Activist Tran Bang faces additional investigation into propaganda claims

He has already been held for 9 months and has told his family his health is failing.
By RFA Vietnamese
2022.12.12
Activist Tran Van Bang, known as Tran Bang.
Facebook: Tran Bang

Vietnamese war veteran and activist Tran Van Bang (known as Tran Bang) faces a further investigation into Facebook posts that authorities claim contained anti-State propaganda after the People’s Procuracy disagreed with police recommendations.

Bang is being held at a detention center in Ho Chi Minh City following his arrest on March 1 and has told his family he needs urgent medical treatment. He has been charged with "making, storing, disseminating or propagating information, documents and items aimed at opposing the State."

Two of his lawyers said the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Procuracy did not agree with a suggestion by the city police’s Security Investigation Agency to prosecute him under Clause 1 of Article 117 of the Criminal Code, which carries a penalty of between five and 12 years in prison.

In a Saturday Facebook post, the lawyers said the People’s Procuracy returned the case file in November, requesting an additional investigation within two months, and wanted the defense lawyers to participate in proceedings only after the investigation had finished.

The initial investigation concluded that Bang had posted 31 articles with anti-regime content on three Facebook pages between March 2016 and August 2021. Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh, told RFA the defense team had not been told what additional content the Procuracy wanted to be examined and would have to wait until the investigation has finished to find out.,

Bang was not allowed to see his lawyers until seven months after his March arrest and his relatives were only allowed to visit in November. This month his family said they were denied a visit. 

“In early December, our family visited Mr. Bang, but after completing the necessary administrative procedures, the temporary detention center’s staff reported to their superiors and came back to say that we could not see him during the additional investigation period because of the need to protect investigative secrecy,” a family member, who did not want to be named, told RFA.

"We received information about the additional investigation from the lawyer, but the police did not notify the family."

Bang's family said they were very worried about his health. In November, he told them he had a tumor growing in his abdomen, his ears were yellow and his eyes were dry and closed. He said he wanted treatment at a specialized hospital, but the prison had not yet agreed.

Bang is a military veteran who helped defend Vietnam against a Chinese invasion in 1979. He is also a member of the Le Hieu Dang Club, a group of intellectuals who often speak out about national issues.

He is active in Vietnam’s anti-China protest movement and opposed the government’s 2018 plan to grant special economic zone leases to foreign investors. Protesters believed the SEZ Bill would favor Chinese companies over domestic enterprises.

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