Apr 6, 2018

Six Vietnamese activists were sentenced to harsh prison terms on April 5, with jail time ranging from 7 to 15 years. One of the most well-known dissidents, lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, received the most severe sentence of 15 years in prison followed five years of house arrest. Nguyen van Dai has been held in custody without trial since 2015.

Nguyen Van Dai was one of the first lawyers of this millennium to defend dissidents in politically motivated trial cases. At the same time, he openly called for the formation of a political opposition to the government of the Communist party of Vietnam.

The sentenced activists were members of the independent group called Brotherhood for Democracy, advocating the ideas of liberalism. Through educating the young and communicating with the media and international institutions, the group spread their ideas of political competition, free trade, civic participation and human rights.

The defendants were convicted based on Article 79 of the Criminal Code for “trying to overthrow the people's administration.” (Article 79 is often a target of international criticism, given its vague one-sentence wording, based on which one can receive even the death penalty.) The conviction amounts to a text of 16 pages, including accusations such as unauthorized assembly, contacts with foreign media and diplomats, and financing the group with foreign funds. 

The several people who gathered in front of the courthouse to support the activists were detained by the police.

The Vietnamese communist regime is behind a long-term persecution of lawyers, bloggers and dissidents. Over the past two years, the situation has worsened considerably, with harsher sentences and more people ending behind the bars. According to Project 88, an online platform that monitors cases of political persecution, there are approximately 113 political prisoners in Vietnam today. (For more information, see HERE.)

Amnesty International recently published a report documenting these cases. According to the report, the Vietnamese regime is one of the harshest in the world in terms of imprisoning those who call for peaceful resistance against the lack of freedoms in the country.

Further reading:

The Homo Homini Prize for 2017 will be awarded to a persecuted Vietnamese blogger. 

For more information about the issue, contact Zuzana Gruberová, media coordinator, Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, People in Need,, +420 770 101 144

Author: PIN