President of Vietnam Republican Party Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Assisting Formora-affected Fishermen

Mr. Nguyen Viet Dung at the trial on April 12, 2018

Defend the Defenders, April 12, 2018

Former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Viet Dung, who established the unsanctioned Vietnam Republican Party several years ago, has been sentenced to seven years in prison and five years under house arrest afterward for assisting fishermen who have been affected by the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group.

At the trial lasting few hours in the morning of April 12, the People’s Court of Nghe An found Mr. Dung guilty of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

The open first-instance hearing was limited to local activists, only few relatives of the incumbent president of the unregistered party were allowed to enter the courtrooom.

Dung, whoserved a 12-month imprisonment for his peaceful activities, was kidnapped by plainclothes agents in his home province of Nghe An on September 27, 2017. Later, he was charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda.” Witnesses reported that he was brutally beaten by kidnappers during the abduction.

His arrest is linked to his assistance given to local fishermen whose lives are seriously affected after the massive death of fish in the central coastal region due to the illegal discharge of a huge amount of toxic industrial waste of the Formosa steel plant in the central province of Ha Tinh.

On March26,Human Rights Watch issued a statementcalling on Vietnam to drop all charges against Dung and release him immediately. The New York-based organization also condemned Vietnam’s use of controversial articles including Articles 79 and 88 in the national security provisions of the Penal Code to silence local political dissidents, human rights defenders and social activists.

On April 12, Amnesty International issued a statement regarding the separate trials of Dung and Vu Van Hung, a former prisoner of conscience and member of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy.James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, saidthat “NguyenViet Dung is a brave young activist in a country where human rights are under attack. This man has already served time in prison for his peaceful activism once before. To ensure there is no repeat of this injustice, the authorities of NgheAn province must immediately drop all charges against Dung and release him immediately.

Dung is among nearly 50 activists being arrested since the begining of 2017, and 12th activist being imprisoned this year amid growing crackdown on Vietnamese dissent.

For details of the case of Dung, please go to our website: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/category/nguyen-viet-dung/

On April 5, Vietnam sentenced six human rights defenders members of the Brotherhood for Democracy to between seven and 15 years in prison. Five days later, Nguyen Van Tuc, vice president of the online pro-democracy group was sentenced to 13 years in jail. All of the were convicted on subversion, one of many controversial articles in the national security provisions of the Penal Code.