Sad week for Vietnam’s human rights as more dissidents given harsh prison sentencesPublished: Dec 17, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
Only one day after the heavily criticized trial of Homo Homini laureate Pham Doan Trang, Vietnam continues its series of unfair trials against its dissidents. Two land rights activists, Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam, were sentenced to 16 years in prison and 8 years of probation in total.
On December 15 Trinh Ba Phuong was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 5 years of probation. Nguyen Thi Tam, who was arrested and also tried the same day as Trinh Ba Phuong, was sentenced to 6 years in prison and 3 years of probation. They were charged under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code for creating, storing and disseminating “anti-state documents”. Both will appeal against the judgement.
The two activists’ families were neither permitted nor able to attend the trial. Some of them were barricaded at home by the police, while some were dragged and driven away to an unknown place and driven back when the trial ended. The evidence brought against Trinh Ba Phuong is 2 videos published on Facebook that cover the deadly clash at the height of the enduring land dispute in Dong Tam village. He was also convicted of possessing a book by Pham Doan Trang titled “A Handbook for the Families of Prisoners”.
Both were arrested on June 24 2020 together with Trinh Ba Phuong’s mother Can Thi Theu and his brother Trinh Ba Tu due to their activism related to the Dong Tam clash. Trinh Ba Phuong’s mother and brother were tried in May 2021 and sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison and 6 years of probation. It has been made obvious that these trials all serve the same purpose of silencing all voices of dissent against the police misconducts that led to the Dong Tam tragedy.
Trinh Ba Phuong is son of former political prisoner Trinh Ba Khiem and current political prisoner Can Thi Theu, two prominent activists in the field of land rights. In 2014, Trinh Ba Phuong’s parents were arrested and sentenced to several months while filming land-grabbing incidents. Their arrests prompted their sons Trinh Ba Phuong and Trinh Ba Tu to start their civil society activism which resulted in surveillance and harassment of the whole family by the local authorities.
The trial of Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam took place only one day after the trial of one of the most famous activists from Vietnam, Pham Doan Trang, who was sentenced to 9 years in prison for the same charges – “anti-state propaganda”.
The end of the egregious wave of criminal trials against dissidents in Vietnam is not yet in sight. Anti-corruption activist Do Nam Trung, and self-nominated candidate for the parliamentary elections Le Trong Hung, are awaiting their trials. Both are also charged with “anti-state propaganda”.
People in Need demands appeals of Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam’s sentences, as well as those of all political prisoners serving time behind bars, including Pham Doan Trang, Can Thi Theu and Trinh Ba Tu.
Update: Anti-corruption activist Do Nam Trung was sentenced on December 16 2021 to 10 years in prison. People in Need reiterates its pressing call for Do Nam Trung’s freedom.