Tran Thanh Phuong
Current Status: Released - at risk
Other Names: Trần Thanh Phương
Date of Birth:
Last Known Prison: An Phuoc detention center, Binh Duong province
Areas of Activism:
- Freedom of expression
- Human rights
Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:
- Former Political Prisoner
- Prolonged Incommunicado Detention
- Harsh Physical and Administrative Conditions
- Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer
- Infliction of Physical and Psychological Pain
Tran Thanh Phuong was released into home surveillance for another two years, according to the original sentence. However, instead of allowing him to return to his home in Ho Chi Minh City, the police took Phuong to Hue, a city in central Vietnam, without any explanation. Phuong’s wife, Le Khanh, posted a message on Facebook asking for help resolving the issue since her husband currently doesn’t have a job and is sheltering temporarily with a relative.
Tran Thanh Phuong was released after completing his sentence.
Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation.
He was living in Ho Chi Minh City before his arrest.
He is a member of Hien Phap (Constitution) group, advocating for people to have knowledge about human rights, political rights, and civil rights, which are provided for in Vietnam’s Constitution.
He and his colleagues in the group participated in the nationwide protesting against two draft legislations on Special Economic Zones and Cybersecurity on June 10, 2018.
They also called for a demonstration on September 4 for the occasion of Vietnam Independence Day, but were arrested before the scheduled day of the demonstration.
Arrested September 1, 2018. Sentenced to 3 years 6 months in prison and 2 years probation under Art. 118 (2015 Code). Released March, 2022.
- Art. 118 (2015 Code)
- 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
On September 1, Facebooker Phuong Tran was arrested by police of Binh Hung Hoa Ward, Binh Tan district, Ho Chi Minh City. His wife and daughters went to his detention location but were threatened to be arrested. Police detained Phuong without announcing to his family any formal reason about his arrest.
The main reasons for his arrest was likely because of his involvement in the Hien Phap (Constitution) group, which is not recognized by the authorities, and/or his participation in demonstrations against two draft laws on Special Economic Zones and Cybersecurity on June 10, 2018.
After arrest, we has held at Ho Chi Minh city police temporary detention center, located at No.4, Phan Dang Luu Street, Binh Thanh district, Ho Chi Minh city.
Forty-five days after Phuong was arrested without formal charges, his 13-year-old daughter was summoned to the police station regarding her father’s arrest. She was asked to go with her mother, Le Thi Khanh, to the police station where Phuong was detained, at No.4, Phan Dang Luu Street, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Le Thi Khanh also said the reason for this summons was because of her daughter’s video clip and pictures uploaded on Facebook on September 1, the day of her husband’s arrest. She recorded a video in front of the ward police headquarters in case her father was tortured and also took some pictures of police going to their house that morning.
Police confiscated her phone, promised to send it back the next day, but still kept it. They also went to their house and threatened them that if they did not follow the first summons orders, they would send more summons or force them to go in for questioning.
On December 4, Le Khanh went to No. 4, Phan Dang Luu street to send her husband, Tran Thanh Phuong, some supplies because she had not been allowed to meet with him since his arrest. Upon arrival, police summoned her to work in a room right away. She asked to see an official document for this summons, however, they argued that it was a "direct summons," which allegedly does not need an order. Police admitted that they previously confiscated her daughter’s phone for investigation, despite promising to give it back the next day. Police also said that they sent an official announcement on Phuong’s arrest but did not clarify when and how they sent it, because Khanh did not receive it. At the end of the working session, police asked Khanh to bring the couple's 13-year-old daughter for a working session.
Phuong's wife, Le Thi Khanh, had not been able to see him since the early days of his arrest, and she was only permitted to send food once every two months. Authorities tried to summon Phuong and Khanh's teenage daughter for questioning. Charges against Phuong were still unknown at this time. Khanh believes Phuong was expressing his rights in line with Vietnam's Constitution. Read more on this case, from The Vietnamese.
On July 18, 2019, the families of five activists -- Ngo Van Dung, Ho Dinh Cuong, Tran Thanh Phuong, Doan 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 were 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.
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 Hong, Hoang Thi Thu Vang, Ho 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. They had not been permitted to meet with their lawyers and were only allowed to meet with their families for the first time in September 2019.
On July 31, after several postponements of the trial, 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.
Four members of the Hien Phap (Constitution) group were transferred to An Phuoc Prison in Binh Duong on November 23. They were: Do The Hoa, Tran Thanh Phuong, Hoang Thi Thu Vang, and Doan Thi Hong. Phuong was able to call his wife on that day, and he reported that he is suffering from high blood pressure.
Defend the Defenders reported that "Phuong has not been permitted to meet his wife and receive additional food from her during her prison visit on March 13."
Tran Thanh Phuong’s wife and daughter were finally allowed to visit him in prison for the first time in eight months on March 29, 2021. She reported that he was disciplined for refusing to sign a letter admitting guilt and for helping other prisoners request better conditions. He also told her he’d been moved to a much smaller cell with criminal prisoners who smoke a lot, saying this was causing his health to deteriorate. Phuong requested to be moved but has not received a response so far.
See above section for details.
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.”
HCM City Police Summon 13-year-old Daughter of Detained Activist for Interrogation about His Activities, Defend the Defenders, October 26, 2018
Wife of Arbitrarily Detained Facebooker: He Only Exercised His Constitutional Rights, The Vietnamese, February 24, 2019
Eight Vietnamese Democracy Activists Given Long Terms in Prison, Radio Free Asia, July 31, 2020
Eight Members of Constitution Group Convicted, Sentenced to Total 40.5 Years in Prison and 20 Years of Probation, Defend the Defenders, July 31, 2020
Le Khanh Facebook post about his release into home surveillance
Profile last updated: 2022-05-02 17:35:25