Nguyen Son Lo

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Nguyen Son Lo

Other Names: Nguyễn Sơn Lộ/Minh Đường

Date of Birth: 1948

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: NGO worker

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Freedom of expression
  • Human rights
  • Sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

July 2023:

Nguyen Son Lo, 74, former director of SENA (Southeast and North Asia) Institute of Research and Development, has been sentenced to three years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms” (Article 331) and another two years for “abusing official position while conducting government business” (Article 356). Lo is a decorated veteran with a Ph.D. in physics. He has written a number of books advising the government on how to improve the economy. It appears that Lo’s conviction is an attempt to silence anti-corruption voices. According to RFA: “On July 4 [2022], the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations issued a decision to suspend the operations of the institute and take steps to abolish it, saying its establishment and operations violated regulations.”

February 2023:

Nguyen Son Lo, the 74-year-old former head of the Southeast and North Asia (SENA) Institute for Research and Development, was arrested on February 2 and charged with “abusing democratic freedoms.” Last July, the Procuracy decided to put Son Lo under house arrest and search his home. Hanoi police now say he has violated the terms of his probation but did not provide further details. The 88 Project is investigating the reasons for his arrest

Details - Background, History of Activism.

Nguyen Son Lo, from Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi, is the former director of the Institute of Technology Research and Development SENA.

SENA used to take part in petitioning recommendations on amending and improving the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) and the Constitution.

An open letter signed by Nguyen Son Lo as the director of SENA in 2015 and sent to the Politburo, 12th Party Congress and other members of Vietnamese Communist Party mentioned recommended changes to the Communist Party, the state, and diplomatic policy. Among these were changing the name of Communist Party; changing the name of country (recommending it not be called the Socialist Republic anymore); amending the Constitution; promulgating and completing the legal system; building the government with the independence of three branches of power (legislative, judicial, and executive); changing the National Assembly elections; and gradually distancing Vietnam from China in regards to economics, politics and society, etc.

Nguyen Son Lo also wrote books such as “Vietnam nhat dinh phat trien” (Vietnam definitely develops) in 2002,“Viet Nam – Thay doi và Hanh phuc” (Vietnam - Change and Happiness) in 2009, “Viet Nam the ky 21 – Niem tin, Chinh the, Con nguoi” (Vietnam in 21st Century - Faith, Political Regime, People) in 2018 and 2019, etc. to give policy recommendations in the fields of economics and culture, which were sent to the state leaders.

From 2009 to 2013, Nguyen Son Lo lodged complaints against the decision of Hanoi People’s Committee on reclaiming the headquarters of SENA in order to expand the headquarters for Ba Dinh district’s Public Security office.

On July 16, 2022, a seminar on Ukrainian culture was organized at a meeting room of SENA. Allegedly, the seminar was interrupted by electricity cuts at the meeting venue.

Arrested July 27, 2022. Sentenced to 5 years in prison under Art. 356 (2015 Code), Art. 331 (2015 Code). Expected Release is July 27, 2027.

July 27, 2022
  • Art. 356 (2015 Code)
  • Art. 331 (2015 Code)
Ministry of Public Security
Hai Ba Trung District (map)
July 26, 2023
The People's Court of Hanoi, Hanoi
5 years in prison
July 27, 2027
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial

On 4 July 2022, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) issued a decision to suspend operations of the Institute of Technology Research and Development SENA in order to proceed with procedures on its dissolution. The reason given was that this Institute violated the regulations of operation registration. Since 2005, SENA has not paid rent to the state and has not made the declaration of the use and management of house and land according to Decision No. 09/2007/TTg of the Prime Minister. In 2007, SENA on their own signed agreements under the form of service contracts with different foreign organizations for renting out a part of their space. This was considered a violation of Article 5.2, Decision No. 09/2007/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister dated January 19, 2007 and Article 6 of Law on Management and Use of State Property No.09/2008/QH12 dated June 12, 2008. 

On July 27, 2022, Lieutenant General To An Xo, the Spokesperson and the Chief of the Ministry of Public Security Secretariat, declared that the Investigation Security Agency of the Ministry of Public Security had issued a decision on filing charges against Nguyen Son Lo. In addition, the Security Investigation Agency also proceeded with searching his residence and workplace and issued a decision on residential confinement and exit restriction. Lo was put under house arrest and under travel restrictions but not detained in a detention center (update: he was later taken into custody in February 2023).

One observation on the potential reason for the charge against Lo is that from 2009 to 2013, Nguyen Son Lo, as the director of SENA, lodged complaints against the decision of Hanoi People’s Committee on reclaiming the headquarters of SENA to expand the headquarters of Ba Dinh district’s Public Security. Those complaints were all rejected, but Lo had continued to follow the case.  The decision on reclaiming the land SENA sits on, which occupies a sought after location, has still not been implemented.

Profile last updated: 2023-08-03 00:50:31

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