Vietnam’s “most famous activist” sentenced to 9 years in prisonPublished: Dec 14, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
People in Need condemns the trial of Pham Doan Trang and ruthless violations of her right to freedom of expression, and right to a fair trial. We call for her immediate and unconditional release.
On December 14 2021, the trial of Pham Doan Trang, writer and human rights activist, ended with 9 years of imprisonment. She was charged under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code for creating, storing and disseminating “anti-state documents”. Evidence used against her included a few written reports on human rights, and two interviews she did with BBC and Radio Free Asia.
There were various indicators that the trial was unjust. According to her lawyer, Doan Trang only knew about her trial only the day before it. Considered as “the most famous activist” in contemporary Vietnam, Doan Trang’s trial was accompanied with reports of surveillance and movement restrictions imposed on other activists in Hanoi. It was also reported that representatives from foreign embassies, including the Czech, French and Dutch, faced restrictions in accessing the trial.
In her final statement in front of the court, Doan Trang said:
“You may imprison me and bask in celebration for eliminating a longstanding thorn in your eye, but you will never be rid of your ugly, authoritarian, undemocratic, anti-democratic reputation.”
She was arrested on October 6 2020, a few hours after the 24th Annual U.S. – Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue. Not long before the arrest, she co-authored a civil society report about deadly clash in Dong Tam that had been heavily criticized for the police’s excessive use of force against land petitioners.
About Pham Doan Trang
Doan Trang is the co-founder of the Liberal Publishing House, which published books written by Vietnamese authors on topics of high political sensitivity. She wrote Politics of a Police State, Non-violent Resistance, and most famously Politics for the Common People, published by the Liberal Publishing House. The Liberal Publishing House has been subjected to a wide range of state-sponsored attacks since its establishment. Many of its supporters and readers have been summoned by the police for investigations, and some of them were reportedly arrested and tortured.
Doan Trang was an editor for Law Magazine, a popular online platform which focuses on Vietnamese and international politics. The Magazine’s website is blocked inside Vietnam. In recognition of her fearless contribution to human rights in Vietnam, People in Need awarded her the Homo Homini Award in 2017, when she received the award in absentia. In 2019 she received the Prize for Impact from international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders.
According to the latest report by the international human rights organization Committee to Protect Journalists, Vietnam has imprisoned at least 23 journalists in 2021, making it among the world’s 5 worst abusers of press freedom, next to China, Myanmar, Egypt and Belarus.