Vietnam court sentences Khmer Krom man to 3½ years in prison

The man from the persecuted ethnic group was accused of ‘abusing democratic freedoms.’


RFA | 2024.02.08

A court in Vietnam’s Soc Trang province has sentenced an ethnic Khmer Krom man to three-and-a-half years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 of the country’s criminal code, state-controlled media reported.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that Danh Minh Quang, 34, used his personal Facebook account to post comments and live-stream videos which “violated Vietnam laws.”

Quang set up the account in Dec. 2018 and the prosecution claimed that from 2021 to July 2023 there were 51 comments, photos and videos that  had “contents that were negative, propaganda and distorted realities for defaming the honor and dignity of State officials.”

Quang was arrested by Soc Trang Provincial Police on July 31, 2023 along with Thach Chuong and To Hoang Chuong. 

All three were prosecuted on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on State interests, legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals.”

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch , called for authorities to drop all charges against Quang and immediately release him.

“The government of Soc Trang province shamelessly trampled on the right of freedom of expression and retaliated against a citizen for simply stating his politically independent views on social media,” Robertson said in a statement on Feb. 11.

“The National Assembly of Vietnam should urgently amend the penal code and repeal rights-abused articles, including Aticle 331, which is systematically being used by the Vietnamese government to violate rights of ordinary people across the country,” he said.

Nearly 1.3-million Khmer Krom live in a part of Vietnam that was once southeastern Cambodia. They have faced serious restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and movement.

In August last year, community members living in the U.S. organized a demonstration in front of the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington DC to protest the policy of oppressing the Khmer Krom people and demanding the release of the three men.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang. 




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