Prisoners of Conscience


Bùi Hiếu Võ (left) and Phan Kim Khánh (right). Source:

Bùi Hiếu Võ (left) & Phan Kim Khánh (right) – images on the days of their arrests as published by state-owned media.

The 88 Project, March 22, 2017: Blogger Phan Kim Khánh (Phú Thọ province) was arrested on March 21 and blogger Bùi Hiếu Võ (Hồ Chí Minh City), a few days earlier, on March 17. Both were charged under Art. 88 for “propaganda against the Socialist state.”

State-owned media, citing the Ministry of Public Security, has confirmed the arrests and charges against the bloggers. Read More


POC Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn. Source: IJAVN

The 88 Project, March 13, 2017: “My daughter Minh Mẫn was beaten and wounded in prison, and she was held in solitary confinement in a stinky cell for 10 days.” Mrs. Đặng Ngọc Minh, mother of Minh Mẫn, shared in an interview with SBTN.

On March 12, 2017, on her Facebook, Mrs. Đặng Ngọc Minh wrote that Ms. Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mẫn was assaulted by another prisoner named Lan inside the prison; then the prison ward ordered Minh Mẫn to be sent to solitary confinement for 10 days.

Mrs. Đặng Ngọc Minh said: “In the visit on March 12, 2017, my husband called from Prison No. 5, Thanh Hóa province, to let me know that my daughter had been beaten, and she just got out from the disciplinary cell and looked thin and weak because of the harsh treatment she had received.”

Mr. Nguyễn Văn Lợi, father of Minh Mẫn, related: “When I saw Mẫn, Mẫn started telling me about the assault, then the officer interrupted and threatened to end our visit. She had been held in a dirty cell with a poor nutrition regime.” Read More


Vũ Quang Thuận (left) and Nguyễn Văn Điển (right) with a political officer of the American Embassy in Hanoi. Source: Facebook Lê Quốc Quân

The 88 Project, March 3, 2017: Vietnamese state-owned media announced the arrests of two Hanoi-based dissidents, Mr. Vũ Quang Thuận  and Mr. Nguyễn Văn Điển, for “making and distributing video clips with bad content on the Internet.” Official report did not clarify under charges they were arrested. The two may be charged under Art. 88 of the Criminal Code for “propaganda against the Socialist state.”

Both Vũ Quang Thuận (born 1966, nickname Võ Phù Đổng) and Nguyễn Văn Điển (born 1983, nickname Điển Ái Quốc) are leading members of Phong Trào Dân Tộc Chấn Hưng Nước Việt (“Vietnam Progressive Movement”), which has as its principle the motto “Democracy, Progress, Humanity, Peace.” After the arrest of a founding member of the Movement, former political prisoner Lê Thăng Long, in Vietnam in a major political crackdown in 2009, Thuận and Điển fled to Malaysia, but they were arrested, deported back to Vietnam, and detained at the Detention Center 34 in Hồ Chí Minh city. Điển was then released, but Thuận was coerced into an internment at a mental hospital in Đồng Nai. After Thuận’s discharge from the hospital (year unknown), Điển and Thuận has been continuing to work together in their advocating efforts.

The duo have been producing and running a YouTube video channel through which Vũ Quang Thuận discusses political issues, advocates for the respect of human rights and democracy. The last video series they uploaded two days ago is entitled “Guide to Lawful Protest,” which could be one of the reasons that triggered their arrests. Note that recently, there has been an appeal circulated online, allegedly from Father Thadeus Nguyễn Văn Lý, a prominent former prisoner of conscience, calling people to take to the streets every Sunday and holidays starting March 5, 2017, to protest peacefully to “regain the people’s sovereignty.”

© 2017 The 88 Project


Protestant pastor Nguyễn Trung Tôn. Source: Facebook

Defend the Defenders, February 28, 2017: On February 27, Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, president of Brotherhood of Democracy, and his friend Nguyen Viet Tu were kidnapped, beaten and robbed by plainclothes agents in the central provinces of Quang Binh and Ha Tinh, Mr. Ton informed Defend the Defenders.

On Sunday, the duo went to Ba Don town in Quang Tri to meet with local activists. Arriving in the location at around 9 PM of Sunday, they were kidnapped by local plainclothes agents who came by a seven-seat car. The kidnappers beat the duo, covered their heads with cloth and took them into the car. After several hours moving, they stopped the car at Ha Linh commune, Huong Khe district in the neighbor province of Ha Tinh.

At a remote area of Ha Linh, the kidnappers attacked them with iron bars, robbing all their belongings and released them at the place during the cold night in the mountainous region. When they left, Mr. Ton tried to recognized the car registration number, however, the kidnappers covered it with mud. Read More


Blogger Mẹ Nấm

The 88 Project, February 24, 2017: Blogger Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh – Mẹ Nấm’s temporary detention was extended for another three months, yet her family did not receive any written notice. Ms. Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Lan, Mẹ Nấm’s mother, told VOA on February 23 that Khánh Hòa province’s People’s Procuracy had signed a temporary detention extension order for her daughter on January 13, but she has not yet seen the written document. All notices thus far have been given to her “verbally.” She told VOA Vietnamese:

“According to the four-month temporary detention order, February 10 should have been the last day of the detention. On February 14, hearing nothing from the authorities, I filed an inquiry. On February 21, they invited me to come to meet with them and said they had the right to extend the detention for another three months. The officer who invited me was Captain Ngô Xuân Phong. He read to me the order signed on January 13 that extended the temporary detention from February 7 to May 7, meaning for three more months. I asked why they had not notified the family. He said they had notified the temporary detainee only.” Read More


Dang Xuan Dieu at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, Feb. 21, 2017. Source: Facebook Dang Xuan Dieu

Vietnam Right Now, February 21, 2017: A recently exiled Vietnamese activist has told an international gathering in Geneva that he suffered persistent physical and psychological abuse during his six years in jail.

Dang Xuan Dieu said he was periodically shackled, held in solitary confinement, and abused by other prisoners, after being convicted of plotting to overthrow the government.

The political and religious rights activist was released last month after agreeing to go into exile in France. He had served six years of a thirteen year sentence.

“Prisoners were seen as hostile if they refused to cooperate with the prison authorities,” said Dieu in a speech to the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

“The prison officer’s will was seen as god’s will and prisoners had to bow down like children. I was labelled as dangerous and destructive because I tried to lobby for better conditions,” he said.

Treated like a slave

Dieu had been convicted of subversion, under article 79 of the penal code, for his work as a reporter with the Vietnam Redemptorist News, an outlet run by Catholic priests and other activists in Ho Chi Minh City. Read More


Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, blogger and entrepreneur serving 16 years in prison

The 88 Project, February 6, 2017: Prisoner of conscience Tran Huynh Duy Thuc resolutely refuses to be exiled in order to be released early from jail. His family visited him in prison No. 6, Nghe An province on January 29, 2016, and mentioned the case of former prisoner of conscience Dang Xuan Dieu who had been released early and immediately exiled to France. But Thuc was determined to not follow that path. Thuc’s brother told the VOA Vietnamese: “Thuc became very serious and told the family to not talk about him leaving anymore. He said change would come very quickly and nothing could stand in its way. He was determined in staying in the country. He didn’t want to be exiled.”

Last year, in May 2016, Thuc’s family shared with the media that he was “forced to immigrate to the United States” but that he “refused to be exiled in exchange for freedom.” Again, in November 2016, Thuc told his family that he “will not go anywhere and will stay side-by-side with his people inside the country through difficult times,” and that his family “shouldn’t await his release.” Read More