Pro-democracy Campaigner Nguyen Trung Linh Still Under Detention, His Situation Unknown for Family

Pro-democracy activist Nguyen Trung Linh calls for release of HRDs Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha

Defend the Defenders, June 9, 2018


Authorities in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi are still holding pro-democracy campaigner Nguyen Trung Linh in custody but have not informed his family about his situation, Defend the Defenders has learned.

Mr. Linh, who posted a statement on his Facebook page on May 25 to call for peaceful demonstrations to protest China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea), was arrested by security forces in late May. However, it is unclear what charge he is facing nor his prosecution is made.

Currently, his family does not know where he is held because the city’s police have not informed his family, his sister-in-law namely Ho Thi Lan told Defend the Defenders.

A retired activist said Mr. Linh was arrested on May 27 afterhe appeared in centralHanoi while his neighbors told his friends that the arrest was made in his private apartment on May 28. Police had also searched his apartment located in Hai Ba Trung district, neighbors added.

Mrs. Lan, who is residing in the US, said her family has litle information about Mr. Linh’s detention.

Mr. Linh’s detention can be listed as enforced disappearance, according to international norm, said Vu Quoc Ngu, director of Defend the Defenders. The domestic public and international human rights organizations should pay attention to his case, Mr. Ngu said.

Mr. Linh was born in 1967 in the central province of Thanh Hoa. He was an excellent student, sent to the Czech Republic in mid 1980s to study a bachelor program. Influenced by democratic revolution in the Eastern Europe in early 1990s, he worked for a student outlet established by Vietnamese pro-democracy activists in Prague.

After returning in Vietnam in mid 1990s, he was detained by security forces but no charge was made. After marrying to a university official, he was arrested again because of his pro-democracy writing and attempts to establish an organization with participation of other activists. In order to avoid being prosecuted, his family claimed that he had mental disease as one of his brothers. He was sent to a mental treatment facility for a short time.

Mrs. Lan said that in the past over 20 years, Mr. Linh has been under constant persecution of the Hanoi security forces who maintain close surveillance on him. He had been arrested and placed in detention for short time without being charged many times, she said.

He has been assaulted many times by policemen who were assigned to follow him, when he met with other activists or took his two children to school, Lan said, adding that in one of these cases, they knocked down his motorbike, causing serious injuries to his older son on his head.

Along with assaulting him, police threatened to take him back to mental disease treatment facilities if he continues to write to advocate multi-party democracy.

Hanoi police also disseminated the wrong information saying he is suffering from mental disease in a bid to isolate him with other activists and people in his areas. They have also blocked his economic activities.

Police have also threatened his relatives in order to prevent them from speak out to support him, Lan noted, adding as a result, few people understand his situation.

Linh had called for the establishment of opposition parties, however, police detected and arrested him in short time, she said.

Along with using controversial articles in the national security provisions to arrest and convict political dissidents, Vietnam’s security forces have used other measures to persecute activists, including abduction, torture, close surveillance, and blockage of economic activities. Many political dissidents have been arrested and placed in long detention without being charged and tried.

The detention of Mr. Linh is part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and bloggers. Around 80 activists have been arrested and convicted in the past few years.

Mr. Linh has been the 4th activist being detained so far this year. Others are namely Vu Van Hung, member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, Do Cong Duong, a anti-corruption activist, and university official Nguyen Duy Son. Duong and Son were charged with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code while Hung was sentenced to one year in prison for inflicting injuries in a trumped-up politically motivated case in early January.