Profile

Ho Dinh Cuong

Current Status: Released - at risk

Photo of Ho Dinh Cuong

Other Names: Hồ Văn Cương, Hồ Đình Cương, Văn Cương

Date of Birth: December 13, 1979

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Artist

Last Known Prison: Xuan Loc prison, Dong Nai province

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Environment
  • Human rights
  • Sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Former Political Prisoner
  • Denial of Adequate Medical Treatment or Supplies
  • Prolonged Incommunicado Detention
  • Harsh Physical and Administrative Conditions
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer

March 2023:

Ho Dinh Cuong was released from prison after completing his four and a half year sentence. The 88 Project spoke briefly with him after his release. He reported that his prison experience was horrific, especially concerning the food. Many prisoners suffer from dental problems believed to be due to a lack of nutrition, yet they receive no dental care. When the pain becomes so unbearable, he said, some people resort to extracting their own teeth with crude devices. Those who complain, or want to file complaints, are prohibited from having a pen and paper. Between August and November 2022, Cuong refused to eat prison food, only consuming food sent by his family, to protest the unfair treatment. Political prisoners in Xuan Loc Prison are kept in 3.5 meter x 7 meter cells, usually with 2-3 persons per cell, with access to a very small yard to exercise. He reports that only those who “confess” to their alleged crimes are allowed to go out to a larger open space. A camera is placed directly above each prisoner’s bed.

Details

Immediate Concerns

March 2023:

Ho Dinh Cuong was released from prison after completing his four and a half year sentence. The 88 Project spoke briefly with him after his release. He reported that his prison experience was horrific, especially concerning the food. Many prisoners suffer from dental problems believed to be due to a lack of nutrition, yet they receive no dental care. When the pain becomes so unbearable, he said, some people resort to extracting their own teeth with crude devices. Those who complain, or want to file complaints, are prohibited from having a pen and paper. Between August and November 2022, Cuong refused to eat prison food, only consuming food sent by his family, to protest the unfair treatment. Political prisoners in Xuan Loc Prison are kept in 3.5 meter x 7 meter cells, usually with 2-3 persons per cell, with access to a very small yard to exercise. He reports that only those who “confess” to their alleged crimes are allowed to go out to a larger open space. A camera is placed directly above each prisoner’s bed.

Background

Ho Dinh Cuong, born in Thua Thien Hue province, lived in Ho Chi Minh city prior to the arrest.

Profile photo source: Facebook Van Cương Ho

History of Activism

Cuong was said to participate in the national demonstrations against the bills on Special Economic Zones and Cybersecurity on June 10, 2018.

He is also a member of Hien Phap (Constitution) group, established on June 16, 2017, with aims to  promote peoples’ understanding of their human rights in the Constitution. 

Cuong and other members planned to call for a peaceful demonstration on September 4, 2018 to raise their voices on social issues, including human rights violations, corruption, territorial disputes, and environmental pollution. However, many Hien Phap members were arrested prior to the scheduled demonstration. 

Sentenced to 4 years 6 months in prison and 2 years probation under Art. 118 (2015 Code). Released March 8, 2023.

September 8, 2018
  • Art. 118 (2015 Code)
Ho Chi Minh city public security, Ho Chi Minh city
Investigation Agency of Ho Chi Minh City Public Security, No.4, Phan Dang Luu Street, Binh Thanh Ward, Ho Chi Minh City (map)
July 31, 2020
The People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City
Dang Dinh Manh
4 years 6 months in prison and 2 years probation
March 8, 2023
March 8, 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
Details of Imprisonment

On September 8, 2018, Cuong was arrested while complying with the Security Investigation Agency’s invitation to answer questions about his relationship with five other activists who had just been arrested. He was charged under Article 118 of the 2015 Penal Code for “disruption of security” and was detained at police station No.4, Phan Dang Luu Street, Ho Chi Minh City.

Cuong was not allowed to meet with his family until August 2, 2019, almost one year after his arrest. His wife said that Cuong’s health was not good because of alleged psychological torture.

October 2019:

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 were those of Ngo Van Dung, Doan Thi HongHoang Thi Thu Vang, Ho Dinh Cuong, and Tran Thanh Phuong. The families also said that they had not received notice on the various extensions of the fives' investigation periods. 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 August 2019.

February 2020:

Eight activists were scheduled face trial by the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on March 10 on charges of "disrupting security" under Article 118 of the 2015 Criminal Code. The eight had been detained without trial for almost a year and a half. Authorities had already previously postponed the trial twice. The group of eight defendants included Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh, Hoang Thi Thu VangDo The HoaHo Dinh CuongTran Thanh PhuongNgo Van DungDoan Thi Hong and Le Quy Loc

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.

January 2021:

The court of appeals upheld the sentences of four activists alleged to be members of the Hien Phap (Constitution) group; they denied the affiliation at trial. They are Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh (eight years in prison); Ngo Van Dung and Le Quy Loc (five years each); and Ho Dinh Cuong (four years and six months). They were charged with “disturbing security”. Unlike the first trial, this time family members were allowed to observe the proceedings, albeit only via a video feed in the next room, due to the presence of the US Consul General in the courtroom.

April 2021:

On April 13, Ho Dinh Cuong was able to call his wife, Do Thi Be, to let her know that he was moved to Xuan Loc Prison in Dong Nai Province. She was allowed to visit him for the first time in 11 months since the pandemic. Be said her husband appeared healthy and was allowed to exercise every morning.

Physical Health History

March 2022:

The wife of Nguyen Ngoc Anh reported on her Facebook that she and the wife of Ho Dinh Cuong went to visit their husbands at Xuan Loc Prison on March 12, 2022. Anh was healthy, but he reconfirmed what Huynh Duc Thanh Binh shared with his mother: that the prisoners in Xuan Loc Prison were suffering from mange and ringworm, but prison officials ignored their repeated complaints.

Actions Taken

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.”

Resources

Second Member of Hiến Pháp Group Charged with “Disruption of Security,” Facing Severe Sentence, Defend the Defenders, October 5, 2018

Nhiều tù nhân lương tâm Nhóm Hiến Pháp được gặp gia đình sau 11 tháng, Saigon Broadcasting Television Network, August 2, 2019

Bắt cóc dân rồi biệt giam, người vợ đã khụy ngã khi C.A cho gặp lại chồng với thân thể tiều tụy, suy nhược, Nha Nam Media, August 6, 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

Vietnam Court Rejects Appeal of ‘Constitution Group’ Protesters, Returning Them to Prison, Radio Free Asia, January 8, 2021

Prison condition update, Facebook post, March 2022

July 31, 2020: trial

July 31, 2020
Investigation Agency of Ho Chi Minh City Public Security, No.4, Phan Dang Luu Street, Binh Thanh Ward, Ho Chi Minh City (map)

  • 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
Details of Imprisonment

On September 8, 2018, Cuong was arrested while complying with the Security Investigation Agency’s invitation to answer questions about his relationship with five other activists who had just been arrested. He was charged under Article 118 of the 2015 Penal Code for “disruption of security” and was detained at police station No.4, Phan Dang Luu Street, Ho Chi Minh City.

Cuong was not allowed to meet with his family until August 2, 2019, almost one year after his arrest. His wife said that Cuong’s health was not good because of alleged psychological torture.

October 2019:

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 were those of Ngo Van Dung, Doan Thi HongHoang Thi Thu Vang, Ho Dinh Cuong, and Tran Thanh Phuong. The families also said that they had not received notice on the various extensions of the fives' investigation periods. 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 August 2019.

February 2020:

Eight activists were scheduled face trial by the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on March 10 on charges of "disrupting security" under Article 118 of the 2015 Criminal Code. The eight had been detained without trial for almost a year and a half. Authorities had already previously postponed the trial twice. The group of eight defendants included Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh, Hoang Thi Thu VangDo The HoaHo Dinh CuongTran Thanh PhuongNgo Van DungDoan Thi Hong and Le Quy Loc

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.

January 2021:

The court of appeals upheld the sentences of four activists alleged to be members of the Hien Phap (Constitution) group; they denied the affiliation at trial. They are Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh (eight years in prison); Ngo Van Dung and Le Quy Loc (five years each); and Ho Dinh Cuong (four years and six months). They were charged with “disturbing security”. Unlike the first trial, this time family members were allowed to observe the proceedings, albeit only via a video feed in the next room, due to the presence of the US Consul General in the courtroom.

April 2021:

On April 13, Ho Dinh Cuong was able to call his wife, Do Thi Be, to let her know that he was moved to Xuan Loc Prison in Dong Nai Province. She was allowed to visit him for the first time in 11 months since the pandemic. Be said her husband appeared healthy and was allowed to exercise every morning.

Physical Health History

March 2022:

The wife of Nguyen Ngoc Anh reported on her Facebook that she and the wife of Ho Dinh Cuong went to visit their husbands at Xuan Loc Prison on March 12, 2022. Anh was healthy, but he reconfirmed what Huynh Duc Thanh Binh shared with his mother: that the prisoners in Xuan Loc Prison were suffering from mange and ringworm, but prison officials ignored their repeated complaints.

Actions Taken

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.”

Resources

Second Member of Hiến Pháp Group Charged with “Disruption of Security,” Facing Severe Sentence, Defend the Defenders, October 5, 2018

Nhiều tù nhân lương tâm Nhóm Hiến Pháp được gặp gia đình sau 11 tháng, Saigon Broadcasting Television Network, August 2, 2019

Bắt cóc dân rồi biệt giam, người vợ đã khụy ngã khi C.A cho gặp lại chồng với thân thể tiều tụy, suy nhược, Nha Nam Media, August 6, 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

Vietnam Court Rejects Appeal of ‘Constitution Group’ Protesters, Returning Them to Prison, Radio Free Asia, January 8, 2021

Prison condition update, Facebook post, March 2022

Profile last updated: 2024-06-13 20:34:06

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