Rejects Bloggers’ Appeals, Sends Them Back to Prison
RFA – 09/23/2019
A court in southern Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City threw out the appeals of two
jailed dissident bloggers on Monday, returning the women to prison to serve
their full terms, according to reports in state media.
Vu Thi Dung, 54, had been sentenced by a court in Dong Nai province in April
2018 to six years in prison, with Nguyen Thi Ngoc Suong, 51, handed a five-year
term in the same trial, on charges of “making, storing, distributing or
disseminating information, documents and items against the Socialist Republic of
Vietnam” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code of 2015 and 2017.
From August 2018 to October 10, 2018, the two women had posted “anti-state”
writings and videos to several accounts set up under different names and had
called for public protests on Oct. 13, 2018 against a new cybersecurity law and
other state policies, media reports said, quoting their indictment.
Dung had also produced flyers with anti-state content and recruited Suong to
distribute these at four separate locations in Dong Nai’s Dinh Quan town, the
Going into effect earlier this year, Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law grants
authorities “sweeping powers to censor online content,” with technology
companies required to identify users and remove politically sensitive postings.
The law has met with widespread international criticism for its tightened
restrictions on freedom of speech online.
Dissent is not tolerated in the one-party communist state, and authorities
routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of
writers and bloggers.
Threat of harm
Meanwhile, a Vietnamese activist and RFA blogger serving a seven-year prison
term for his role in protesting a chemical waste spill on Vietnam’s coast three
years ago was threatened in July with crippling bodily harm, his sister told RFA
in an interview on Monday.
Nguyen Van Hoa, 24, was threatened by prison officials at An Diem Prison in
south-central Vietnam’s Quang Nam province, where he had been placed in
isolation for four months after suffering abuse at the hands of a prison guard,
Hoa’s older sister said.
“In July, while Hoa was confined at K1 subdivision [at An Diem], officials there
told him they were going to cut open the tendons of his legs,” Hoa’s older
sister Nguyen Thi Hue said, following a Sept. 20 visit to her brother in the
“Hoa also told me that while he was in isolation he was held in a room 15 by 20
square meters where he was locked in 24 hours every day. He wasn’t allowed to go
outside to breathe fresh air, couldn’t see daylight, and all his food and drink
were brought to him in his cell,” she said.
Hoa was jailed on Nov. 27, 2017 by the People’s Court of Ha Tinh in Nghe An
province after filming protests outside the Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group
steel plant, whose spill in 2016 killed an estimated 115 tons of fish and left
fishermen and tourism industry workers jobless in four central provinces.
Hoa, who had blogged and produced videos for RFA, was arrested on Jan. 11, 2017
for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state”
under Article 258 of the Penal Code, but the charges against him were later
upgraded to the more severe “conducting propaganda against the state” under
Calls seeking comment from the An Diem Prison rang unanswered on Monday.
Vietnam now holds an estimated 128 prisoners of conscience, according to a May
13, 2019 report by rights group Amnesty International. Meanwhile, Nguyen Kim
Binh of Vietnam Human Rights Network said in December that the one-party
communist state is currently detaining more than 200 political prisoners.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnam’s Service. Translated
by Channhu Hoang. Written in English by Richard Finney.