Vietnam Extends Investigation against Pro-democracy Luu Van Vinh to Mid-July

Pro-democracy activist Luu Van Vinh

Defend the Defenders, May 22, 2018

Authorities in Vietnam’s southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City have extended the investigation period against human rights activist and democracy campaigner Luu Van Vinh for two additional months until July 13, his wife Le Thi Thap told Defend the Defenders.

Mrs. Thap told Defend the Defenders that in March, the People’s Court of HCM City requested additional investigation in the case after receiving a proposal of the city’s police to prosecute him. The case was transferred to the city’s People’s Procuracy which frozethe case for two months before returning it to the city’s police in May.

With the newest move of the HCM City’s Department of Public Security, Mr. Vinh’s detention period will rise to 21 months from his arrest in November 6, 2018, said the wife after her visit last week to Chi Hoa temporary detention facility under the authority of the city’s police.

Mr. Vinh, who was arrested under the allegation of “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code, was held incommunicado for one year, including five months in Phan Dang Luu temporary detention facility before being transferred to Chi Hoa facility.

He has been allowed to meet with his family sinceNovember last year. However, he is not permitted to get eye glasses and medicinefrom his wife, she said.

Mr. Vinh’sarrest was said to be linked to the Coalition for Self-determined Vietnamese People. Mr. Vinh founded the coalition in mid-July last year and became the president of the organization which aims to end the communists’ political monopoly. All major issues of the country should be decided by the people via referendums, according to its founding statement.However, Vinh was reported to have left the coalition a few days before being detained.

After Vinh’s detention, Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Vietnam’s government to immediately and unconditionally release him and his friend NguyenVan Duc Do and Buddhist monk Phan Trung.

Recently, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a statementsaying the arrest and detention of Mr. Vinh are arbitrary, and urges Vietnam’s government to release him immediately and unconditionally.

The arrests of Vinh and other activists are part of Vietnam’s intensifying crackdown against local politicaldissidents, social activists and human rights defenders amid increasing public awareness about the country’s socio-economic problems, including systemic corruption and widespread environmental pollution.More than 50 activists have been arrested and convicted on allegations of provisions in national security of the Penal Code in the past few years. Many of them have been sentenced to lengthy imprisonments of up to 16 years in prison.

Vietnam has sought to arrest other activists, especially senior members of the online group Brotherhood for Democracy.

For more information onMr. Vinh’s case, see here.