Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for July 15-21, 2019: Trial of Anti-corruption Activist Ha Van Nam Scheduled on July 30
Defend the Defenders | July 21, 2019
Authorities in Vietnam’s northern province of Bac Ninh will hold the first-instance hearing on July 30 to try anti-corruption activist Ha Van Nam on charge of “causing public disorders” under Article 318 of the Penal Code. He will face imprisonment of between two and seven years in prison if is convicted.
Nam is among social activists working to protest arbitrarily-placed BOT toll booths across the nation. They are facing harassment, intimidation, persecution and now imprisonment as these booths are supported by senior communist officials.
Four lawyers named Bui Quang Nghiem, Trinh Vinh Phuc, Ha Huy Son and Ngo Anh Tuan have been approved to represent human rights attorney Tran Vu Hai and his wife Ngo Tuyet Phuong who were accused of “tax evasion.” Three others have submitted their requests to protect the couple who were placed under restricted movement, including foreign travel.
The families of five human rights defenders and democracy activists named Ngo Van Dung (M), Tran Thanh Phuong (M), Doan Thi Hong (F), Ho Dinh Cuong (M) and Hoang Thi Thu Vang (F) have filed denunciations accusing the security forces in Ho Chi Minh City of conducting abduction and incommunicado detention of them for more than ten months.
Vietnamese human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Mother Mushroom) has been honored with the Human Rights Award 2019 of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
===== July 16 =====
4 Lawyers Approved to Defend Human Rights Attorney Tran Vu Hai on “Tax Evasion” Charge
Defend the Defenders: Authorities in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa have provided the written document allowing four lawyers named Bui Quang Nghiem, Trinh Vinh Phuc, Ha Huy Son and Ngo Anh Tuan to represent human rights attorney Tran Vu Hai and his wife Ngo Tuyet Phuong who were accused of “tax evasion.”
In his interview given to the Redio Free Asia, Hanoi-based Ha Huy Son confirmed the approval, saying three others are requesting to be Mr. Hai’s lawyers too.
In early July, Khanh Hoa police launched an investigation against Hai and his wife and two local residents, accusing them of making a property deal at lower prices than the market prices in a bid to help the sellers pay less tax.
Along conducting searching of their office and private house to take many documents and cash from other cases, police also placed them under restricted movement, including foreign travel ban.
It seems that the probe is political as recently the Ministry of Public Security denied Mr. Hai’s request for representing former prisoner of conscience Truong Duy Nhat who is accused of “power abuse” after being kidnapped in Bangkok in late January and taken to Vietnam.
Mr. Hai has announced that he will suspend his legal counselling activities to pay more time for himself and his family.
Lawyer Hai is well-known for his willingness to represent victims of injustice, victims of forced land appropriation and politically sensitive cases.
===== July 17 =====
Blogger Mother Mushroom Bestowed 2019 Victims of Communism Human Rights Award
Defend the Defenders: Vietnamese human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Mother Mushroom) has been honored with the Human Rights Award 2019 of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
Quynh, who is living in exile in the US together with her mother and children, was given the award in a ceremony in Russell Senate Office Buildingin Washington DC, with the presence of Senator Alan Lowenthal.
Also in the event, Dr. Lee Edwards, the president of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, called July 15 as “Mother Mushroom day.”
Ms. Quynh was born in 1979 in Khanh Hoa province. She was co-founder of the non-profit Vietnam Blogger Network.
Due to her human rights activities, she was detained and persecuted by the local police. She was arrested in October 2016 and later sentenced to ten years in prison for “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code.
She was released in October 2018 but forced to live in exile in the US.
She was honored International Press Freedom Award 2018 from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a non-profit educational organization in the United States, authorized by a unanimous Act of Congress in 1993 for the purpose of educating Americans about the ideology, history and legacy of communism.
Trial of Anti-tollbooth Fraud (ATF) Activist Mr Ha Van Nam Scheduled on July 30
Defend the Defenders: Authorities of the northern province of Bac Ninh province have decided to hold the first-instance hearing of Ha Van Nam and six other anti-tollbooth fraud (ATF) activists on July 30 after canceling the trial on June 25.
The seven activists were charged with “’causing public disorder” under Article 318 of the Penal Code in a trumped-up case. They face imprisonment of between two to seven years if are convicted.
Mr. Nam, who was arrested on March 5, holds a master in business management and is the owner of a construction firm. Two months earlier, he was kidnapped and savagely bashed by a group of people in civilian clothing.
See Amnesty International’s statement on anti-tollbooth fraud activist Mr. Ha Van Nam https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa42/9991/2019/en/
Vietnam has nearly 100 BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) toll booths, many intentionally placed at wrong locations so investors can collect more tolls, including from those who don’t use the BOT facilities. All illegal BOTs are backed by senior officials of the regime.
Nam is among a number of ATF activists being persecuted and harassed by authorities in localities where illegal BOT toll booths are placed. Other include Tran Dinh Sang, Nguyen Quang Tuy, and Dang Thi Hue.
===== 18/7 =====
Families Condemn Abduction, Incommunicado Detention of Five Activists
Defend the Defenders: The families of five human rights defenders and democracy activists named Ngo Van Dung (M), Tran Thanh Phuong (M), Doan Thi Hong (F), Ho Dinh Cuong (M) and Hoang Thi Thu Vang (F) have filed denunciations accusing the security forces in Ho Chi Minh City of conducting abduction and incommunicado detention of them for more than ten months.
According to their denunciation sent to the prime minister, the parliament chief, the minister of Public Security, the chiefs of the Supreme People’s Court and Procuracy dated June 25, 2019, the five activists were kidnapped by HCM City’s security forces on September 1-4, 2018 without arrest warrants.
The police in HCM City also failed to inform their families about their detentions and accusation until their relatives had to go from one place to another to ask about them.
Several months later, the city police informed their families that they were held for investigation on the charge of “disruption of security” with imprisonment of between seven and 15 years if are convicted.
So far, they have not been allowed to meet with their families and lawyers.
The families also said that they have received any response from these state officials to whom they sent denunciations.
Thefive activists reportedly participated in the peaceful demonstration in HCM City on June 10, 2018 which aimed to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. The first one seems to favor Chinese investors and ignore the country’s sovereignty while the secone bill aims to silence online critics.
Vietnam’s communist regime is still holding around 230 prisoners of conscience, including dozens of democracy activists for months without taking to a court on controversial allegation in the National Security provisions of the Penal Code. Among these are brother Huynh Minh Tam and sister Huynh Thi To Nga. They were arrested in late February.
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