Foreign Countries Should not Sell Weapons to Vietnam as Hanoi May Use Them to Suppress Local Dissent

Đòn độc ác: CSVN dùng loa "sát nhỉ" mua của Mỹ để đàn áp dân - Tin ...

Nghe An police used LRAD to disperse peaceful Catholic followers in May 2017


August 6, 2020

*Vu Quoc Ngu, Director of Defend the Defenders


In order to maintain its political domination in Vietnam, the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is intensifying its crackdown on the local political dissidents, social activists, and human rights defenders ahead of the 13th National Congress of the party slated for January 2021.

The increased persecution started in late 2015 with the arrest of human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, the co-founder and president of the unregistered Brotherhood for Democracy (BFD) who later was forced to live in exile in Germany after being convicted of subversion and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In the following years, Vietnam’s communist regime arrested around 40 activists annually and charged them with controversial articles of the National Security provisions of the  Criminal Code. In the first seven months of this year, it detained 19 activists and 30 land petitioners.

In Vietnam where CPV controls legislative, executive, and judicial affairs, all the detained activists have been convicted by trials that last shortly and fail to meet the international standards for fair trials. They have been sentenced to lengthy imprisonment and being placed in prison camps far from their families with hard living conditions.

Due to its intensified persecution, Vietnam is among the biggest prisons in Southeast Asia for activists. Currently, Vietnam is holding at least 276 prisoners of conscience, according to the latest statistics of Defend the Defenders, a local human rights group.

Although Vietnam has signed and ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the regime has punished these who peacefully exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, and information access and press as well as the right to freedom of religions and beliefs.

According to Defend the Defenders:

– 50 activists are imprisoned due to peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. They were charged with anti-state propaganda (Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code or Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code) or “abusing democratic freedom” (Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code or Article 331 of the 2015 Criminal Code).

– 49 activists are imprisoned after being convicted or charged with subversion (Article 79 of 1999 Penal Code or Article 109 in the 2015 Criminal Code) just due to exercising their right to freedom of association.

– 61 activists are in prison after exercising their right to assembly to attend peaceful demonstrations to protest the communist government’s socio-economic issues. They were charged with “disruption of security” under Article 118 of the 2015 Criminal Code or “disrupting public orders.” Last week, eight activists were convicted of “disruption of security” and sentenced to a total 40 years and six months in prison.

– Activists members of the unregistered Liberal Publishing House have been chased, tortured, and interrogated since October 2019 for their printing and disseminating many books that aim to promote human rights and multi-democracy in Vietnam.

– Hundreds of religious activists have been convicted of undermining the national unity policy with lengthy imprisonment for up to 20 years. Currently, Vietnam still holds at least 56 religious freedom fighters in prisons across the country.

Facing China’s increasing hegemony in the South China Sea (Vietnamese call it the East Sea), Vietnam is seeking to purchase modern weaponry to equip its naval and air forces. However, Hanoi may also use foreign modern military equipment to suppress the local dissent.

One clear example is that Vietnam purchased Long-range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) from the US to equip its naval forces to protect the country’s sovereignty in the South China Sea. However, the communist regime used in May 2017 to disperse peaceful demonstrations of Nghe An-based Catholic followers protesting the abduction of activist Hoang Duc Binh.

Vietnam reportedly purchased an artificial intelligence system from China and other countries to install in big cities to deal with the increasing dissent movement although the authorities said the system was for dealing with criminals.

Defend the Defenders urges countries and companies worldwide not to sell modern weapons to Vietnam’s communist regime because Hanoi may use the weapons to suppress the local residents instead of using them for protecting the country and social orders.


*Vu Quoc Ngu, Director of Defend the Defenders. Contact:, Twitter: @NguMSc