HCM City Police Verbally Admit Detentions of Two Facebookers Arrested Three Weeks Ago

Disappeared activists Ngo Van Dung and Xuan Hong

Defend the Defenders, September 24, 2018


Police in Vietnam’s southern economic hub Ho Chi Minh City have verbally admitted that they are holding bloggers Doan Thi Hong (Facebooker Xuân Hồng) and Ngo Van Dung (Facebooker Ngô Văn Dũng) three weeks after arresting them without informing their families, Defend the Defenders has learned.

Speaking with Defend the Defenders, Mrs. Nga, the wife of Mr. Dung, said that she decided to go to the temporary detention facility of HCM City’s police located in No. 4 Phan Dang Luu street to ask about her husband after many times going to different police units in the city.

A police officer of the facility told her that they keep him and she can send him some clothes and money. Nga requested to meet with her husband but police rejected. However, they have issued no documents proving that he is held there.

Few days ago, Ms. Doan Khanh, the older sister of Ms. Hong also came to the detention facility and she was told that the activist is one of the detainees there.

Ms. Hong was arrested on September 1 while Mr. Dung was detained three days later. They are members of the unregistered group Hiến Pháp (Constitution) which strives to educate human rights by disseminating Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution among citizens.

Members of the group were the leading figures in the peaceful mass demonstrations which attracted tens of thousands of Vietnamese in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Nha Trang, Ninh Thuan, Dong Nai and Binh Thuan in mid-June to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security, said Nguyen Uyen Thuy, a member of the group who merely escaped from police raid.

Uyen Thuy said the group was formed on June 9, 2017 and has 18 members. It planned to hold a peaceful demonstration on September 4 the occasion of the country’s Independent Day (September 2), however, police detected their plan and kidnapped nine members.

Ms. Uyen Thuy said along with Dung and Hong, police of HCM City also arrested seven other members namely Do The Hoa (Facebooker Bang Lĩnh), Huynh Truong Ca, Ho Van Cuong (Facebooker Văn Cương Hồ), Tran Phuong (Facebooker Trần Phương), Hung Hung (Facebooker Hùng Hưng), Tran Hoang Lan (Facebooker Hoang Lan), and Pham Thao (Facebooker Tâm Nguyên).

Their fates are same as HCM City’s police kidnapped them and placed them in their temporary detention facility without informing their families about their arrests and detention, Uyen said.

The exception is the case of Huynh Truong Ca, who was arrested and charged with “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code. He is facing imprisonment of up to 20 years in prison if is convicted, according to current Vietnam’s law.

Although the right to assembly is enshrined in the 2013 Constitution, Vietnam’s government does not welcome spontanous demonstrations. Participants of spontanous protests have suppressed, beaten, arrested and even charged with “disrupting public orders” and may face imprisonment of up to seven years in prison.

Vietnam has convicted 45 citizens who participated in the mass protest in mid-June, sentencing 37 of them to between eight months and 42 months in prison and giving probation of between five months and 12 months to the remaining eight, according to the statistics of Defend the Defenders.