Profile

Pham Chi Thanh

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Pham Chi Thanh

Other Names: Phạm Chí Thành

Date of Birth: August 2, 1952

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Journalist

Last Known Prison: Hoa Lo Prison

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Prolonged Incommunicado Detention
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer

July 2021:

Novelist Pham Thanh, real name Pham Chi Thanh, 69, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. He wrote a book that was deemed critical of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. His family was not allowed to attend the “open trial” on July 9 in Hanoi.

Details

Immediate Concerns

July 2021:

Novelist Pham Thanh, real name Pham Chi Thanh, 69, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. He wrote a book that was deemed critical of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. His family was not allowed to attend the “open trial” on July 9 in Hanoi.

Background

Pham Chi Thanh was born in Dinh Binh, Thieu Yen, Thanh Hoa Province, and now lives and works in the Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi. He was a reporter at the Voice of Vietnam Radio (VOV). Thanh briefly held the position of deputy director of The Voice of Vietnam newspaper.

Profile photo source: BBC Vietnamese

History of Activism

Thanh has shown a desire for democracy since he was working for Voice of Vietnam. His outspoken nature resulted in him being demoted from the position of deputy director of Voice of Vietnam newspaper to a content checker, as they accused him of defaming and distorting the state and Party policies. 

In 2012, he resigned from the position and has since actively been involved in the democratization movement in Vietnam. In the same year, Thanh created his blog - Ba Dam Xoe, which became one of his most important tools to communicate with the public and criticize the government. 

In 2014, Thanh and Pham Chi Dung established the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam. He has served as the vice president of the association and supported many other independent grassroots organizations in Vietnam, such as No - U, Duong Noi land petitioners, etc. 

Since 2016, Thanh has self-published several books criticizing conditions in Vietnam, including “Cò hồn Xã nghĩa” (The Hungry Ghost of Socialism), “Nền Kinh tế thị trường XHCN - Xuống hố cả lũ” (The Socialist Market Economy of Self-Gravediggers), and most notably a book published in 2019 directly criticizing General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, entitled “"Nguyễn Phú Trọng: Thế Thiên Hành Đạo Hay Đại Nghịch Bất Đạo.”

Sentenced to 5 years 6 months in prison under Art. 117 (2015 Code). Expected Release is November 21, 2025.

  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Hanoi city public security, Hanoi
His apartment in Hanoi (map)
July 9, 2021
The People's Court of Hanoi, Hanoi
Ha Huy Son
5 years 6 months in prison
November 21, 2025
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of association
  • fair trial
Human Rights Watch
Details of Imprisonment

On the morning of May 21, 2020, around 40 officers of Hanoi public security forces raided Pham Chi Thanh’s apartment in Hanoi. They read an arrest warrant to the family and searched the home for an hour. The public security subsequently arrested Thanh and confiscated some of his personal items, including two computers, a printer, several manuscripts and documents. 

During the search, the officers temporarily confiscated the phones of his wife (Nguyen Thi Nghiem) and other members of the family. The public security forces also refused to give the family copies of the arrest warrant and search warrant.

September 2020:

Two members of the unsanctioned Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) had their pre-trial detentions extended without their families being informed. Pham Chi Thanh, arrested in May, had his detention extended by four months on charges of engaging in “anti-state propaganda”. The organization’s vice-president, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, also arrested in May and similarly charged, may also have had his detention extended without notice.

December 2020:

Author and veteran journalist Pham Chi Thanh, who has been detained at Hoa Lo Prison since his arrest in May, was reportedly moved to a mental health facility in late November. Authorities reported he was moved to the Central Institute of Forensic Psychiatry for an evaluation but did not provide specific details about the transfer. Thanh’s wife said of the move: “I’ve been living with him for years, I know that his mental health is normal. He doesn’t have a problem.” She has not been allowed to see or speak with him since he was moved to the hospital.

January 2021:

Pham Thanh was suddenly moved from a medical facility back to Hoa Lo Prison on New Year’s Day without notice, his wife said.

May 2021: 

Journalist Pham Chi Thanh, aka Pham Thanh, was finally allowed to see a lawyer for the first time since his arrest in May 2020. According to attorney Ha Huy Son, the 69-year-old was in good health. But his family said he had earlier fallen and hit his head on the cement floor, which required stitches. 

June 2021:

The trial for journalist and blogger Pham Chi Thanh will take place on July 9. According to his lawyer Ha Huy Son, the trial will be conducted by Hanoi People’s Court and will be open to the public. He is being charged with “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117, which could carry a penalty of seven  to 12 years in prison.

July 2021:

Novelist Pham Thanh, real name Pham Chi Thanh, 69, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. He wrote a book that was deemed critical of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. His family was not allowed to attend the “open trial” on July 9 in Hanoi.

Actions Taken

July 2021:

Human Rights Watch called for the release of novelist Pham Chi Thanh, who has just been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for his writings. “Pham Chi Thanh is among a long list of Vietnamese dissidents prosecuted for nothing more than their written words,” said John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch.

Resources

Nhà văn bất đồng chính kiến Phạm Thành bị bắt giam ngay trước Đại hội đảng 13, RFA Vietnamese, May 21, 2020

Cập nhật về vụ bắt giữ nhà báo Phạm Thành, Thoibao.de, May 21, 2020

Nhà văn Phạm Thành bị đưa vào viện tâm thần, gia đình ‘lo ngại’, Voice of America Vietnamese, December 4, 2020

Thông tin về nhà báo, nhà văn Phạm Thành, Kien Trung Facebook, January 1, 2021

Prisoner of Conscience, Political Blogger Pham Thanh Allowed to Meet Lawyer to Prepare for Defense, Defend the Defenders, May 28, 2021

Gia đình ông Phạm Thành: Lẽ ra ông Nguyễn Phú Trọng phải ra tòa đối chất, VOA Vietnamese, July 9, 2021

Vietnam: Free Prominent Novelist, Human Rights Watch, July 8, 2021

July 9, 2021: trial

July 9, 2021
His apartment in Hanoi (map)

  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of association
  • fair trial
Human Rights Watch
Details of Imprisonment

On the morning of May 21, 2020, around 40 officers of Hanoi public security forces raided Pham Chi Thanh’s apartment in Hanoi. They read an arrest warrant to the family and searched the home for an hour. The public security subsequently arrested Thanh and confiscated some of his personal items, including two computers, a printer, several manuscripts and documents. 

During the search, the officers temporarily confiscated the phones of his wife (Nguyen Thi Nghiem) and other members of the family. The public security forces also refused to give the family copies of the arrest warrant and search warrant.

September 2020:

Two members of the unsanctioned Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) had their pre-trial detentions extended without their families being informed. Pham Chi Thanh, arrested in May, had his detention extended by four months on charges of engaging in “anti-state propaganda”. The organization’s vice-president, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, also arrested in May and similarly charged, may also have had his detention extended without notice.

December 2020:

Author and veteran journalist Pham Chi Thanh, who has been detained at Hoa Lo Prison since his arrest in May, was reportedly moved to a mental health facility in late November. Authorities reported he was moved to the Central Institute of Forensic Psychiatry for an evaluation but did not provide specific details about the transfer. Thanh’s wife said of the move: “I’ve been living with him for years, I know that his mental health is normal. He doesn’t have a problem.” She has not been allowed to see or speak with him since he was moved to the hospital.

January 2021:

Pham Thanh was suddenly moved from a medical facility back to Hoa Lo Prison on New Year’s Day without notice, his wife said.

May 2021: 

Journalist Pham Chi Thanh, aka Pham Thanh, was finally allowed to see a lawyer for the first time since his arrest in May 2020. According to attorney Ha Huy Son, the 69-year-old was in good health. But his family said he had earlier fallen and hit his head on the cement floor, which required stitches. 

June 2021:

The trial for journalist and blogger Pham Chi Thanh will take place on July 9. According to his lawyer Ha Huy Son, the trial will be conducted by Hanoi People’s Court and will be open to the public. He is being charged with “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117, which could carry a penalty of seven  to 12 years in prison.

July 2021:

Novelist Pham Thanh, real name Pham Chi Thanh, 69, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. He wrote a book that was deemed critical of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. His family was not allowed to attend the “open trial” on July 9 in Hanoi.

Actions Taken

July 2021:

Human Rights Watch called for the release of novelist Pham Chi Thanh, who has just been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for his writings. “Pham Chi Thanh is among a long list of Vietnamese dissidents prosecuted for nothing more than their written words,” said John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch.

Resources

Nhà văn bất đồng chính kiến Phạm Thành bị bắt giam ngay trước Đại hội đảng 13, RFA Vietnamese, May 21, 2020

Cập nhật về vụ bắt giữ nhà báo Phạm Thành, Thoibao.de, May 21, 2020

Nhà văn Phạm Thành bị đưa vào viện tâm thần, gia đình ‘lo ngại’, Voice of America Vietnamese, December 4, 2020

Thông tin về nhà báo, nhà văn Phạm Thành, Kien Trung Facebook, January 1, 2021

Prisoner of Conscience, Political Blogger Pham Thanh Allowed to Meet Lawyer to Prepare for Defense, Defend the Defenders, May 28, 2021

Gia đình ông Phạm Thành: Lẽ ra ông Nguyễn Phú Trọng phải ra tòa đối chất, VOA Vietnamese, July 9, 2021

Vietnam: Free Prominent Novelist, Human Rights Watch, July 8, 2021

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

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