Activist Huynh Truong Ca Sentenced to 66 Months in Prison for Conducting Anti-state Propaganda

Defend the Defenders, December 28, 2018

On December 28, the People’s Court of Dong Thap found local activist Huynh Truong Ca guilty of “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.

After several working hours of Friday, the court sentenced Mr. Ca to five years and six months in prison, and three years under house arrest. Unlike other political trials, his relatives were allowed to observe the hearing inside the courtroom.

His daughter told Defend the Defenders that Mr. Ca defensed himself in the hearing and the judge often stopped him, not allowing him to explain and reject the accusation.

Mr. Ca, 47, is a member of the unregistered group Hien Phap (Constitution) which works to promote human rights, civil and political rights among citizens by disseminating the country’s 2013 Constitution as well as international human rights treaties in which Vietnam is a signatory party.

He and other members were key figures of the mass demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10 which aimed to protest the Vietnamese communist regime to approve two bills Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security, the first one is considered to ignore the country’s sovereignty to favor Chinese investors while the second aims to silence online government critics.

He was arrested on September 4 when Vietnam’s security forces intensified suppression to prevent public demonstration on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day (September 2). Police reportedly arrested and kidnapped dozens of activists, including ten members of the Hien Phap. Eight members of the group are still in police custody, four of them were charged with “disrupting security” under Article 118, one alleged of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Penal Code and three other are without official charges.

The arrest and conviction of Mr. Ca is part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local dissent amid rising social disatisfaction. In 2018, Vietnam arrested at least 26 activists and charged them with different allegations in the national security provisions of the Penal Code.

During 2018, the communist regime convicted 40 activists with a total 300 years in prison and 69 years of probation. In addition, Hanoi arrested hundreds of demonstrators in mid-June, convicting around 90 of them on allegation of “causing public disorders” and sentencing them to between eight months and 54 months in prison.

Vietnam is holding at least 244 prisoners of conscience, according to Now!Campaign, a coalition of 14 international and domestic human rights organizations such as BPSOS, Defend the Defenders, Civil Rights Defenders, and Front Line Defenders.