Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for July 22-28, 2019: Activist Ha Hai Ninh Likely Convicted of Subversion
Defend the Defenders | July 28, 2019
On July 23, authorities in Quang Ninh province were likely holding the first-instance hearing to try local resident Ha Hai Ninh on charge of subversion. The trial has not been publicized so its outcome is unclear for the public.
Ninh, 31, is a member of a campaign opposing China’s expansionism in the East Sea (South China Sea). His arrest was related to his participation in a group linking to the exile provissional government of Vietnamese American Dao Minh Quan.
Prominent dissident physics doctor Nguyen Thanh Giang died in his private residence in the capital city of Hanoi after years of suffering from severe diseases, including a stroke in 2013. He started writing about human rights and democracy to call on Vietnam’s regime to carry out political reforms to promote the country’s development. He was under persecution for decades, including a three-month detention, regular interrogation, house arrest and being barred from international travel.
Vietnam’s authorities have extended the pre-trial detention of Vietnamese Australian Chau Van Kham to September. The democracy activist member of Viet Tan was arrested on January 11 and charged with subversion, together with Nguyen Van Vien from the unregistered organization Brotherhood for Democracy, who was charged with the same allegation.
Vietnam’s authorities have changed the allegation against former prisoner of conscience Truong Duy Nhat from “Abuse of power or position for appropriation of property” under Article 355 to “Abuse of power or position in performance of official duties” under Article 356 of the Penal Code. Mr. Nhat, who was kidnapped in Bangkok in late January this year, is facing imprisonment of up to 15 years if is convicted.
Human rights activist Nguyen Nam Phong was released on July 28, four months ahead of his due. He was arrested in late November 2017 and sentenced to two years in prison on allegation of “Resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 257 of the 1999 Penal Code.
Dang Hoang Thien, who was sentenced to 16 years in a trumped-up case of “conducting terrorist acts” in 2017, under maltreatment while serving his imprisonment in Xuan Loc Prison camp (K2-Z30) in the southern province of Dong Nai.
===== July 22-23 =====
Investigation Against Australian Chau Van Kham Extended
Defend the Defenders: Vietnam’s authorities have extended the investigation period against Vietnamese Australian Chau Van Kham to September, making it to mount to eight months from his arrest in mid-January this year.
Mr. Kham, 70, was detained on January 13 when he met with local citizen Nguyen Van Vien in a cafeteria in Ho Chi Minh City. Kham is a member of California-based Vietnam Reform Party (Viet Tan) which is labelled by Vietnam’s communist regime as a terrorist group while Vien is a member of the unregistered organization Brotherhood for Democracy, nine members of which were convicted of subversion and sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison in 2017-2018.
Both Kham and Vien were charged with “Activities against the people’s government” with maximum punishment of 20 years, life imprisonment or death.
Khamis permitted to meet with Australian diplomats during consular visitsbut can only receive medicine, food and even birthday cards from hisfamily members. He hasyet met with a lawyer untilthe investigation completes, said Vietnam’s authorities.
OnJuly 23, Christopher Patrick Hayes, a member of the Australian House of Representatives, sent an open letter to the Australian Government urging it to make all effort to bring Kham back to his family.
Kham is the second Australian being arrested by Vietnam in relations with Viet Tan. In October 2010, Melbourne social worker and mother of two Hong Vo was arrested at the airport for taking part in a peaceful protest over contested islands in the South China Sea.Shewas released after 10 daysof interrogation which lasted ten hours every day.
Vietnam is intensified crackdown on local dissent, arresting around 20 activists so far this year and convicted nine human rights defenders and social activists with a total imprisonment of 50 years.
The communist nation is holding 232 prisoners of conscience, according to Defend the Defenders’ statistics.
Activist Ha Hai Ninh Likely Tried of Subversion in First-instance Hearing Unknown for Public
Defend the Defenders: Authorities in Vietnam’s northern province of Quang Ninh were likely holding the first-instance hearing to try local citizen Ha Hai Ninh on an allegation of subversion.
Ninh, 31, was arrested in early 2018 for his membership in a group linked to the exile provisional government of Vietnamese American Dao Minh Quan, who is advocating for using violence to overthrow the communist regime.
He was reportedly leaving the group one year before being detained.
There was no news on his detention and trial on the state-controled media. Some individuals living in southern provinces have been summoned to the trial as witnesses.
About seven years ago, Ninh joined a campaign named No-U movement opposing to China’s expansionism in the East Sea (South China Sea). The movement was set up by Hanoi-based activists who were key factors of the peaceful anti-China protests in Hanoi in 2011.
It is unclear the outcome of the trial against Ninh. Activists are investigating the case
===== 25/7 =====
Chargeagainst Former PoC Truong Duy Nhat Changed
Defend the Defenders: The Investigation Agency under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security has changed the charge against former prisoner of conscience Truong Duy Nhat from “Abuse of power or position for appropriation of property” under Article 355 to “Abuse of power or position in performance of official duties” under Article 356 of the Penal Code.
Mr. Nhat, who was kidnapped in Bangkok in late January this year, is facing imprisonment of up to 15 years if is convicted.
He told his wife during their meeting in T16 Temporary detention facility on July 25 that the change was made after the agency failed to find solid clues to prove him guilty. Nhat is confident that he is innocent for the new charge.
Earlier this year, a group of UN experts issued a joint statement confirming their investigation in which they said Nhat was kidnapped by Thai policemen who later handed him over to Vietnamese secret agents, He was taken back to Vietnam and transferred to the detention facility on January 28, three days after he registered as a political asylum in the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees in Bangkok.
===== July 26 =====
Political Prisoner Dang Hoang Thien under Maltreatment
Defend the Defenders: Dang Hoang Thien, who is serving his 16-year imprisonment in Xuan Loc Prison camp (K2-Z30) in the southern province of Dong Nai, has been disciplined by the prison’s authorities.
According to his mother and his brother-in-law, for many months, the prison’s authorities have been providing him only cooked rice and vegetables for meals. He has also been placed in solitary cell after having been held in the same cell with two democracy activists Mr. Nguyen Van Duc Do and Mr. Nguyen Quoc Hoan who were sentenced to 11 years and 13 years in prison, respectively.
He is currently very weak due to lack of nutrients, said his family.
The 28-year-old Thien was convicted by the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City for terrorism on 27 Dec 2017. During an one-day trial, the court also convicted 13 others of the same charge and sentenced them to between five and 14 years in prison and probation of three to five years.
The state media reported that they belonged to the US-based group led by Dao Minh Quan, who is appointed as the prime minister of the exiled provissional government. Vietnam’s authorities accused the group of having a plan to set fire in Tan Son Nhat airport and a police premise in HCM City in 2017.
The trial failed to meet international standards for fair trial while the defendants said they did not be in the same group and denied to commit the crimes.
===== July 28 =====
Prominent Dissident Dr. Nguyen Thanh Giang Dies after Years of Suffering Serious Diseases
Defend the Defenders: Physic PhD Nguyen Thanh Giang, one of the leading pro-democracy campaigners in 1990s, died in his private residence in Hanoi on the early morning of July 28 after years of suffering from severe diseases, including stroke in 2013.
Born in 1936, Dr. Thanh is considered as one of a group of four most famous dissidents, others are Hoang Minh Chinh, retired police colonel Le Hong Ha and novelist Hoang Tien.
He started writing about multi-party democracy and human rights in 1996, calling on Vietnam’s regime to conduct political reforms to promote the country’s development.
Due to his democracy activities, he was persecuted by Vietnam’s authorities, including three-month detention, regular interrogation, house arrest and being barred from traveling to foreign countries.
Together with dissident retired army colonel Pham Que Duong, he established outlet Tổ Quốc (Nation) which publishes writings of democracy activists in the country.
Prisoners of Conscience Nguyen Nam Phong Released
Defend the Defenders: Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Nam Phong, who was convicted of “Resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 257 of the 1999 Penal Code, was released on July 28, four months prior to his due in November 2019.
Police took him from a prison in Ha Tinh province to his father-in-law’s private residence in a bid to avoid the welcome meeting of his family and friends who went to the prison to welcome him.
Phong, who is a driver of Catholic priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc, the leading figure assisting Formosa-affected fishermen in Nghe An province, was arrested in mid-November 2017 for denying to open his car to allow plainclothes agents to arrest human rights defender Hoang Duc Binh on May 15, 2017. Binh was later kidnapped and charged with anti-state activities and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
During Phong’s imprisonment, his oldest daughter died from a cancer.
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