Vietnam to Try Human Rights Defender Tran Thi Nga on July 25-26: Lawyer

Human Rights Activist Tran Thi Nga with her two kids Phu and Tai

by Defend the Defenders, July 12, 2017

Vietnam’s authorities will hold an open trial for human rights defender Tran Thi Nga on July 25-26, her lawyer Ha Huy Son announced today [July 12].

The trial, to be conducted by the People’s Court of the northern province of Ha Nam, will be held after over six months of the arrest of Ms. Nga on charges of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

If convicted, Ms. Nga, who has four children, two of them are seven and four years old, will face imprisonment of up to 12 years in jail, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Ms. Nga was a migrant worker in Taiwan. While working there, she assisted Vietnamese workers to demand Vietnamese brokers to take responsibility to ensure the rights of migrant workers.

Upon her return to Vietnam, about ten years ago, she has assisted land petitioners who lost their land due to illegal seizure from local authorities.

She also participated in many anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi from 2011 to 2016 to protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea), as well as in peaceful gatherings to demand multi-party democracy.

Due to her activities, Vietnam’s communist government, particularly authorities in Ha Nam province have constantly harassed and persecuted her and her two children. She was detained many times and was placed under de facto house arrest for most of the last two years.

In May 2014, she was attacked by plainclothes agents in Hanoi who broke her right leg and caused a number of severe injuries to her body.

Police in Ha Nam have also targeted her kids, throwing dirty sauce containing decaying shrimp at them. Her private residence in Phu Ly city was attacked with paint and dirty substances many times.

Ms. Nga is among six distinguished women human rights activists in Southeast Asia the London-based NGO Amnesty International recognized their works on the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8) this year. Nga, Sirikan Charoensiri from Thailand, Maria Chin Abdullah from Malaysia, Tep Vanny from Cambodia, Leila de Lima from Philippines and Wai Wai Nuwho from Myanmar have faced harassment, threats, imprisonment, and violence for standing up for human rights in the region.

Many international human rights organizations have called for her immediate and unconditional release since her detention on January 21, few days ahead of the Lunar New Year Festival or Tet.

Three days after she was detained, the Southeast Asia Regional Office of the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner released a statement criticizing Vietnam’s government over her arrest.

Nga has not been allowed to meet with her offspring since her detention.

The arrest and trial of Nga is part of Vietnam’s increasing crackdown against local political dissidents, human rights advocates, social activists and independent bloggers.

In late June, Vietnam sentenced government critic Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to ten years in jail for her peaceful activities which aim to promote human rights and environmental protection and protest China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

Since late 2015, Vietnam has arrested and tried dozens of local activists, including prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and well-known blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh. According to Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding over 100 political prisoners.

Last month, Vietnam also revoked the Vietnamese citizenship of government critic Pham Minh Hoang and deported him to France.

In addition, dozens of Vietnamese activists have been brutally beaten by police and thugs since the beginning of 2016 and Human Rights Watch documented 36 physical attacks against Vietnamese activists during the period between January 2016 and April 2017.

The Communist Party of Vietnam has ruled the country for decades and it has no desire to share power with others in the near future.