Vietnam Police Arrest Pro-democracy Activist amid Escalating Political Crackdown

By Defend the Defenders, November 06, 2016

On November 6, security forces in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Mr. Luu Van Vinh, a pro-democracy activist, and charged him with allegation of carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the administration under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code as part of the ongoing escalating crackdown against local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders.

Authorities in HCMC, the biggest economic hub in Vietnam, deployed a large number of police officers to Mr. Vinh’s private residence in the city, local activists said. Police were reported to conduct search in his house several house afternoon of Sunday, they said.

His wife said police brutally beat him and confiscated a number of items, including computers and cell phones.

If found guilty, Vinh may face capital punishment according to Vietnam’s law.

Mr. Vinh, 49, is from the northern province of Hai Duong. He has participated in numerous peaceful demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to protest China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea, as well as against the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group which discharged large volume toxic industrial waste from its Ha Tinh province-based steel plant into the central coastal waters.

Last year, Mr. Vinh moved to HCMC. In mid July, he declared to establish the Coalition of Self-determination Vietnamese People which aims to fight for ending the communists’ political monopoly. All major issues of the country should be decided by people via referendums, according to the founding statement.

However, he was said to leave the coalition recently.

Mr. Vinh is the third activist detained within one month. On October 10, Vietnam arrested prominent blogger and human rights activist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and on November 2, it arrested well-known blogger Ho Hai. The two bloggers were accused of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88.

Vietnamese communist government has intensified its crackdown against local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders. It has imprisoned around twenty activists and detained nearly ten others so far this year.

In addition, hundreds of activists have been brutally tortured by police officers and assaulted by plainclothes agents.