Democracy Campaigner Nguyen Viet Dung Transferred to Prison Far from His Family, His Relatives Not Informed

Mr. Nguyen Viet Dung was beaten by thugs after participating in peaceful anti-China protest on March 14, 2017



Defend the Defenders, November 19, 2018

Vietnam’s authorities have transferred jailed human rights defender and democracy activist Nguyen Viet Dung to Ba Sao Prison camp in the northern province of Ha Nam without informing his family about his transfer, Defend the Defenders has learned.

On November 19, Mr. Dung’s father went to Nghi Kim temporary detention facility under the authority of the Nghe An province’s Police Department where Dung had been held in the facility since his arrest in September last year to visit him. However, the facility’s authorities said Dung had been taken to the new place where he will serve his six-year imprisonment.

Ba Sao Prison camp is about 200 km from Dung’s native Yen Thanh district, the family said.

Dung, the founder and the president of the unsanctioned Vietnam Republican Party, was kidnapped by plainclothes agents in his home province of Nghe An on September 27, 2017.Later, the Nghe An province’s police charged him with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code for his social activities which aim to promote human rights and multi-party democracy and protect environment as well as assist residents affected by the pollution caused by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant.

His arrest is linked to his assistance given to local fishermen whose lives are seriously affected after the massive death of fish in the central coastal region due to the illegal discharge of toxic industrial waste from the Formosa steel plant in the central province of Ha Tinh.

On April 12 this year, Dung was convicted by the People’s Court of Nghe An which sentenced him to seven years in prison and five years of probation. On August 15, the Higher People’s Court in Hanoireduced his prison sentence to six years but kept the probation period. The trial and the appeal hearings failed to meet international standards for fair trials, according to his lawyer Ha Huy Son.

Dungwas reportedly brutally beaten by kidnappers during the abduction.While being held in Nghi Kim temporary detention facility, he was also tortured by interrogation officers who want him to make false confession against pro-democracy activist Le Dinh Luong, who was sentenced to 20 years on allegation of subversion earlier this year.

On March 26this year, Human Rights Watch issued a statement  calling on Vietnam to drop all charges against Dung and release him immediately. The New York-based organization also condemned Vietnam’s use of controversial articles including Articles 79 and 88 in the national security provisions of the Penal Code to silence local political dissidents, human rights defenders and social activists.

On April 12, Amnesty International issued a press release  regarding the separate trials of Dung and Vu Van Hung, a former prisoner of conscience and member of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy. James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said that “Nguyen Viet Dung is a brave young activist in a country where human rights are under attack. This man has already served time in prison for his peaceful activism once before. To ensure there is no repeat of this injustice, the authorities of Nghe An province must immediately drop all charges against Dung and release him immediately.”

Along with giving barbaric lengthy sentences to human rights defenders and democracy campaigners for their brave activities to protect the community and the country, Vietnam’s communist regime has sent them to prison camps far from their families in a bid to cause difficulties for their relatives to pay regular visits. In addition, prisons’ authorities often use severe measures to treat them in a bid to break their fighting spirit.