The Higher People’s Court in the Vietnamese capital plans to hear appeals from three famous activists: blogger Le Van Dung, also known as Le Dung Vova, and land rights activists Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam.
Independent journalist Le Van Dung’s hearing will be on August 16. The next day the court will rule on Trinh and Nguyen’s sentences.
Dung, 52, was sentenced to five years in prison and five years’ probation for “conducting anti-state propaganda.”
He was accused of “making and uploading on social media 12 clips with propaganda content against the State, defaming the government, spreading fabricated news, causing confusion among the people and insulting the honor and reputation of leaders of the Party and State,” between March 2017 and September 2018.
Dung did not deny posting the clips but said they told the truth. He protested his innocence under the Vietnamese Constitution and international human rights conventions that Vietnam has signed
Dung’s wife, Bui Thi Hue, told RFA she hoped the appeal court would release her husband.
Trinh Ba Phuong, 37, and Nguyen Thi Tam, 50, were both arrested on June 24, 2020 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda.”
Phuong’s mother, Can Thi Theu, and his younger brother, Trinh Ba Tu, were arrested on the same day after complaining on social media about a police raid on land rights protesters from Dong Tam commune where they lived. Three policemen died in clashes with locals and commune leader Le Dinh Kinh, who was leading the land petitioners, was killed by the police.
Theu and her son, Trinh Ba Tu, were both sentenced to eight years in prison and three years of house arrest.
In December the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Phuong to 10 years in prison and five years of probation. Tam was sentenced to six years in prison and three years of probation.
This is not Tam’s first conviction. She was imprisoned twice for fighting against land expropriation by the Duong Noi commune government. In 2008 she was charged with “disturbing public order” and in 2014 she was convicted for “resisting public officials.”
Phuong’s wife, Do Thi Thu, told RFA she was extremely dissatisfied with the original trial.
“My husband and our family only spoke the truth about the land and the truth about the people of Dong Tam, yet they sentenced my husband to 10 years in prison and my mother-in-law and brother-in-law were imprisoned for eight years.”
“This judgment is absurd. I have no hope for the upcoming appeal hearing. I also do not expect the court to reduce my husband’s sentence.”
“I just hope that this communist dictatorship will soon collapse so the Vietnamese people will suffer less and have more freedom and then my husband and other prisoners will be freed.”
During the original trial, Phuong accused Hanoi police investigators of torturing him many times during the interrogation, hitting his genitals, causing him great pain.
Theu and her two sons won awards from the Vietnam Human Rights Network last year. The U.S.-based organization recognizes activists and organizations in Vietnam “who have made their mark in the inexorable march towards freedom, human rights and democracy of the Vietnamese people.”