19 to prepare her defense, her lawyers and relatives sent a joint petition asking the People’s Court of Hanoi and the Hanoi Police Department to provide urgent and prober medical treatment for her as well as to allow her to meet with her family, especially her mother who is on her 80s. According to Trang’s sharing and their observation, the Hanoi-based lawyers found her at critical health conditions and they suspect that she may face serious problems if she cannot get urgent treatment.

Defend the Defenders has learned that the Hanoi Police Department has sent medical experts to check Ms. Trang’s health and provided medical treatment for her.

Former police officer and anti-corruption fighter Le Chi Thanh says he was tortured 

During the first meeting with his lawyer Dang Dinh Manh in a temporary detention facility managed by the Police Department of Thu Duc city on October 19, former police officer and anti-corruption activist Le Chi Thanh said he was tortured after being detained by the city’s police on the allegation of “resisting on-duty state officials.” With the presence of two officials from the city’s police and procuracy, Mr. Thanh told his attorney that he was hang with tied legs and hands and being beaten in seven days and during the whole time, he was forced to stay in one place where he eat and conducted other acts. Saigon-based lawyer Manh observed that his client found very difficult while moved to go to restroom. Manh has sent his petition to the city’s police and procuracy to demand for investigation about torture against Mr. Thanh and request urgent medical treatment for him to treat injuries caused by torture.

Facebooker Tran Quoc Khanh sentenced to six and half years in prison

On October 20, the People’s Court of Ninh Binh province convicted Facebooker Tran Quoc Khanh of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to six and half years in prison and two years of probation for his Facebook posting regarding the country’s issues. Mr. Khanh was likely forced to give up legal assistance and he had no lawyers during the trial. Unlike other political trials, his family was allowed to attend the trial and they reported that he did not confess guilty. Mr. Khanh was arrested in April prior to the parliament’s election shortly after he declared to run for a seat in the country’s highest legislative body but is considered as a rubber-stamp by international political observers.

Meanwhile, Facebooker Le Trong Hung was permitted to meet with his lawyers seven months after his arrest on charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. The Hanoi Police Depatment said it has completed the investigation of the case and sent the investigation results to the city’s People’s Procuracy with the proposal to prosecute him of the charge.

Facebooker and political commentator Bui Van Thuan was reported to have denied the right to legal assistance. The Thanh Hoa Police Department reportedly completed the case and proposed to prosecute him of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code with imprisonment of between seven and 12 years in prison if is convicted.

The family of human rights defender Do Nam Trung was informed by the Nam Dinh province’s Police Department that the investigation in his case was completed and the department proposes to try him on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.After two days of hearing, on October 28, the People’s Court of Thoi Lai district, Can Tho City, found five members of the Báo Sạch (Clean Newspaper) guilty of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code. Specifically, Mr. Truong Chau Huu Danh was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, Mr. Doan Kien Giang and Mr. Le The Thang- three years each, Mr. Le Phuong Chung Bao and Le Thanh Nha- two years.