Profile

Ngo Van Dung

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Ngo Van Dung

Other Names: Ngô Văn Dũng

Date of Birth:

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Journalist

Current Prison: HCM city Police detention center, No. 4 Phan Dang Luu, Ho Chi Minh city

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Freedom of expression
  • Human rights
  • Sovereignty
  • Press

Known Affiliations:

  • Hiến Pháp
  • National Movement to Revive Vietnam

July 2020:

On July 31, the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City sentenced eight defendants, some of whom are members of the Hien Phap constitutional rights group, to prison sentences ranging from two and a half years to-eight years on charges of “disrupting security.” The sentences were as follows:

  • Ngo Van Dung: five years in prison and two years of probation
  • Hoang Thi Thu Vang: seven years in prison and three years of probation
  • Do The Hoa: five years in prison and two years of probation
  • Ho Dinh Cuong: four and a half  years in prison and two years of probation
  • Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh: eight years in prison and three years of probation
  • Tran Thanh Phuong: three and a half years in prison and two years of probation
  • Le Quy Loc: five years in prison and three years of probation
  • Doan Thi Hong: two and a half years in prison and two years of probation


Family members and supporters were not allowed to attend the trial, and neither were US government representatives. One representative of the German Embassy was allowed to attend.

Details - Background, History of Activism.

Ngo Van Dung is from Buon Me Thuot City, Dak Lak Province, in the Central Highlands.

Dung is a citizen journalist who filmed the June 2018 protests in Vietnam over proposed Special Economic Zones, and he is a member of the pro-democracy organization the National Movement to Revive Vietnam. Two of its leading members, Vu Quang Thuan and Nguyen Van Dien, were sentenced to eight and six and a half years in prison, respectively. Dung is also a member of the Hien Phap constitutional rights group, which aims to educate citizens about their rights under the 2015 Constitution. 

March 12, 2018: detained and questioned after filming protests

  • Detention
  • Property confiscation
  • Administrative fines
March 12, 2018
Public security
Dak Lak Province (map)

  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression

Ngo Van Dung and Nguyen Uyen Thuy, two members of the National Movement to Revive Vietnam, were detained in Dak Lak Province after reporting on protests of teachers who had been laid off. Six hundred teachers had been laid off, prompting public reaction; Dung and Thuy filmed and interviewed some protesters. The two were detained, questioned for several hours, and forced to pay a fine. They were released later in the day. Police also confiscated their cell phones, which they had used to film the protests.

Arrested September 4, 2018. Sentenced to 5 years in prison and 2 years probation under Art. 118 (2015 Code). Expected Release is September 4, 2023.

September 4, 2018
  • Art. 118 (2015 Code)
Ho Chi Minh city public security, Ho Chi Minh city
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (map)
July 31, 2020
The People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City
5 years in prison and 2 years probation
September 4, 2023
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of peaceful assembly
  • freedom of association
  • fair trial
  • political participation
  • US government
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  • Reporters Without Borders

Ngo Van Dung was taken into custody on September 4 in Ho Chi Minh City, during a Facebook livestream. For days after the arrest, his situation remained unclear, and many feared he had been formally arrested. Authorities did not give his wife information about his whereabouts, first saying he was in Ho Chi Minh City, and later in Dak Lak province.

On September 27, 2018, a fan page supporting the state’s propaganda formally admitted that Ho Chi Minh city’s police arrested nine members of the civil society group Hien Phap, with the intention to investigate for them criminal prosecution. This included Ngo Van Dung. Beginning on September 1, police secretly began to detain the members and withheld information about their detentions from their families. The group had planned to promote peaceful demonstrations in early September.

In early October 2018, Ngo Van Dung’s family finally received an announcement about his temporary detention and prosecution. He was prosecuted by Ho Chi Minh City’s Police under Article 118 of the 2015 Criminal Code for “disrupting security" and detained at the Ho Chi Minh City police’s Temporary Detention Center, where he would await trial. 

July 2019:

On July 18, 2019, the families of five activists -- Ngo Van Dung, Ho Dinh CuongTran Thanh PhuongDoan Thi Hong, and Hoang Thi Thu Vang -- sent a letter to the Prime Minister and many other government institutions denouncing the fives' unlawful arrests and detentions over a period of more than 10 months. According to the letter, in September 2018, all of the five activists were arrested without official warrants. Since their arrests, they had been held in Ho Chi Minh City's detention center. The public security of Ho Chi Minh City announced to the families that four of them are charged with “disrupting public order” under Article 118 Penal Code, with a possible sentence of between seven and 15 years in prison. 

Kim Nga, Ngo Van Dung’s wife, finally met with him after 11 months of separation. Dung told his wife that he did nothing wrong and he had filed a petition. However, the police didn’t allow Dung to tell Nga what type of petition he had filed. 

September 2019:

On September 4, 2019, Ngo Van Dung's daughter met with him for the first time since his arrest. Dung told her that he is innocent and that she should follow his case closely.

October 2019:

On October 4, 2019, Kim Nga, Ngo Van Dung's wife, brought their children to visit their dad. Before being allowed to meet with him, she had to meet with investigation officers. They asked her about the petitions she had signed. She told the officers that since her husband was unlawfully arrested, she sent a petition claiming his innocence. After 30 minutes of working with the officers, the family was able to meet with Dung. Dung was happy to see his family, which was only the third time in his 13 months of imprisonment at that time. 

**

Relatives of five detained members of the Hien Phap group were planning to sue the Ho Chi Minh City Police Department, alleging that their loved ones were arrested without warrants and held for many weeks in unknown locations before the families were notified. The five cases represented are those of Ngo Van Dung, Doan Thi HongHoang Thi Thu VangHo Dinh Cuong, and Tran Thanh Phuong. The families also say that they had not received notice on the various extensions of the fives' investigation periods. All were arrested in September 2018 and held in pre-trial detention until July 2020. They had also not been permitted to meet with their lawyers and were only allowed to meet with their families for the first time in September 2019.

May 2020:

According to Nga Kim, Ngo Van Dung's wife, on May 14, 2020, Dang Thi Kim Xuan, Dung’s attorney, visited him at the Chi Hoa Detention Center. Dung’s wife reported that he had been brutally tortured by prison officials at the No 4 Prison Camp. Dung was then transferred to Chi Hoa Prison Camp, where he was hospitalized. Xuan told Kim that Dung had a long scar and soft tissue injuries all over his body. The reason for this beating is unknown.

***

July 2020:

According to Defend the Defenders, Ngo Van Dung and Le Quy Loc were beaten so harshly at Phan Dang Luu Temporary Detention Center that they had to be sent for external treatment for several days at a hospital; in addition, Doan Thi Hong has reported extremely difficult prison conditions, possibly even torture. 

July 2020:

After several postponements, on July 31, the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City sentenced eight defendants, some of whom are members of the Hien Phap constitutional rights group, to prison sentences ranging from two and a half years to-eight years on charges of “disrupting security.” The sentences were as follows:

  • Ngo Van Dung: five years in prison and two years of probation
  • Hoang Thi Thu Vang: seven years in prison and three years of probation
  • Do The Hoa: five years in prison and two years of probation
  • Ho Dinh Cuong: four and a half  years in prison and two years of probation
  • Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh: eight years in prison and three years of probation
  • Tran Thanh Phuong: three and a half years in prison and two years of probation
  • Le Quy Loc: five years in prison and three years of probation
  • Doan Thi Hong: two and a half years in prison and two years of probation


Family members and supporters were not allowed to attend the trial, and neither were US government representatives. One representative of the German Embassy was allowed to attend.

Reporters Without Borders called on the EU to delay its vote on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in light of Dung’s case.

May 2020:

Read the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention opinion on Ngo Van Dung, in which they determine that both Dung's arrest and detention are arbitrary.

August 2020:

Reporters Without Borders alled for the release of journalist Ngo Van Dung. Daniel Bastard, of RSF’s Asia-Pacific unit, said of the trial: “Ngo Van Dung’s only crime was to draw attention to the current Communist Party leadership’s contempt for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s constitution.” The Hien Phap group calls on the government to implement Article 25 of the Constitution, which allows for greater freedom of the press. Share the RSF statement, here. 

August 2020:

The US State Department released a statement condemning the imprisonment of Hien Phap group members, saying: “Although we have seen the Government of Vietnam take some positive steps on human rights in certain areas in Vietnam over the past few years, we are troubled about the growing trend of arrests of and harsh sentences for peaceful activists since early 2016.”

Profile last updated: 2020-09-11 03:11:10

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