Trial against Democracy Activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh Scheduled on June 6

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Anh in a peaceful demonstration against Formosa in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016

Defend the Defenders, May 28, 2019


Authorities in Vietnam’s southern province of Ben Tre will hold the first-instance hearing to try local democracy activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh on June 6, Defend the Defenders has learned.

The trial, open for the public, will be carried out by the province’s People’s Court in its headquarters in Ben Tre city, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Chau, the wife of the activist, informed Defend the Defenders. She received a summoning letter from the court which requests her to participate in the trial as a witness, Chau noted.

Mr. Anh was arrested on August 30, 2018 on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code. The 39-year-old activist is facing imprisonment up to 12 years if is convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Few months after his arrest, his wife signed a legal contract with Saigon-based attorney Dang Dinh Manh, however, Anh has not been allowed to meet with his lawyer so far.

Mrs. Chau, who met her husband in prison for the first time in April, said Anh will not use counsel assistance in his trial, adding his decision may be made under the Ben Tre province’s police.

Anh graduated from Nha Trang University’s Aquaculture and had a shrimp farm in Binh Dai commune, Binh Dai district. The shrimp grower posted many articles and conducted a number of live streams on his Facebook account Nguyễn Ngọc Ánh to promote human rights and multi-party democracy. He also participated in peaceful demonstrations in issues of environment and the country’s sovereignty.

His arrest is a part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on the local dissent, which started in late 2015 with the detention of prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and has been intensified after the Law on Cyber Security became effective in January 2019.

Anh is listed as a prisoner of conscience by NOW! Campaign, a coalition of 15 domestic and international civil rights organizations, including Civil Rights Defenders (CRD), Front Line Defenders (FLD), Defend the Defenders (DTD), and Boat People SOS (BPSOS).