Appeal Hearing for Four Senior Members of BFD Set on June 4

SIx members of BFD convicted by trial on April 24 (from left to right, up to down: Ms. Le Thu Ha, Mr. Truong Minh Duc, Mr. Nguyen Trung Ton, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, Mr. Pham Van Troi and Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen.

 Defend the Defenders, May 25, 2018


The Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam has decided to hold th appeal hearing of four senior members of the online group Brotherhood for Democracy (BFD) on June 4, Defend the Defenders has learned.

Speaking with Defend the Defenders, Mrs. Nguyen Kim Thanh, the wife of veteran journalist and labor activist Truong Minh Duc said she received the information from her husband’s lawyer.

The hearing will be conducted by the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi at the People’s Court of Hanoi.

The appeal hearing is scheduled for two months after the People’s Court of Hanoi convicted six senior members of the pro-democracy groups on allegation of “carrying out attempts to overthrow the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code.

The court sentenced prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai to 15 years in prison and five years under house arrest, Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton and labor activist Truong Minh Duc each to 12 years in prison and three years under house arrest, entrepreneur Nguyen Bac Truyen to 11 years in jail and three years of probation, English teacher Le Thu Ha to nine years in prison and three years under house arrest, and engineer Pham Van Troi to seven years in prison and one year under house arrest. Five men were former prisoners of conscience and co-founders of the group.

Four of the convicted namely Ton, Duc, Truyen and Troi have appealed the court’s decision. Mr. Dai and Ms. Ha are likely unwilling to appeal the court’s decision.

In their last words before the court announced their decision, the activists affirmed their innocence, saying their activities were peaceful and in line with the country’s 2013 Constitution and Vietnam’s commitments underinternational treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Mr. Dai and his assistant Ms. Ha were arrested on December 16, 2015 while the four others were detained on July 30 last year.

Their arrests and convictions are part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local dissent, with more than 50 activists being arrested and charged with controversial articles in the national security provision in the Penal Code since early 2017.

Vietnam has also convicted other three senior members of the group namely Nguyen Van Tuc, Tran Thi Xuan and Vu Van Hung. The first two were convicted on subversion and sentenced to 13 years and nine years in jail, respectively,while the last was charged with “inflicting injuries” in a trumped-up political case and sentenced to one year in prison.

Nguyen Trung Truc, the spokesman of the organization, was arrested last year, also charged with subversion.

A number of BFD’s members have been forced to relocate within or outsside of the country to avoid being arrested, an activist told Defend the Defenders.