Vietnam: Arrests of Another Member of Online Democracy Group
September 4, 2017, 2:04 am
Authorities in northern Vietnam’s coastal Thai Binh province arrested another member of the Brotherhood for Democracy association on Friday, adding to the growing numbers of the online advocacy group put behind bars in recent weeks, the man’s wife said.
Nguyen Van Tuc, a former political prisoner, was taken into custody at around 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 1 after being called to a meeting at the local District People’s Committee, his wife Bui Thi Re told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“I learned that he was arrested while on his way there and was put into a car and taken to an unknown location,” she said. “We don’t know yet where he is.”
About a hundred police then came to their house to carry out a search, Bui Thi Re said.
“I was alone in the house, and they made me sit in a chair and read a search warrant while they spent the day looking through the house,” she said, adding that police then confiscated a number of shirts carrying the Brotherhood for Democracy logo, some money that had been donated for her mother’s funeral, and several electric chargers.
Writing later on Facebook, dissidents familiar with Tuc’s case said that the veteran activist, who had previously represented villagers in Thai Binh province’s Dong Hung district in a land dispute, had been arrested on charges of subversion under the provisions of Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code.
Tuc, 53, had previously spent four years in prison after being convicted in 2008 of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the penal code. He was freed in 2012 after serving his full term.
Others also held
Tuc was at least the sixth member of the Brotherhood for Democracy group, which was founded in 2013, to have been arrested in recent weeks.
On Aug. 4, police in central Vietnam’s Quang Binh province took into custody another former political prisoner, Nguyen Trung Tuc, on charges of working to topple the country’s one-party communist state.
Four other members of the group were arrested on the same charges the week before. Taken into custody were Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, 45, engineer Pham Van Troi, 45, journalist Truong Minh Duc, 57, and lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen, 49, according to a statement on the website of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security.
In May, jailed human rights attorney and activist Nguyen Van Dai, a founding member of the group, received an award in absentia from the German Association of Judges, the Deutscher Richterbund, honoring him for his work in human rights.
Jailed once before for his role in Vietnam’s growing democracy movement, Dai was taken into custody again in December 2015 after he left his home in Hanoi to meet with European Union representatives who were researching human rights issues in Vietnam.
Communist Vietnam, where all media are state-controlled, does not tolerate dissent, and rights groups identify Article 79 as among a set of vague provisions that authorities have used to detain dozens of writers and bloggers
UPDATE: On 5 April 2018, court in Hanoi opened trial Thursday of six activists accused of attempting to overthrow the government as communist authorities stepped up their crackdown on dissent.
Prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and five others are accused of affiliating with a pro-democracy group called the Brotherhood for Democracy, which prosecutors say works with foreign and domestic organizations to oppose the state, change the political system and eventually overthrow the government.
The six face the death penalty if convicted.
UPDATE 9 April 2018: O On April 5, the People’s Court of Hanoi found six pro-democracy activists members of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy guilty of subversion, sentencing them to a total 66 years in prison and 17 years under house arrest afterward.