Vietnam Arrests 7th Activist So Far This Year, Accusing Her of “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”

Ms. Dinh Thi Thu Thuy arrested by police on April 20, 2020 (Tuoi Tre)

Defend the Defenders, April 18, 2020


Vietnam’s communist regime has not stopped its crackdown on the local dissent amid increasing threat of COVID-19 outbreak nationwide, arresting the 7th activist so far this year.

On April 18, authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang arrested female activist Dinh Thi Thu Thuy, charging her 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 Criminal Code.

Ms. Thuy will be held incommunicado for at least four months during the investigation period and faces imprisonment of between seven and 12 years in prison if she is convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Citing information from police, the state-controlled media reported that Ms. Thuy has created a number of Facebook accounts to disseminate numerous articles to distort the communist regime’s policies and defame its leadership. She was also accused of criticizing the communist regime’s measures in dealing with COVID-19.

Thuy is an activist participating in the mass peaceful demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018 which aimed to protest two bills on Special Economic Zone and Cyber Security. The first seeks to favor Chinese investors while the two countries are disputing over the East Sea (South China Sea) while the second bill which became law from 2019 strives to silence online government critics. She was detained, beaten and interrogated, and fined with money before being released.

In recent years, she has been under constant persecution of the local police who often summoned her to their station for interrogation about her posts on Facebook.

Thuy is the seventh detained activist and the second Facebooker being arrested since the beginning of 2020 on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda.” The first was Dinh Van Phu, who is from the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong and was arrested on January 9.

In January-April, police in Can Tho City arrested Mr. Chung Hoang Chuong and Ms. Ma Phung Ngoc Phu on allegation of “Abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code for their online posts.

In addition, authorities in Gia Lai detained three religious activists named Ju, Lup, and Kunh in mid-March after chasing them in the past eight years. The trio, who was forced to live in a forest during the past eight years, was likely charged with “Sabotaging implementation of solidarity policies” per Article 116 of the Criminal Code with imprisonment of between seven and 15 years. Vietnam’s communist regime often uses this allegation to imprison religious activists.

With the arrest of Ms. Thuy, Vietnam is holding at least 244 prisoners of conscience, 26 of them are held in pre-trial detention which may last more than two years, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics.