Two Members of Unsanctioned Group Hiến PhápCharged with “Disruption of Security,” Accusation against Five Others Unknown

Detained activists Ngo Van Dung and Xuan Hong


Defend the Defenders, October 5, 2018


Two members of the unregistered group Hiến Pháp out of eight members being kidnapped in early September have been charged with “disruption of security” and are facing severe imprisonment if are convicted.

The families of Ho Dinh Cuong (Facebooker Văn Cương Hồ) and Ngo Van Dung (Facebooker Ngo Van Dung) have informed Defend the Defenders that they received notices about them from the police of Ho Chi Minh City on October 5, more than one month from the days they were kidnapped by security forces.

According to the police’s notices dated on September 21, the two were “had acts which disrupt security” and they are now in pre-trial detention in the temporary detention facility of the city’s police.

According to the Vietnamese police’s practice in politically-motivated cases, they will be kept in detention for at least four months. They will not be permitted to meet with their lawyers and families until investigation is completed.

They are facing imprisonments of up to 15 years in prison, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Mr. Dung is a citizen journalist covering news on various topics, including corruption, environmental pollution, China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the South China Sea, and human rights abuse.

Hewas arrested in HCM City on September 4 while conducting a live stream which was posted on his Facebook account. Several hours later, his wife received a SMS message from his cell phone’s number that he was arrested by police and held in Ben Nghe ward’s police station.

His family had received any notice from the police of HCM City until October 5, the wife confirmed. She went to different units of the city’s police but received no confirmation about his arrest and detention.

Two week ago, she went to the temporary detention facility of the city’s police and the facility’s authorities verbally admitted that they are holding him.

Mr. Dung and Mr. Cuong are two out of eight members of the unregistered group Hiến Pháp (Constitution) who were kidnapped on September 1-4. Others are Ms. Doan Thi Hong (Facebooker Xuân Hồng), Ms. Tran Hoang Lan (Facebooker Tran Hoang Lan), Mr. Do The Hoa (Facebooker Bang Lĩnh), Mr. Hung Hung (Facebooker Hung Hung), Mr. Tran Phuong and Mr. Pham Thao (Facebooker Tâm Tâm Nguyen). The last activist was released after being questioned for several days.

The police in HCM City have yet to inform the families of the other five kidnapped activists about their arrests, detention and charges.

On September 1, Vietnam’s security forces also also arrested another member of the group, Mr. Huynh Truong Ca (Facebooker Huỳnh Trương Ca), on September 1 and charged him with “”Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code.

Hiến Pháp was established on June 16, 2017, striving to educatepeople abouthuman rights as well as political and civil rights by disseminating Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution among citizens. Its members were leading figures in the mass demonstration on June 10 in HCM City which aimed to protest the Vietnamese parliament’s plan to approve two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.

Fearing that local residents may hold another mass protest in the first week of September on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day (September 2), the police in HCM City conducted a raid to arrest local activists who used social networks to call for peaceful demonstration.

Along with arresting members of the Hiến Pháp group, HCM City’s police also detained others, including Huynh Thi Thu Vang who was also charged with Article 118. Vang, 52, is working to promote food safety and warn public about abuse of toxic chemicals in food production, processing and preservation.

Vietnam’s crackdown on local dissidents and online bloggers is intensified as General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the ruling Communist Party is striving to take the country’s president post after the sudden death of Tran Dai Quang.

According to the statistics of Defend the Defenders, Vietnam has arrested 24 activists so far this year, and convicted 38 human rights defenders, sentencing them to a total of 282.5 years in prison and 81 years of probation. In addition, the communist regime has convicted 60 people for their participation in the mass protest in mid-June, giving 51 of them between eight and 54 months in prison and eight between five and 18 months of probation. The remaining, Vietnamese American William Anh Nguyen was deported to the US.

On October 5, a court in HCM City convicted human rights advocates and pro-democracy campaigners Luu Van Vinh, Nguyen Quoc Hoan, Nguyen Van Duc Do, Tu Cong Nghia and Phan Trung on subversion, sentencing them to a total 57 years of prison and 15 years of probation. They were punished for their plan to set up the Vietnam National Coalition with aim to fight for political pluralism.

The communist nation is holding 246 prisoners of conscience, according to NoW!Campaign, a coalition of 14 domestic and international NGOs, including Defend the Defenders, Boat People SOS (BPSOS), Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) and Front Line Defenders (FLD).