Vietnamese Police Arrest Dissident Writer for Connection With Democracy Group


2020-04-24
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tran-duc-thach Tran Duc Thach in a file photo.
Tran Duc Thach

Police in Vietnam have arrested dissident writer Tran Duc Thach, known for his writings that expose the corruption, injustice and human rights abuses of the Vietnamese government, his wife told RFA.

Tran was arrested Thursday and charged with engaging in activities to overthrow the People’s Government, in violation of Article 109 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code, likely for his involvement with the Brotherhood for Democracy organization.

He was was taken out of his own house in Nghe An province by men wearing plainclothes, his wife, Nguyen Thi Chuong, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

“The Police have been trying to harass my husband ever since he was released from prison,” Nguyen said, referring to a previous prison stint, which ended in 2011.

“Today, my husband was a bit uneasy because he suspected the police might be out in force because [the 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon] is coming up soon on April 30,” she said.

“Three people asked to step inside our home. He agreed, and then like 20 people barged in and read him the arrest warrant,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen said that the police seized cellphones, computers, cameras and about 9 million dong (U.S. $400) in cash.

“They’ve got him at the provincial police station, according to the warrant,” Nguyen added.

Tran Duc Thach, was born in 1952 in Nghe An, and has been an activist for human rights and democracy in Vietnam for many years.

Tran is a veteran of the Vietnam War, who fought in the 4th army corps’ 341st division for the North Vietnamese armed forces.

He wrote “Obsessive Grave,” a book that tells the story of how North Vietnamese soldiers killed hundreds of innocents at Tan Lap commune in Dong Nai province’s Xuan Loc district during the final campaign of the war that ended with Ho Chi Minh’s victory on April 30, 1975.

In October 2009, he was sentenced to three years in jail for “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” along with Vu Van Hung and Pham Van Troi.

The Brotherhood for Democracy is not recognized by the Vietnamese government and many of its members have been imprisoned since its founding in 2013.

Estimates of the number of prisoners of conscience now held in Vietnam’s jails vary widely. New York-based Human Rights Watch said that authorities held 138 political prisoners as of October 2019, while Defend the Defenders has suggested that at least 240 are in detention, with 36 convicted last year alone.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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