Vietnam to Try Six Key Members of Brotherhood for Democracy on Allegation of Subversion in Early April

Defend the Defenders, March 23, 2018

Vietnam’s authorities will hold a trial of prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and other five key members of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy on allegation of subversion on April 5, according to the decision of the People’s Court of Hanoi.

According to the decision dated on March 20, Mr.. Dai, 49, Pham Van Troi, 47, Nguyen Trung Ton, 47, Truong Minh Duc, 58, Nguyen Bac Truyen, 50 and Le Thu Ha, 36, will be tried for “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Clause 1 of Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

If convicted, the six pro-democracy activists will face life imprisonment or even capital punishment, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Mr. Dai and his assistant Ms. Ha were arrested on December 16, 2015 with the initial charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 99 of the 1999 Penal Code. Mr. Dai is co-founder of BFD.

On July 30 last year, Vietnam’s security forces arrested Mr. Troi, Mr. Ton and Mr. Duc, three key members of the online pro-democracy group, and Mr. Truyen, who was co-founder of BFD but left the organizations several years ago.

On the same day, Vietnam’s authorities announced that the six activists are charged with subversion.

Vietnam’s communists have vowed to keep the country under a one-party regime and requested their government to make all efforts to prevent the formation of opposition parties. The communist government considers BFD one of main targets of its on-going crackdown on local activists.

After the mass arrest in late July last year, police arrested several other senior members of BFD, including its Spokesman Nguyen Trung Truc, Nguyen Van Tuc and Tran Thi Xuan, who are also charged with subversion allegation.

Sentences for the nine key members of BFD will be likely hard given the fact that many activists have been jailed with lengthy sentences recently.

In June-July last year, Vietnam convicted prominent human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and land rights activist Tran Thi Nga, sentencing them with ten and nine years in prison, respectively. Both female activists have kids in school age.

Since early 2017Vietnam has detained at least 45 activists, and convicted over 20 of them on committing crimes under controversial articles of the national security provisions in the Penal Code. The imprisonments given to them vary from three to 14 years.