What is the Database of Persecuted Activists?
The Database of Persecuted Activists is the expanded version of the Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database (formerly at https://vietnamprisoners.info/) that was created and updated by The 88 Project as an advocacy tool for the release of political prisoners in Vietnam. The database was first launched in January 2018, and expanded in May 2019. The expanded version contains information about activists at risk in addition to political prisoners. It is the first database of political prisoners and activists at risk in Vietnam that is searchable and offers reliable, up-to-date statistics.
How do you define “political prisoner”?
We define a political prisoner as any person who has been jailed or had their freedom restricted because of their political or religious beliefs or activities. In Vietnam, this includes people who have expressed disapproval towards the government or communist party regime, engaged in peaceful protest or other non-violent forms of social or political activism, or belong to an organization, race, religion or other groups not approved by or in conflict with the government.
How do you define “activist at risk”?
Activists at risk are those who are not currently in prison, but who are otherwise harassed. They have suffered from different types of harassment by the authorities, such as physical attack, interrogation, administrative fines, forced eviction, and passport denial. Activists at risk in our database also include those who have been sentenced to probation, and who have been released from a prison sentence but remain under surveillance inside the country (released-at risk).
We determine who is an activist at risk not by the way they identify themselves, but by the nature of their actions. They might not identify themselves as an activist, but they are engaging in activism that has put them under the state’s persecution.
What are the Database’s features?
The database provides the latest information on prisoners and persecuted activists. The statistics are automatically updated, so the data is always current.
The database includes many detailed profiles of political prisoners and activists at risk that offer not only basic information on the person, their activism, and the reason for their arrest or persecution, but also information on the family situation, health conditions, and more.
Users can search the database using combinations of criteria such as: name, gender, religion, ethnicity, occupation, activism area, known affiliations, sentence, and arrest details, among others. Activists can also be looked up through harassment incident type (such as forced eviction, physical assault, passport denial, etc.), year of incident, group incidents, and community at risk.
What is new in the May 2019 version of the database?
We have expanded the database to not only cover political prisoners, but also activists who are at risk.
In addition to searching for individual profiles, users can now search by group incident – incidents where more than one activist is involved. For example, users can view all the activists who were implicated in the crackdown against June 10, 2018 protesters, or the crackdown against members of Brotherhood for Democracy. When viewing an activist’s profile, users can also see related profiles of activists who were tried in the same trial, or of activists who were implicated in the same incident(s) with the profile they are viewing, if applicable.
There is also more information on the activist’s profile: perpetrators of incident, authorities of arrest, court of first instance, community at risk that the activist belongs to, international organizations that have taken action for the activist, location of the incident or arrest, rights that were violated in an incident/arrest, and supporting documents (photos of the incidents, screenshots of sources, court documents, arrest order, etc).
The May 2019 version of the Database of Persecuted Activists also emphasizes location and tracks the number of incidents that happen in different localities, especially provinces, in a map of human rights violations.
What is the difference between the Database and the Map?
Both the database and the map draw from the same pool of data. However, they serve different research purposes. The database is profile-centric: profiles of activists are the focus. The map is centered around incidents and perpetrators: people can filter arrests and incidents there, as well as other data on perpetrators.
Why are there two different sets of criminal provisions under Charges?
Up until December 31, 2017, provisions of the 1999 Vietnamese Criminal Code had been used to arrest and prosecute activists. Thirteen such articles had been used by the government to criminalize dissent.
As of January 1, 2018, the 2015 Criminal Code, as amended by Law No. 12/2017/QH14 of June 20, 2017, entered into force and brings about some changes in the order of the provisions and the substance of some concerned provisions. For arrests and sentences that occur after January 1, 2018, please consult the new 2015 Criminal Code.
How do you find and compile the information?
We rely on a number of sources to compile the information:
– First-hand information from families, colleagues, and friends of political prisoners
– Articles from state-owned media that confirm arrests, charges, and sentences against political prisoners
– Information from independent media in Vietnamese, Vietnamese human rights organizations, and social media pages of activists in Vietnam
– Information from international media
We compile the information from the above sources and cross-check the information with existing lists and databases of political prisoners in Vietnam, notably:
– Amnesty International, Viet Nam: List of Prisoners of Conscience, 12 July 2016
– BPSOS, Religious Prisoners in Vietnam, May 10, 2017
– NOW!Campaign Database of prisoners of conscience
– Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience Association’s List of prisoners of conscience
How often do you update the database?
We update the database on a weekly basis. You can search the most recently updated profiles by using the “Sort by” field.
Some political prisoners I know don’t have a profile on this website, why?
This database was created to support the advocacy and assistance effort for current political prisoners. For that reason, we prioritize the data on those who were still in prison as of December 2017 (the time the database was constructed). Political prisoners who were released prior to December 2017 are not included in the database, except when they are listed as an activist at risk due to the persecution they continue to face after their release.
If you notice a political prisoner or activist at risk who should but doesn’t have a profile in our database, please contact us. We strive to continuously update and improve the database and map, and any suggestions on missing profiles or corrections are welcome.