Four Activists Arrested Days Before the Traditional New Year


Tran Thi Nga’s arrest on January 21, 2017. Source: VOA Tieng Viet

The 88 Project, January 23, 2017: At least four Vietnamese activists were arrested last week, just days before Tet, the Vietnamese traditional New Year. Among them are Ms. Tran Thi Nga, former political prisoner Mr. Nguyen Van Oai, Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa, and Ms. Nguyen Thi Mien.

State-owned newspapers confirmed the arrest and prosecution of Tran Thi Nga on January 21 under Art. 88 for propaganda against the socialist state, stating that: “prior to being arrested, Tran Thi Nga was accessing the Internet to upload several propaganda videos, clips, and articles against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”  Nga is a well-known figure among human rights activists in Vietnam. A former migrant worker in Taiwan who suffered from illegal treatment in the foreign country, she educated herself about labor laws and human rights and, since returning to Vietnam, has been using that knowledge to assist other migrant workers and women trafficked overseas. She has been harassed and assaulted for participating in protests against China, protests for the environment after the Formosa incident, as well as in activities to assist victims of forced land evictions. In a video posted on Facebook before January 21, Tran Thi Nga anticipated her arrest, asserted that she did not do anything wrong or unlawful, and warned that any contrary announcement from her part during her time in jail would be the result of torture, coercion, or drugs. On January 23, two days after her arrest, more than 500 Vietnamese bloggers and 10 Vietnamese human rights organizations co-signed an urgent statement affirming that “arresting a woman who has two young kids just days prior to the Lunar New Year or Tet festival is an inhuman and illegal act of the Vietnamese government.” They collectively demand that the Vietnamese government “release Ms. Nga immediately and unconditionally as she is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for peaceful activities in defending human rights” as well as “treat Ms. Nga in accordance with the UN Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners, and ensure that she is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.”


Former political prisoner Nguyen Van Oai after being released in August 2015. Source: RFA Vietnamese

Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa was arrested on January 11, but his family only received the temporary detention notice from the authorities on January 23. According to the notice, Hoa was arrested under Art. 258 of the Criminal Code for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State.” Born in 1995, Hoa is a young activist from Ky Anh, Ha Tinh, one of the areas that were the most affected by the environmental disaster caused by Formosa dumping industrial waste to the sea. He has been active in assisting fishermen’s families in demanding compensation and justice. Ha Tinh police arrested him on January 11, accusing him of “possessing drugs,” though it turned out the real motive of his arrest was political.


Nguyen Van Hoa. Source: Pham Thanh Nghien Facebook

Former political prisoner Nguyen Van Oai was arrested on January 19 for “resisting state officials on-duty” and “violating his probation sentence.” Oai is a Protestant activist who was arrested in 2011 as part of a crackdown on young Christian democracy activists and sentenced to four years of imprisonment for “attempting to overthrow the people’s government.” He has been serving a four-year probation sentence since his release in August 2015.

Ms. Tran Thi Mien was also arrested for “resisting state officials on-duty.” No more details on her arrest are currently available.

On Sunday January 22, priest JB Nguyen Dinh Thuc of parish Song Ngoc in Vinh led a mass to pray for the activists who were recently detained.


The mass in Song Ngoc parish to pray for the recently detained activists. Source: Facebook Thanh Nien Cong Giao

© 2017 The 88 Project