Six Hoa Hao Buddhists: Bui Van Trung, Bui Van Tham, Nguyen Hoang Nam, Le Thi Hong Hanh, Le Thi Hen, and Bui Thi Bich Tuyen were tried on February 9 in An Giang province. Bui Van Tham was charged under Article 257 (“resisting persons in the performance of their official duties”) and Article 245 (“causing public disorder”), while the other five were charged under Article 245 of the 1999 Criminal Code. Trung and Tham were sentenced to six years in prison; Nam was sentenced to four; Hanh and Tuyen were sentenced to three; and Hen was given a two-year suspended sentence. According to the indictment by the People's Procuracy of An Phu district on November 30, 2017 (available in Vietnamese here), the defendants "disturbed the public order and impacted the safety and order of the traffic, causing a traffic jam on national route 91C by hindering, obstructing, pushing, and screaming to provoke and denounce transportation police." According to supporters, this is a case of repression against Hoa Hao Buddhist disciples who came for the commemoration of the death of Bui Van Trung's mother at Ut Trung sangha. The cermony was violently attacked by authorities.
On May 24, a Vietnamese Court in An Giang province denied Nguyen Hoang Nam's and five other Hoa Hao Buddhists' appeals of their February 2018 sentences. Authorities tried to prohibit relatives and other Hoa Hao Buddhist followers from attending the appeal trial in support of the six.
News from a monk on Facebook revealed that political prisoners Bui Van Trung and Nguyen Hoang Nam were transferred away from Phuoc Hoa detention center in Tien Giang Province on November 14 because of their protests against forced labor in prison. Bui Van Trung was transferred to An Phuoc detention center in Binh Duong Province, while Nguyen Hoang Nam was moved to Xuan Loc detention center in Dong Nai Province. The monk also reminded his followers of Nguyen Hoang Nam’s previous incident when he protested against police at Bang Lang detention center, Kien Giang Province, for handcuffing Trung’s hands on the way to Phuoc Ha detention center during a previous transfer. Two officers shot at his eyes with electric rods, causing prolonged pain in his eyes and head that has persisted.
Nguyen Hoang Nam and Nguyen Van Duc Do were on hunger strike in Xuan Loc prison camp in Dong Nai province. Nam began the strike on October 11 to protest being transferred to a cell with a prisoner sentenced on drug charges. It is not uncommon for prison authorities to detain dissidents with criminal cellmates as a means of intimidation.
Update: On October 25, 2019, Nguyen Hoang Nam stopped his hunger strike after six days. After six days, the prison managers moved him back to his old cell, so he stopped the strike.
Nguyen Hoang Nam, an independent Hoa Hao Buddhist in An Giang Province who just got out of prison after serving his four years for “causing public disorder,” told VOA that detention conditions at the Xuan Loc Prison are very harsh. He said prisoners are confined to a narrow space, are not allowed to exercise, that food provided to prisoners is not hygienic, soup is very dirty, that food from the canteen is often expired and with a bad smell, and that drinking water is contaminated. Worse yet, prices are 20-40 percent higher than outside.