Featured Image: Doan Khanh Vinh Quang entering the court house, Source: Vietnam News Agency via AP Thanh Sang
Greetings from The 88 Project! We are bringing you news, analysis, and actions regarding human rights and civil society in Vietnam during the week of September 24-30. From September 22-27, four activists from Can Tho province were tried for their activities on Facebook and sentenced to prison terms in a climate of increased censorship of online activities in Vietnam after several massive national protests in June. All were tried under the charges of “abusing democratic freedoms” for posting social and political commentary online. The four are: Nguyen Hong Nguyen, Truong Dinh Khang, Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, and Bui Manh Dong. Nguyen was sentenced to two years, Khang to one, Quang to 27 months, and Dong to 30 months. All of this comes just days before the long-awaited trial of activist Luu Van Vinh and four co-defendants on October 5. The five have been in pre-trial detention for almost two years. In addition, the state has finally confirmed the arrests of nine members of a constitutional rights group; they were arrested in early September and will now await trial in detention. In prison, Mother Mushroom has still not fully recovered from her July 2018 hunger strike, and labor rights activist Tran Thi Nga was denied a visit from her family. Political prisoner Nguyen Nam Phong says he was beaten multiple times in detention and is in poor health from prison labor. This week, security officers surrounded activist Dung Truong in his home. Also this week, we highlight the case of political activist Nguyen Viet Dung, founder of the Vietnam Republican Party, who was kidnapped and arrested on September 27, 2017. He is now serving six years in prison. In the news and analysis section, read one activist’s opinion about Vietnam’s first female president and commentary on the recent string of arrests of Facebook users. Finally, watch the preview clip from our new video interview series with female activists and former political prisoners! Stay tuned for the first full-length interview. It’s not too late to support the series; donate here!
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HUMAN RIGHTS & CIVIL SOCIETY
Nguyen Hong Nguyen, a 38-year-old man with the Facebook account name of Bồ Công Anh, and Truong Dinh Khang, a 26 year-old woman with the Facebook account name of Hồ Mai Chi, were sentenced to two and one year in prison, respectively, on September 22. The indictment said that Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Khang had been friends on Facebook since 2017 and usually collected and shared on many articles and videos which were supposed to “defame the leader and distort the policy of party and the state.”
On September 24, 2018, Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, 42, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. According to his indictment, Quang, using a Facebook account name of Quang Doan, posted Facebook comments that were offensive to the Party and the authorities. Security forces said that they found two yellow flags with three red stripes in his house, which was the national flag of the Republic of Vietnam in the South before 1975. He was also accused of provoking other people to protest against two proposed bills on special economic zones and cyber security on June 10, 2018.
Lastly, on September 27, 2018, the People’s court of Thot Not district, also in Can Tho province sentenced Bui Manh Dong, 40, to two years and six months in prison. According to the indictment, Mr. Dong was accused of creating many documents with distorted content during the period of 2017 to July of 2018, which were meant to defame the Party, state, and other leaders, such as Former President Ho Chi Minh or Former President Ton Duc Thang.
On September 27, 2018, a fan page supporting the state’s propaganda formally admitted that Ho Chi Minh city’s police arrested nine members of a civil society group with the intention to investigate for them criminal prosecution. The group aims to teach Vietnamese citizens about their Constitutional rights. They are:
1- Ngô Văn Dũng (Facebooker Ngo Van Dung), arrested on September 4
2- Đoàn Thị Hồng (Facebooker Xuân Hồng), arrested on September 2
3. Đỗ Thế Hoá (Facebooker Bang Lĩnh), arrested on September 1
4. Trần Hoàng Lan (Facebooker Tran Hoang Lan)
5. Hùng Hưng (Facebooker Hung Hung)
6. Hồ Văn Cương (Facebooker Văn Cương Hồ)
7. Trần Phương (Facebooker Phương Trần ),
8. Phạm Thảo (Facebooker Tâm Tâm Nguyen),
9. Huỳnh Trương Ca, arrested on September 5
Beginning on September 1, police secretly began to detain the above people and withheld information about their detentions from their families. The group had planned to promote peaceful demonstrations in early September. Apart from Mr. Thao, the others are still detained at Ho Chi Minh city’s Police Department. Huynh Truong Ca’s was the only case that police publicized soon after the arrest.
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Vietnam keeps throwing people in jail for their Facebook posts: “Vietnam sent a stern warning to dissidents this week: criticize the government online and you’ll end up in jail. The government made that much clear when it jailed two activists in the space of four days for messages they posted on Facebook. These arrests are just a ‘preview of what’s to come’ under Vietnam’s controversial new cybersecurity laws, activists and human rights monitors said.”
It’s here: the preview of our interview series with female activists in Vietnam. Thanks for your support so far! With this series, we would like to share the voices of more female activists. Would you like to help? Donate here, and check out the preview clip with female activist and former political prisoner Pham Thanh Nghien.
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