Nguyen Van Hoa
Current Status: Sentenced to prison
Other Names: Nguyễn Văn Hóa
Date of Birth: April 15, 1995
Religion: Christian (Catholic)
Current Prison: An Diem prison, Dai Loc district, Quang Nam province
Areas of Activism:
Portrait by Liset Celie for The 88 Project
On May 13, 2019, political prisoner Hoang Duc Binh, held in An Diem Detention Center, the same place as Nguyen Van Hoa, called his family and revealed that detention officers gripped Hoa’s neck and beat him harshly. On May 14, Hoa’s family went to visit Hoa. However, the detention center just informed them that Hoa had been punished and was not allowed to meet with them. Hoa was reported to be in solitary confinement.
Details - Background, History of Activism.
Born in 1995, Hoa is a young Catholic activist from Ky Anh, Ha Tinh province, one of the areas that was most affected by the environmental disaster caused by Formosa dumping industrial waste into the sea.
After the Formosa environmental disaster occurred in April 2016, Nguyen Van Hoa was active in assisting fishermens' families in demanding compensation and justice. A digital security trainer and regular contributor to RFA, Hoa’s live broadcast of footage of peaceful protests in October 2016 outside Taiwan-owned Formosa’s steel plant in Ha Tinh province, using a flycam drone, went viral.
Footage by Nguyen Van Hoa’s flycam recording the protest in front of Formosa’s steel plant in Ha Tinh province.
Nhathothaiha.net, Nguyễn Văn Hóa – người đầu tiên trong năm 2017 bị bắt theo điều 258
BBC Vietnamese, Ông Nguyễn Văn Hóa bị tạm giam vì vi phạm điều 258 BLHS
Vietnamese videographer beaten and harassed in prison, The Committee to Protect Journalists, August 20, 2018
Letter: Jailed Vietnamese Activist Nguyen Van Hoa Suffers Abuse in Prison, Radio Free Asia, October 24, 2018
Jailed Vietnamese Activist Goes on Hunger Strike Over Beatings by Police, Radio Free Asia, February 28, 2019
BBC Vietnamese, Báo VN nói Nguyễn Văn Hóa nhận ‘ngàn đô’ để kích động
Defend the Defender's archives
Arrested January 11, 2017. Sentenced to 7 years in prison under Art. 88 (1999 Code). Expected Release is January 11, 2024.
- Art. 88 (1999 Code)
Ha Tinh police arrested Nguyen Van Hoa on January 11, 2017, on the streets, accusing him of “motorbike theft and drug dealership.” His family only received the temporary detention notice from the authorities on January 23, in which Ha Tinh police informed them that he was being detained under Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State and the rights and legitimate interests of organizations and citizens.”
The authorities did not officially announce Hoa’s arrest until April 6, 2017. He was held in pre-trial detention at Cau Dong prison, Ha Tinh province.
On June 15, 2017, the authorities formally changed his charges from Art. 258 to Art. 88 (“propaganda against the socialist state”). In the same month, his family was informed that Hoa refused to have a defense lawyer.
On November 27, 2017, in a secret trial, Hoa was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment and 3 years of probation. Neither a defense lawyer nor his family was present at the trial. State-owned media, citing the indictment against Nguyen Van Hoa, stated the accusation as follow: “Since 2013, Nguyen Van Hoa has created the Facebook page Nguyễn Văn Hóa (Maria Luygonjaga) in order to share and distribute articles, videos, and images with content that incites, distorts the truth, and propagates reactionary arguments against the directives and policies of the Party and the State. The goal was to incite people to gather and protest the enviromental issue at sea and the flooding in Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh.”
Nguyen Van Hoa was transferred to An Diem prison, located in Dai Loc district of the central province of Quang Nam, approximately 500 km away from his native Ha Tinh Province. It is becoming increasingly common for Vietnamese authorities to transfer prisoners of conscience to facilities far from their families, making it difficult for them to visit the detainees.
Imprisoned journalist Nguyen Van Hoa was beaten and forced into giving testimony used against environmental activist Le Dinh Luong in court, The Committee to Protect Journalists reported. Hoa later recanted on the witness stand, saying the statements were made under duress of the assault. Luong, however, was still sentenced to 20 years in prison. Both activists had been involved with activism after the Formosa environmental disaster. There is also a report that imprisoned founder of the Vietnam Republic Party, Nguyen Viet Dung, was coerced into giving false testimony as well, which he also later recanted, separately from Hoa. Luong's lawyers were not allowed to meet with either witness. After Dung recanted, his family was denied a visit with him in prison.
Nguyen Van Hoa sent a letter to his family on October 19, 2018 detailing systemic abuse by multiple parties during his investigation and time sentenced in prison. For example, the supervisor of the detention center in Nghe An province beat Hoa in the isolation room at court during the first instance court hearing of Le Dinh Luong in Nghe An Province on August 16, 2018. In this trial, the authorities wanted to use Hoa (and Nguyen Viet Dung) to oppose Le Dinh Luong and build a case against him. However, both of them advocated for Luong. Therefore, Hoa was pulled into the isolation room and beaten for not cooperating. The court then prohibited him from being a witness, saying that the “witness got a stomach ache."
In addition, Hoa’s leg had a tumor but the detention center only checked it without providing any treatment. He submitted an application, asking for treatment, but it was not accepted. Moreover, he allegec that two investigators from Ha Tinh Province took illegal actions when interrogating and investigating him about incidents he wasn't involved with, and they threatened he would be prosecuted in other cases if he did not cooperate with the questioning. Also, the Investigation Agency of Ha Tinh province did not deactivate his Facebook account during their investigation of him but instead used it to carry out illegal actions.
On November 24, Nguyen Van Hoa's family received a letter written from Hoa at An Diem Detention Center on November 1. In the letter, Hoa said that he would continue to denounce the Deputy Supervisor of the detention center for beating him harshly when Hoa, along with Nguyen Viet Dung, was forced to act as a witness in the trial of Le Dinh Luong on August 16, 2018. At the time of the writing, Hoa did not know that the Deputy Supervisor of the detention center had recently passed away because of an accident. He also encouraged his family to not worry about him because seven years in prison will be nothing to him. He wrote that he can overcome anything because freedom is not free and he is willing to accept sacrifices in exchange for freedom.
Nguyen Van Hoa was on a hunger strike, as reported by Hoa's sister. Hoa is held at An Diem Detention Center and wanted to meet with a priest. He began the strike on February 22. Hoa's sister released a letter, which elaborated on the reasons for the hunger strike, including authorities' refusal to send Hoa's complaint letter regarding the abuse he suffered while being detained. The letter, written February 11, 2019, denounced eight officers who kidnapped Hoa on January 11, 2017 and detained him in Hong Linh Town for nine days. During that time, Hoa was beaten and confessed under duress. In the trial against Le Dinh Luong in August 2018, Hoa was summoned as a witness and was again tortured after refusing to testify against Luong.
Nguyen Van Hoa stopped his hunger strike in March, after 12 days on strike. He originally started the strike to protest abuses against him in custody. It is unknown if the authorities have acted to remedy his grievances. In a letter home, Hoa revealed that other political prisoners helped him through the strike, and he was supported by a US diplomat based in Hanoi.
Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action, calling on Vietnam to release Hoa and two other human rights defenders, Tran Thi Nga and Nguyen Van Oai, unconditionally and immediately.
On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, human rights and digital security organizations issued a joint letter, calling on Vietnam to free young citizen journalist Nguyễn Văn Hóa, who was arrested in January under Art. 88. “With mounting social and environmental challenges, the government of Vietnam should welcome transparency and peaceful dialogue. Repressing citizen journalists is not only a violation of human rights but also a major impediment to Vietnam’s aspirations to become a tech and innovation hub,” the statement said.
Front Line Defenders released an Urgent Appeal for Nguyen Van Hoa, calling on authorities to immediately release him from prison. Download the pdf appeal, here.
Vietnamese Political Prisoners Endure Medical Difficulties, Radio Free Asia, March 6, 2019
Jailed Vietnamese Activist Nguyen Van Hoa Ends Hunger Strike, Radio Free Asia, March 26, 2019
Profile last updated: 2019-05-19 23:32:46