By Defend the Defenders, July 3, 2017
On July 3, the police of Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi officially announced the arrest of young activist Tran Hoang Phuc, four days after detaining him without warrant in a renting apartment on Hoang Hoa Tham street, Buoi ward, Tay Ho district.
The police said Phuc will be kept for investigation on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code, particularly making, storing and disseminating videos defaming the ruling communist party and its government. He will face imprisonment of up to 20 years if is convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.
Currently, Phuc is imprisoned in the Detention facility No. 1 under the management of the Hanoi city’s Department of Police. He will be likely kept incommunicado for at least four months for investigation, the common practice applied for those who were accused of allegations in the national security provision of the Penal Code.
On June 29, Hanoi’s police broke in his apartment on Hoang Hoa Tham street, detaining without showing arrest warrant.
The arrest announcement was made after his mother came from Ho Chi Minh City to ask about him.
On April 13, Phuc and Huynh Thanh Phat were kidnapped by plainclothes agents, who robbed and brutally beat them before releasing the activists in a remote area in the central province of Quang Binh.
Phuc is a 23-year-old activist based in Saigon. He publicly calls for multi-party democracy and human rights enhancement as well as environmental protection. In late May last year, when then U.S. President Barack Obama visited Saigon, he was invited to meet him but was detained by local security shortly prior to the meeting
Phuc’s arrest was made amid Vietnam’s intensified crackdown against local political dissidents, human rights campaigners, social activists and independent bloggers.
Numerous activists have been arrested and charged with controversial articles 79, 88, and 258 of the Penal Code since late 2015 when the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam prepared its 12th National Congress with election of the new leadership for the 2016-2021 period.
Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha, and land rights activist Tran Thuy Nga are under investigation on charges of anti-state propaganda. The first two were arrested in late 2015 while the last two were detained in January this year.
On the same day of Phuc’s detention, Vietnam sentenced human rights activist and environmental campaigner Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh or Mother Mushroom to 10 years in prison who was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda.” Her sentencing was condemned by many foreign governments including the EU, the U.S., the UK, and Germany as well as many international rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Reporters Without Borders and Front Line Defenders.
Over 30 Vietnamese activists were tried and sentenced to heavy imprisonment since the beginning of 2016.
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