Mother of Pro-democracy Activist Tran Hoang Phuc Seeks Permission for Attending His Appeal Hearing


Young activist Tran Hoang Phuc

Defend the Defenders, July 6, 2018


Mrs. Huynh Thi Ut, the mother of jailed pro-democracy campaigner Tran Hoang Phuc has sought permission from Vietnam’s authorities for attending his appeal hearing scheduled on July 10.

The Ho Chi Minh City-based mother has sent her request to the Supreme People’s Court and the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi. However, she has yet to receive response from the two agencies.

The appeal hearing of Phuc and two other members of the Vietnam Reviving Campaign, Mr. Vu Quang Thuan and Mr. Nguyen Van Dien, is open for public, according to the announcement of the Supreme People’s Court. It will be carried out by the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi. 

In their first-instance hearing on January 31 this year, ostensiblyopen for public, no one from their families was permitted to enter the courtroom. They were kept far from the court area while all the roads leading to the court were blocked by numerous police officers and militia. Foreign diplomats were not permitted to observe the hearing in the courtroom while many activists in Hanoi were blocked from going out during the day.

In their trial more than five months ago, they were convicted of “conducting anti-state propganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. Particularly, Mr. Thuan and Mr. Dien were accussed of producing and posting 31 video clips on social networks which defame state leadership, including late President Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the communist regime.

Mr. Thuan was sentenced to eigh years in prison and five years under house arrest while Dien was given six years and six months in prison and four years of probation.

Phuc was said to assist Thuan and Dien in posting three video clips, and was sentenced to six years in prison and four years under house arrest.

At the end of the trial, the defendants reaffirmed that they are not guilty and had only been exercising basic rights enshrined in the country’s 2013 Constitution as well as the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights to which Vietnam is a signatory.

The arrest of the trio was part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local dissent. Last year, Vietnam arrested at least 40 activists and charged most of them with controversial articles of national security provisions in the Penal Code.

They have been among 20 activists convicted so far this year.

It is expected that their sentences will be upheld by the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi given the fact that few political defendants got lighter sentences in their appeal hearings.

The trio have been held in the Temporary detention facility No. 1 under the authority of the Hanoi police department. Mrs. Ut has reported that the facility’s authorities refuse to allow her to send medical drugs for Mr. Phuc who is suffering from hepatitis C disease.