March 12, 2018
Defend the Defenders, March 12, 2018
Vietnam’s authorities will hold a trial of Nguyen Viet Dung, who himself declares as the founder and the president of the unregisterd Vietnam Republic Party, according to his family.
Dung, who is a former prisoner of conscience, will be tried for allegation of “conducting anti-state” propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. The People’s Court of the central province of Nghe An will carry out the trial on March 28, the family said, citing information from his lawyers Ngo Anh Tuan and Le Kha Thanh.
Dung was kidnapped by Nghe An province’s security forces on September 27 last year and later the province’s authorities announced his arrest and the charge against him.
Like in other political cases, Dung had been kept incommunicado in police custody during the investigation period since being arrested in late September, lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan told Defend the Defenders, adding he and his colleage Le Kha Thanh are submiting their requests to authorities for meeting with their client for defense preparation.
Dung will face imprisonment of up to 20 years if convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.
Dung was an excellent university student but not allowed to graduate due to his social activities. In 2014, Dung established the unregistered Vietnam Republican Party to fight for multi-party democracy and became its president. In April of the same year, he was arrested after participating in a peaceful demonstration on environmental issues in Hanoi. Later he was sentenced to 15 months in prison on allegation of causing public disorders under Article 245 of the 1999 Penal Code. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered his detention arbitrary in its adopted opinion.
After being released in July 2015, Dung has continued to work to promote human rights and fight for multi-party democracy. He has been detained and beaten many times by plainclothes agents and uniformed police officers.
The arrest and charge of Mr. Dung are part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local activists amid increasing social dissatisfaction caused by systemic corruption, human rights violations, poor economic performance, serious environmental pollution, and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).
Since 2017, Vietnam has arrested at least 45 activists and convicted more than 20 activists with lengthy sentences between three and 14 years in prison on allegations under controversial articles of national security provisions in Penal Code.
The ruling Communist Party of Vietnam and its government have vowed to keep the nation under a one-party regime.