Profile

Vo Thuong Trung

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Vo Thuong Trung

Other Names: Võ Thường Trung, Tìm Tự Do (Facebook nickname)

Date of Birth: February 10, 1976

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Current Prison: Gia Trung prison, Gia Lai province

Areas of Activism:

  • Human rights
  • Sovereignty

February 2020:

Vo Thuong Trung has been transferred to Gia Trung prison in Gia Lai province without his family knowing about it in advance. His wife only learned about the transfer after she went to visit him in prison in Dong Nai province on February 27. The transfer will make it more difficult for his family to visit him, as his wife has to care for their two children; the youngest is only two years old.

Details - Background, History of Activism.

He is a resident of Long Thanh town, Dong Nai province.

Profile photo source: Saigon Broadcasting Network Television

He was said to have participated in national protests over draft legislation in June 2018. He also posted dissenting views on his Facebook account, namely Tim Tu Do, covering the topics of sovereignty and corruption.

Arrested April 25, 2019. Sentenced to 3 years in prison under Art. 118 (2015 Code). Expected Release is April 25, 2022.

April 25, 2019
  • Art. 118 (2015 Code)
Dong Nai province public security, Dong Nai province
Dong Nai province (map)
November 26, 2019
The People’s Court of Dong Nai Province
Nguyen Van Mieng
3 years in prison
April 25, 2022
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of peaceful assembly
  • fair trial

Trung was arrested on April 25, 2019 and contemporarily detained for four months at detention center of Dong Nai province’s public security before the first instance trial. Investigation agency of Dong Nai province accused him of “opposing the people's government” under the charge of Article 113 of the 2015 Penal Code. 

He was said to have connection with others activists such as Nguyen Dinh Khue and Doan Viet Hoan, both arrested by Dong Nai province’s public security under the accusation of “disturbing public order.” His arrest was said to be the authorities’ attempt to prevent a potential demonstration on the occasion of Vietnam’s Reunification Day in late April.  

November 2019:

Six activists were sentenced to a combined 25 years in prison on November 26 in three separate trials. Those activists are Pham Van Diep from Thanh Hoa Province, Nguyen Chi Vung from Bac Lieu Province, and a group of four from Dong Nai Province – Vo Thuong Trung, Doan Viet Hoan, Ngo Xuan Thanh, and Nguyen Dinh Khue. 

Trung, Hoan, Thanh, and Khue were sentenced to up to three years in prison each under Article 118 for “disrupting security," accused of plotting an attack with explosives. 

During the crackdown on the occasion of Vietnam’s Reunification Day on April 30, the four individuals were arrested, detained, and ultimately sentenced to prison. 

According to Facebooker Pham Ngoc, who first shared their news on Facebook, the four Facebookers-- Vo Thuong Trung, Doan Viet Hoan, Ngo Xuan Thanh, and Nguyen Dinh Khue-- often post and share articles on the current national issues and criticize the government on Facebook. They were accused of calling for a demonstration for civil rights and were all arrested on April 25, 2019.

On May 6, 2019, the Investigation Security Agency of Dong Nai Province released an announcement on Khue’s temporary detention. Khue was accused of “contacting, debating with Doan Viet Hoan and others on carrying out a demonstration, planning explosion against the people’s administration under the command of 'Lisa Nguyen' from overseas” and contemporarily detained under Article 118 of the 2015 Penal Code.  Thanh was then reportedly contacted to support on “explosive devices and provoking protesters.” 

On November 26, 2019, the People’s Court of Dong Nai Province sentenced Vo Thuong Trung and Doan Viet Hoan to three years in prison, while Ngo Xuan Thanh and Nguyen Dinh Khue each received a 28-month conviction. All were charged under Article 118 of the 2015 Criminal Code for “disturbing security.” According to the indictment, they were accused of reading articles with anti-regime content on the Internet and planning demonstrations with various methods, including preparing explosions to go off on April 28, 2019. In the plan, Hoan was said to be a leader for a peaceful demonstration, with the duty of creating a “demonstration plan” and uploading 12 videos, with instructions on causing explosions, to social media. Trung was allegedly responsible for buying explosive chemicals, and along with Khue, finding a location for explosions. Thanh, with his knowledge of causing explosions, was allegedly in charge of gathering people for their so-called disruption plan. 

However, according to Khue’s defense counsel, lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng, the court could not provide evidence to prove that they were planning to use explosive materials since police failed to find any material to make explosive devices and confiscated their phones instead. Mieng also claimed that four defendants only wanted to protest against a price hike in electricity and gas, as well as against the bill on Special Economic Zones, with the fear that Vietnam would be dependent on Chinese investment. Lawyer Mieng asserts that beside messages and their online communication concerning the demonstration, no evidence about the alleged bombing could be found. He notes that the men were arrested on April 25, only three days before the scheduled crime. If they had intended to do anything with bombing and destroying properties, the public security force would have at least found some evidence such as wire, explosive materials, and related devices. The fact that they could find nothing means that the accusation is very weak, if not unfounded.

All six bloggers and activists were merely exercising their human rights, which are protected by both domestic law and international treaties.

Profile last updated: 2020-03-04 23:59:18

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