Labour and land rights activist Trần Thị Nga was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment on 25 July 2017 for “conducting propaganda” against the state under Article 88 of the Penal Code. She is a prisoner of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released.
Trần Thị Nga had been held in pre-trial detention since her arrest on 21 January 2017. The conviction and sentence were delivered by the first instance People's Court of Hà Nam province after a one-day hearing. Vietnamese authorities reportedly prevented family members and supporters of Trần Thị Nga, as well as independent journalists and diplomats, from observing the proceedings inside the courtroom. Trần Thị Nga was sentenced to serve an additional five years under house arrest following her release from prison.
According to state-controlled media, Trần Thị Nga was accused of “posting video clips and documents containing anti-state propaganda on the internet”. At the trial, the court reportedly relied upon 13 videos - 11 posted on her Facebook accounts and two allegedly found on her computer - as evidence supporting the charge. The videos related to issues such as pollution of the environment and corruption. Article 88 of Viet Nam's 1999 Penal Code falls under Chapter XI of the Code, which sets out, in broad and ill-defined terms, offences that are purported to "infringe upon national security"; provisions from this chapter are frequently used to criminalize peaceful dissent in Viet Nam.
Trần Thị Nga had been subjected to physical violence, harassment and intimidation in response to her human rights work in the past. In May 2014, she was reportedly attacked on the street by five men in plain clothes, resulting in serious injuries. While held in pre-trial detention this year her health deteriorated as a result of a mucosal injury related to the 2014 attack. As of June 2017, she had been prevented by prison authorities from receiving medical treatment for the injury.
Please write immediately in Vietnamese, English, or your own language calling on authorities to:
- Immediately release Trần Thị Nga from prison and quash the conviction and sentence against her;
- Ensure that until she is released, she is treated in full accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), including promptly providing adequate medical care;
- Ensure an immediate end to arbitrary arrests, prosecutions, and harassment of human rights defenders and activists. Uphold and facilitate the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
Campaigner for Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam
Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office (SEAPRO)
Amnesty International, London
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7413 5660
Mobile: + 44 (0)7986 148967