Former Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience Still in Custody after 12 Days Without Charge

Former prisoner of conscience and labor activist Doan Huy Chuong

By Defend the Defenders, January 4, 2018

Police in Vietnam’s southern province of Dong Nai are still holding former prisoner of conscience Protestant pastor Doan Van Dien for the 12th day without charging him.

On December 24, 2017, Dong Nai police arrested Mr. Dien in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong where he temporarily stays. The detainee is a member of the Inter-faith Council, an unregistered coalition working for religious freedom in the Southeast Asian nation.

Police verbally informed the family about the detention of Mr. Dien but did not unveil the reason for the arrest.

Pastor Dien, who was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison in 2007 for “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code, is the father of e-political prisoner Doan Huy Chuong, who is a key member of the unsanctioned Viet Labor Movement.

Mr. Chuong, who spent total 8.5 years in prison, told Defend the Defenders that his father’s detention aims to force him to show up so police can arrest him. After the arrest, police in Dong Nai send officers to different places to seek for him, he added.

The prolonged detention of his father without charge and arrest warrant is violation of the country’s Criminal Procedure Law, which allows police hold suspects for maximum nine days without charge(s).

Mr. Chuong was arrested in 2006 together with his father. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

After being released, Chuong and Do Thi Minh Hanh and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung formed the Viet Labor Movement aiming to help workers to demand for higher salary and better working conditions.

In 2010, the trio was arrested on allegation of “Disrupting security” under Article 89 of the Penal Code 1999. Chuong and Hanh were sentenced to seven years in prison each while Hung was given nine years in jail. Chuong was released in February last year while Hung is still in prison and Hanh was released in 2015 after four years in prison thanks to international pressure.

Mr. Dien is the latest victim of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and online bloggers. In 2017, Vietnam arrested 45 activists on allegation of anti-state activities in the national security provisions of the Penal Code and sentenced 20 of them to between three and 16 years.

Vietnam is holding around 180 prisoners of conscience, according to Defend the Defenders’ counting.