Profile

Dang Dang Phuoc

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Dang Dang Phuoc

Other Names: Đặng Đăng Phước, Đặng Phước

Date of Birth: August 20, 1963

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Teaching professional

Last Known Prison: Xuan Phuoc prison, Phu Yen province

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Freedom of expression
  • Sovereignty

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Solitary Confinement
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer
  • Online commentator

May 2024:

Le Thi Ha, the wife of music teacher Dang Dang Phuoc, told Project88 that before her visit to Xuan Phuoc Prison ended on May 9, Phuoc gave her a small piece of paper which he said contained the phone number of the family of a fellow prisoner. However, a guard saw the piece of paper, took it away from him, and then made a report against Hung for violating prison rules. When Ha asked the guard to open up the piece of paper so that everyone could see what was actually written there, they refused. Hung was taken away, and the letter was kept as “evidence.”

Le Thi Ha told Project88 that May 9 was the longest visit since he was transferred there from temporary detention. The other visits before lasted only 10-15 minutes, even though by law prisoners are allowed one hour of visitation a month. When she asked prison officials about it, they just gave her one excuse or another. After the visit, when Phuoc tried to hand her a piece of paper containing the phone number of a fellow prisoner’s family, he was “disciplined for breaking prison rules” by being put in isolation for 10 days and can now only have visits every two months “until he’s satisfactorily re-educated,” according to an official notice signed on May 10, 2024, which Ha was later given.

April 2024:

In a call with Dang Dang Phuoc on April 27, his wife, Le Thi Ha, learned that he had sent two letters home, one for his parents and one for her. Strangely, only the one written to his parents had been received. Also, Phuoc was not allowed to receive the arrowroot starch she sent because, according to prison regulations, all forms of powder are prohibited. 

Earlier in the month:

Dang Dang Phuoc was allowed to write a short letter to his father. Phuoc’s wife, Le Thi Ha, said he had to go to the common area to write the letter, with a prison guard looking over his shoulder. Phuoc wrote in the letter that he should be proud of Phuoc because “I never did anything wrong, I only chose to help speed up the process of democratization, knowing full well what the sacrifices might be.” 

Earlier in the month:

Le Thi Ha, Dang Dang Phuoc's wife, told Project88 that she received a decision by the head of Daklak’s School of Pedagogy to “discipline” the music teacher because he’s convicted of “anti-state propaganda” and is serving an 8-year prison sentence. On the same day that decision was signed (12/21/2023), another decision by the Bureau of Education and Training of Dak Lak was also issued to fire him; however, Le Thi Ha said she only received the latter a few days ago. She added that Phuoc had been receiving only half of his salary between the time he was arrested (Sep. 2022) to Dec. 2023; after Jan. 2024, everything was terminated. On March 25, Ha also received a notification that Phuoc’s electronic devices and data related to the case will be destroyed, and the rest will be returned to her.

March 2024:

Dang Dang Phuoc’s wife, Le Thi Ha, and two of his siblings visited him on March 17. It was the first time in 18 months the two siblings had seen him, since they were not allowed inside the courtroom when he was tried. Phuoc said that political prisoners are not permitted to have pen and paper in their cell but have to go to the common room and borrow pen and paper there, which they have to request ahead of time. Phuoc said that despite this “unfair treatment,” he still managed to write two letters, which he gave to prison officials for “review;” he said he had not heard back from the officials.  

February 2024:

Dang Dang Phuoc’s wife visited him on Feb. 4 and reported that Phuoc “looked healthy and was moving about swiftly.” It took a 14 hour round trip for Ha to see her husband for just 24 minutes. During their brief conversation, Ha learned that the following items could not be sent from home: soap bars; cashews, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and watermelon seeds (traditional Tet snacks).

December 2023:

Music teacher Dang Dang Phuoc’s wife told RFA that the police have been spying on her. “Neighbors secretly told me that local police installed cameras on Dec. 15. The camera was installed on the neighbor’s porch across from my house and pointed directly at my house.” 

***

Dang Dang Phuoc has been stripped of his job by the Dak Lak College of Pedagogy. Phuoc, 60, was convicted last June of spreading “anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to eight years in prison. His wife said that since Phuoc’s arrest, the school had been slashing his monthly pay in half; the latest decision will make their already dire economic situation even worse.

September 2023:

As expected, Dang Dang Phuoc’s appeal trial on September 26 resulted in no change to his sentence of eight years in prison.

June 2023:

On June 6, Dang Dang Phuoc, a music teacher from Dak Lak Province, was convicted of spreading “anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to eight years in prison and four years of probation.

Details

Immediate Concerns

July 2024:

Dang Dang Phuoc’s wife, Le Thi Ha, visited him at Xuan Phuoc Prison in early July. Ha told Project88 she was totally shocked to see how thin and gaunt he was. According to Phuoc, after the visit on May 9, he was put in isolation and shackled on the right leg. However, after only two days his ankle was swollen so badly that he had to repeatedly request to have it looked at by the medical staff. They finally relented and moved the shackle to his left leg. During the 10-day ordeal, Phuoc could only wear his shorts. He was given one small bowl of plain rice per meal plus a 1.5 liter can of water. Phuoc said he did not eat the rice. He used the water for washing his face and body, tearing off the sleeves and pockets on his shirt, which the guards had left nearby, to use as towels. After ten days, Phuoc said he could not walk out of the isolation cell on his own but had to be helped. He said he has filed at least two complaints, on June 16 and 21, about the incident but has not received any official response. By the time he was allowed back to his cell, much of the food supplies Ha had sent him had spoiled and were not edible.

June 2024:

Dang Dang Phuoc was able to call home for the first time in two months. His wife, Le Thi Ha, said that in the June 12 call, her husband gave more details about why he was shackled for 10 days after her visit on May 9. Before she left the visiting room that day, he had given her a small piece of paper containing the phone number of an inmate who’d just been transferred to Xuan Phuoc Prison, to be passed to his family so they’d know where he was. In Vietnam, families rarely are notified when a prisoner is transferred to a new prison facility. Immediately afterwards, Phuoc was taken to the office and ordered to write a “confession letter”; in it, he said he knew his action was against prison rules but thought it was only a minor infraction. The warden allegedly took a vote from all of Phuoc’s cellmates (about 26 people), and everyone agreed that his action only warranted a minor disciplinary response. Nevertheless, Phuoc was still put in shackles and kept in isolation. During those 10 days, Phuoc refused to eat to protest the unfair treatment and lost 10 kg., according to his wife.

Earlier in the month:

Phuoc's wife, Le Thi Ha, reported that Phuoc still was not permitted to call home in the month of May and is now only allowed one visit every two months instead of every month. After their most recent visit on May 9, when Phuoc tried to hand Ha a piece of paper containing the phone number of a fellow prisoner’s family, he was “disciplined for breaking prison rules” by being put in isolation for 10 days then had his visits reduced, according to an official notice given to Ha signed on May 10, 2024. Ha sent a letter to the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme Procuracy of Vietnam, the Procuracy of Phu Yen Province, and the head of Xuan Phuoc Prison in Phu Yen demanding to know the reason for this violation of a prisoner’s rights. In the letter, Ha said that if she didn't get an explanation from Xuan Phuoc within five days as to why Phuoc was being disciplined, she would send a second letter.

May 2024:

Le Thi Ha, the wife of music teacher Dang Dang Phuoc, told Project88 that before her visit to Xuan Phuoc Prison ended on May 9, Phuoc gave her a small piece of paper which he said contained the phone number of the family of a fellow prisoner. However, a guard saw the piece of paper, took it away from him, and then made a report against Hung for violating prison rules. When Ha asked the guard to open up the piece of paper so that everyone could see what was actually written there, they refused. Hung was taken away, and the letter was kept as “evidence.”

Le Thi Ha told Project88 that May 9 was the longest visit since he was transferred there from temporary detention. The other visits before lasted only 10-15 minutes, even though by law prisoners are allowed one hour of visitation a month. When she asked prison officials about it, they just gave her one excuse or another. 

April 2024:

In a call with Dang Dang Phuoc on April 27, his wife, Le Thi Ha, learned that he had sent two letters home, one for his parents and one for her. Strangely, only the one written to his parents had been received. Also, Phuoc was not allowed to receive the arrowroot starch she sent because, according to prison regulations, all forms of powder are prohibited. 

Earlier in the month:

Dang Dang Phuoc was allowed to write a short letter to his father. Phuoc’s wife, Le Thi Ha, said he had to go to the common area to write the letter, with a prison guard looking over his shoulder. Phuoc wrote in the letter that he should be proud of Phuoc because “I never did anything wrong, I only chose to help speed up the process of democratization, knowing full well what the sacrifices might be.” 

Earlier in the month:

Le Thi Ha, Dang Dang Phuoc's wife, told Project88 that she received a decision by the head of Daklak’s School of Pedagogy to “discipline” the music teacher because he’s convicted of “anti-state propaganda” and is serving an 8-year prison sentence. On the same day that decision was signed (12/21/2023), another decision by the Bureau of Education and Training of Dak Lak was also issued to fire him; however, Le Thi Ha said she only received the latter a few days ago. She added that Phuoc had been receiving only half of his salary between the time he was arrested (Sep. 2022) to Dec. 2023; after Jan. 2024, everything was terminated. On March 25, Ha also received a notification that Phuoc’s electronic devices and data related to the case will be destroyed, and the rest will be returned to her.

March 2024:

Dang Dang Phuoc’s wife, Le Thi Ha, and two of his siblings visited him on March 17. It was the first time in 18 months the two siblings had seen him, since they were not allowed inside the courtroom when he was tried. Phuoc said that political prisoners are not permitted to have pen and paper in their cell but have to go to the common room and borrow pen and paper there, which they have to request ahead of time. Phuoc said that despite this “unfair treatment,” he still managed to write two letters, which he gave to prison officials for “review;” he said he had not heard back from the officials.  

February 2024:

Dang Dang Phuoc’s wife visited him on Feb. 4 and reported that Phuoc “looked healthy and was moving about swiftly.” It took a 14 hour round trip for Ha to see her husband for just 24 minutes. During their brief conversation, Ha learned that the following items could not be sent from home: soap bars; cashews, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and watermelon seeds (traditional Tet snacks).

December 2023:

Music teacher Dang Dang Phuoc’s wife told RFA that the police have been spying on her. “Neighbors secretly told me that local police installed cameras on Dec. 15. The camera was installed on the neighbor’s porch across from my house and pointed directly at my house.” 

***

Dang Dang Phuoc has been stripped of his job by the Dak Lak College of Pedagogy. Phuoc, 60, was convicted last June of spreading “anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to eight years in prison. His wife said that since Phuoc’s arrest, the school had been slashing his monthly pay in half; the latest decision will make their already dire economic situation even worse.

September 2023:

As expected, Dang Dang Phuoc’s appeal trial on September 26 resulted in no change to his sentence of eight years in prison.

June 2023:

On June 6, Dang Dang Phuoc, a music teacher from Dak Lak Province, was convicted of spreading “anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to eight years in prison and four years of probation.

Background

Dang Dang Phuoc is a music lecturer at the Dak Lak College of Pedagogy, who lives and works in Buon Me Thuot City, Dak Lak Province. Phuoc is a critic who frequently shared his views on human rights abuses, corruption, education and other social political issues in Vietnam via his Facebook accounts and blog. His two Facebook accounts have more than 8,000 followers in total. Also, Phuoc runs a blog called Musical Library with more than 2.1 million visits and more than 3.5 million views, sharing his knowledge about music, education, and his political views.

Profile photo source: Dang Phuoc's Facebook

History of Activism

Due to his online activism, Phuoc has been placed in the sights of the government for years. On July 22, 2022, he was summoned by the Dak Lak Department of Information and Communication to discuss posts on his Facebook accounts. Phuoc complied with the summons, went to the department and got home safely after the meeting.

Family Situation

July 2023:

Ha Le, Phuoc's wife, said she had received numerous summons from the Dak Lak police, which she called a form of harassment.

March 2024:

Ha Le reported to Project88 that on March 13, she received an invitation from the Dak Lak Provincial Police to answer questions related to her Facebook use. On March 14, she was questioned by them and returned home the same day.

June 2024:

Phuoc's wife, Ha Le, received a summons from Phu Yen provincial police (200Km away from her home) to appear “in person” on June 7 to resolve the issues she cited in the letter she wrote to them on June 2, asking why her husband had been disciplined. Ha said it seemed absurd that they could not simply respond to her by a letter like they’d done many times before instead of requiring her to travel such a long distance.

July 22, 2022: summoned for questioning related to Facebook posts

July 22, 2022
08 Ly Thai To Street, Buon Me Thuot City (map)

On July 22, 2022, Phuoc posted on his Facebook account that he complied with the Dak Lak Department of Information and Communication summons and also shared his experience about the working session with representatives of the department. 

According to Phuoc, the department representatives asked him about three things: (1) Was he the owner of two Facebook accounts? (2) Had he posted all the articles and videos on his accounts? and (3) The two Facebook posts on his account called “The Uncle gave gifts to beautiful girls," and “Arguments by the Dong Lao region."

For questions (1) and (2), Phuoc answered that he created his first Facebook account in 2009, and that it was later hacked. Hence, he did not use that account anymore. He said he then signed up for his second Facebook account, but it had before been hacked; he claimed he could not control it. Phuoc confirmed that live-streamed videos on the second Facebook were posted by himself, while he did not take credit for articles and other content on the page. 


For question (3), Phuoc affirmed that there were two mentioned posts on the Facebook timeline, but he was not the writer and he does not know how to remove them due to his limited IT skills. The department representatives concluded that the two posts had content that violated Article 5.1 of “Providing false information, slandering or damaging the reputation of organizations or dignity of individuals” and Article 26.4 of Decree 72/2013 NĐCP, and asked Phuoc to remove them. However, Phuoc told them that he did not know how to do that.

Sentenced to 8 years in prison and 4 years probation under Art. 117 (2015 Code). Expected Release is September 8, 2030.

  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Dak Lak province public security, Dak Lak province
Tan Loi Ward, Buon Me Thuot City (map)
June 6, 2023
  • Le Dinh Viet
  • Nguyen Van Mieng
8 years in prison and 4 years probation
September 8, 2030

Details of Imprisonment

On September 8, 2022, state media reported that Dak Lak provincial public security arrested Dang Dang Phuoc. He is charged with “storing, making, and posting online materials that propagandize, distort, and defame the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code. 

According to state media, from 2019 onwards, Phuoc had regularly posted many articles and videos on his Facebook accounts, which the government alleged included distorting and anti-State content. The authorities added that although he was repeatedly lectured and warned by the local authorities, he published more extreme posts. Noticeably, his most recent post was about activist Bui Tuan Lam, who was arrested the day before Phuoc was arrested. 

A close friend of Phuoc (who wished to remain anonymous due to security concerns) told RFA that  “Phuoc was arrested around 6 am when he was doing morning exercises near his house. He was then escorted home and his house was searched for hours.” 

On September 14, the Security Investigation Agency of Dak Lak province’s Police Department sent Phuoc’s family a notice issued two days earlier which stated: “Dang Dang Phuoc did not ask for a defense [lawyer] but [chose to] protect his own interests during the investigation process.” His wife, Le Thi Ha, told the media that she doesn’t believe the contents of the notice as “My husband told me to hire a lawyer for him before he was arrested,” she explained.

April 2023:

On April 11, a lawyer for Dang Dang Phuoc confirmed that the investigation into his client had been completed. Phuoc, a music teacher from Dak Lak Province, was arrested in September 2022 and charged with “anti-state propaganda.” His wife Ha Le said on her Facebook page that Phuoc’s lawyer, Le Xuan Anh Phuc, had met with her husband and reported that he was in good spirits, and that his health was normal.

May 2023:

Ha Le, Phuoc's wife, posted on her Facebook page that she was able to visit her husband in prison on May 2. He told her that the Procuracy has finished its investigation and has issued an indictment. Phuoc is charged with disseminating “anti-State propaganda.” He said his health has been getting better since he was moved from Section A1 to T1, allowing him to have more sunshine. It is unclear why he was moved to a new prison section or why the two sections differ.

Physical Health History

According to his wife, Le Thi Ha, Phuoc was healthy before his arrest.

Mental Health History

Phuoc has no mental health issues, as confirmed to The 88 Project by his wife.

Resources

Giảng viên âm nhạc bị bắt với cáo buộc “Tuyên truyền chống Nhà nước”, RFA Vietnamese, September 8, 2022.

Khởi tố, bắt tạm giam đối tượng sử dụng mạng xã hội để chống Nhà nước, Vietnam Plus, September 8, 2022. 

Phê chuẩn khởi tố, bắt tạm giam đối tượng xuyên tạc chống phá Nhà nước, Bao Ve Phap Luat, September 8, 2022.

Giảng viên bị bắt với cáo buộc chống phá Nhà nước, VNExpress, September 8, 2022.

Gia đình nghi ngờ việc thầy giáo Đặng Đăng Phước từ chối luật sư, RFA Vietnamese, October 4, 2022.

Vietnamese dissidents, families filmed by the police, RFA, Dec. 19, 2023

Ha Le's April 2023 Facebook post

Le Dinh Viet's Facebook post announcing the trial verdict

Trường buộc giảng viên âm nhạc Đặng Đăng Phước thôi việc ba tháng sau toà phúc thẩm, RFA Vietnamese, Dec. 29, 2023

Interview with the family, Feb., March, April, May, June 2024

June 6, 2023: trial

June 6, 2023
Tan Loi Ward, Buon Me Thuot City (map)

Details of Imprisonment

On September 8, 2022, state media reported that Dak Lak provincial public security arrested Dang Dang Phuoc. He is charged with “storing, making, and posting online materials that propagandize, distort, and defame the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code. 

According to state media, from 2019 onwards, Phuoc had regularly posted many articles and videos on his Facebook accounts, which the government alleged included distorting and anti-State content. The authorities added that although he was repeatedly lectured and warned by the local authorities, he published more extreme posts. Noticeably, his most recent post was about activist Bui Tuan Lam, who was arrested the day before Phuoc was arrested. 

A close friend of Phuoc (who wished to remain anonymous due to security concerns) told RFA that  “Phuoc was arrested around 6 am when he was doing morning exercises near his house. He was then escorted home and his house was searched for hours.” 

On September 14, the Security Investigation Agency of Dak Lak province’s Police Department sent Phuoc’s family a notice issued two days earlier which stated: “Dang Dang Phuoc did not ask for a defense [lawyer] but [chose to] protect his own interests during the investigation process.” His wife, Le Thi Ha, told the media that she doesn’t believe the contents of the notice as “My husband told me to hire a lawyer for him before he was arrested,” she explained.

April 2023:

On April 11, a lawyer for Dang Dang Phuoc confirmed that the investigation into his client had been completed. Phuoc, a music teacher from Dak Lak Province, was arrested in September 2022 and charged with “anti-state propaganda.” His wife Ha Le said on her Facebook page that Phuoc’s lawyer, Le Xuan Anh Phuc, had met with her husband and reported that he was in good spirits, and that his health was normal.

May 2023:

Ha Le, Phuoc's wife, posted on her Facebook page that she was able to visit her husband in prison on May 2. He told her that the Procuracy has finished its investigation and has issued an indictment. Phuoc is charged with disseminating “anti-State propaganda.” He said his health has been getting better since he was moved from Section A1 to T1, allowing him to have more sunshine. It is unclear why he was moved to a new prison section or why the two sections differ.

Physical Health History

According to his wife, Le Thi Ha, Phuoc was healthy before his arrest.

Mental Health History

Phuoc has no mental health issues, as confirmed to The 88 Project by his wife.

Resources

Giảng viên âm nhạc bị bắt với cáo buộc “Tuyên truyền chống Nhà nước”, RFA Vietnamese, September 8, 2022.

Khởi tố, bắt tạm giam đối tượng sử dụng mạng xã hội để chống Nhà nước, Vietnam Plus, September 8, 2022. 

Phê chuẩn khởi tố, bắt tạm giam đối tượng xuyên tạc chống phá Nhà nước, Bao Ve Phap Luat, September 8, 2022.

Giảng viên bị bắt với cáo buộc chống phá Nhà nước, VNExpress, September 8, 2022.

Gia đình nghi ngờ việc thầy giáo Đặng Đăng Phước từ chối luật sư, RFA Vietnamese, October 4, 2022.

Vietnamese dissidents, families filmed by the police, RFA, Dec. 19, 2023

Ha Le's April 2023 Facebook post

Le Dinh Viet's Facebook post announcing the trial verdict

Trường buộc giảng viên âm nhạc Đặng Đăng Phước thôi việc ba tháng sau toà phúc thẩm, RFA Vietnamese, Dec. 29, 2023

Interview with the family, Feb., March, April, May, June 2024

Profile last updated: 2024-07-15 16:05:43

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