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Timeline of Events in the Struggle for Freedom of Expression in Vietnam

Color Key:



Actions While Imprisoned


Political Events 

Civil Society/Protests

Activists at Risk

Please pardon our work while we add in our sources and more dates to the timeline; it is in a continuous state of improvement, and we welcome any contributions of information. 

The struggle for freedom of expression in Vietnam is generally thought to have begun in the 1950s with the Nhan Van Giai Pham movement.


1976: Doan Viet Hoat detained and held without trial for twelve years; he shares a cell with 40 others

1978-1988: Doctor Nguyen Dan Que serves ten years in prison for his criticism of the state and for the founding of a civil society organization


May 1983-July 1992: Catholic priest, Father Nguyen Van Ly, jailed for “destroying the people’s unity” (he also served a year in prison from 1977-1978)

May 1983: Nguyen Huu Cau sentenced to life in prison for his poetry pertaining to abusive power and corruption

February 1989: Doan Viet Hoat released from 12-year detention


1990: Doan Viet Hoat detained again

June 14, 1990: Nguyen Dan Que arrested again after forming a new, non-violent group and calling for people to sign a petition for change in Vietnam

1991: Activist/writer Duong Thu Huong spends eight months in prison after previously being kicked out of the Communist Party; her books are banned in Vietnam

November 29, 1991: Nguyen Dan Que sentenced to 20 years in prison, accused of attempting to “overthrow” the government; he is also punished for his ties to Amnesty International

April 25, 1992: Businessman and engineer Nguyen Si Binh arrested, along with 16 others, for his supposed involvement in attempts to subvert the government

March 1993: Doan Viet Hoat sentenced to twenty years and spends 4.5 years in solitary confinement

September 1998:  Nguyen Dan Que, Doan Viet Hoat, and others released under amnesty for Vietnam’s National Day— Doan Viet Hoat moves to the US, and Nguyen Dan Que is asked to leave Vietnam, but refuses


May 17, 2001: Father Nguyen Van Ly arrested again after giving testimony to the US about freedom of religion in Vietnam

October 19, 2001: Father Nguyen Van Ly sentenced to 15 years in prison and five years of house arrest

March 17, 2003: Nguyen Dan Que arrested again

January 29, 2004: Nguyen Dan Que sentenced to 30 months in prison, after a corrupt trial, for “abusing democratic rights to jeopardize the interests of the state”

Early 2005: Vietnam announces that Nguyen Dan Que, Father Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Dinh Huy, and Huynh Van Ba will be released on amnesty

February 18, 2007: Father Nguyen Van Ly arrested again for calling for an election boycott

March 30, 2007: Father Nguyen Van Ly is sentenced to eight years in prison under Article 88 for trying to organize a boycott of the nearing election and for allegedly harming national security; he has three strokes while in prison and lacks access to proper medical care

April 20, 2008: Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) arrested; he is known for his association with the Independent Journalists’ Club (founded 2007) and for his anti-China protests

September 18, 2008: Pham Thanh Nghien is arrested under Article 88 for her pro-democracy activities

May 24, 2009: Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, businessman and economist, is arrested for his social and economic writings

Summer 2009: Nguyen Tien Trung, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Le Cong Dinh, Tran Anh Kim, and Le Thang Long are all arrested

December 2009: Former Vietnamese military officer Tran Anh Kim convicted of subversion and sentenced to five and a half years


January 20, 2010: Tran Huynh Duy Thuc sentenced to prison for 16 years (with five years of house arrest) under Articles 79 and 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. Nguyen Tien Trung sentenced to seven years. Le Cong Dinh and Le Thang Long sentenced to five years each.

February 2010: Labor rights activists Do Thi Minh Hanh, Doan Huy Chuong, and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung detained after organizing workers at a shoe factory

March 17, 2010: Father Nguyen Van Ly temporarily released from prison to receive medical care after a reported stroke(s) suffered in prison

July 2010: Land rights activists Pham Van Thong arrested (see entry for May 30, 2011 for more information)

August 2010: Land rights activists Duong Kim Khai and Tran Thi Thuy arrested (see entry for May 30, 2011 for more information)

October 2010: Phan Thanh Hai (Anhbasg) arrested on charges of distributing anti-state information

October 2010: Do Thi Minh Hanh, Doan Huy Chuong, and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung indicted under Article 89 of Vietnam’s Penal Code for “disrupting national security” and are sentenced to seven, seven, and nine years in prison, respectively.

November 2010: Cu Huy Ha Vu arrested


January 29, 2011: Pham Thanh Nghien sentenced to four years in prison, with three years of probation

February 2011: Nguyen Dan Que once again arrested, this time for having documents allegedly calling for an “overthrow” of the repressive regime; he is currently in prison

February 2011: Land rights activists Cao Van Tinh arrested (see entry for May 30, 2011 for more information)

April 4, 2011: Cu Huy Ha Vu convicted of propaganda against the state and sentenced to seven years in prison and three years of house arrest

May 30, 2011 Seven land rights activists tried under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code for “activities aimed at overthrowing” the government. They receive sentences ranging from four to eight years. Later in 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declares that their detentions are arbitrary.

Mid-2011: A string of arrests leads to 17 activists charged under Articles 79 or 88; the activists go to trial in September of 2012

July 25, 2011: Father Nguyen Van Ly returned to prison after receiving medical parole in 2010

September 5, 2011: Ta Phong Tan, former police officer, arrested for her blog posts citing government corruption

October 2011: Dinh Dang Dinh, teacher and former military officer, arrested under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code


February 2012: Twenty-two members of a peaceful, religious environmental group are arrested

July 16, 2012: Three land rights activists tried under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code for “propaganda against the state.” They had led peaceful protests, voiced concerns about corruption concerning land, and were accused of distributing information and encouraging people to participate in anti-China protests. Dinh Van Nhuong and Do Van Hoa receive four years each (and three years house arrest), and Nguyen Kim Nhan receives 5.5 yeas (and four years house arrest).

July 30, 2012:  Ta Phong Tan’s mother, Dang Thi Kim Lieng, dies after setting herself on fire to protest her daughter’s unjust imprisonment

August 2012: Tran Quoc Hien flees to Thailand looking for asylum after being released from a five-year sentence for organizing a farmers’ protest in 2006

August 8, 2012: Dinh Dang Dinh sentenced to six years in prison under Article 88

August 11, 2012: Blogger Le Thanh Tung sentenced under Article 88 to five years in prison and four years of house arrest 

September 24, 2012: Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years probation for “anti-state propaganda.” He was originally sentenced to 30 months on charges of tax evasion in 2009 before being charged with this new charge. Ta Phong Tan sentenced to 10 years in prison with three years of probation. Phan Thanh Hai sentenced to four years in prison with three years probation.

September 26, 2012: Seventeen activists, mostly Catholics, arrested in 2011, face trial. Three are tried under Article 88 for conducting propaganda against the state. Chu Manh Son, who participated in anti-China protests, receives three years, reduced to 2.5 on appeal (and one year house arrest). Dau Van Duong and Tran Huu Duc, who also protested China, as well as supported dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu, receive 3.5 years (and 18 months house arrest) and three years and three months (and one year house arrest), respectively. The other fourteen activists are tried under Article 79 and are accused of having ties with peaceful, pro-democracy organization Viet Tan. Dang Ngoc Minh, Dang Xuan Dieu, Ho Duc Hoa, Ho Van Oanh, Nguyen Dang Minh Man, Nguyen Dinh Cuong, Nguyen Van Duyet, Nguyen Van Oai, Nong Hung Anh, Paulus Le Van Son, Thai Van Dung, Tran Minh Nhat, Nguyen Vinh Phuc Dang, and Nguyen Xuan Anh receive sentences ranging from three years to thirteen years.

November 8, 2012: Government Decree 92 makes religious recognition requirements stricter for organizations in Vietnam

November 24, 2012: First blog post posted on

December 27, 2012: Le Quoc Quan arrested for tax evasion. He was also jailed for three months in 2007, disbarred in 2008, and attacked by police earlier in 2012)

December 28, 2012: Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay), Ta Phong Tan, and Phan Thanh Hai’s appeal denied


January 9, 2013: Fourteen bloggers, writers, and activists convicted under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code and sentenced to between three and 13 years in prison (they were originally arrested in 2011); among those convicted are Ho Duc Hoa, Paulus Le Van Son, Dang Xuan Dieu, Nguyen Van Duyet, and Nong Hung Anh

January 28, 2013: Twenty-two members of a religious environmental group, arrested in February of 2012, are tried under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. They receive sentences ranging from a minimum of 10 years to life in prison (for the founder).

February 18, 2013: 88: The Repression of Cyber Dissidents, the documentary, is released

May 5, 2013: Peaceful, human rights picnics met with violence and arrests in Vietnam

May 16, 2013: Students Nguyen Kha and Phuong Uyen sentenced to eight and six years in prison under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code for distributing information about the Vietnam-China South China Sea conflict

May 26, 2013: Blogger Truong Duy Nhat arrested under Article 258 of Vietnam’s Penal Code for “abusing democratic freedoms”

May 27, 2013: Cu Huy Ha Vu starts a hunger strike in prison that lasts until June 21, 2013. Dieu Cay also led a five-week hunger strike in the summer of 2013, protesting treatment and conditions in prison

June 13, 2013: Blogger Pham Viet Dao arrested under Article 258 of Vietnam’s Penal Code

June 15, 2013: Dinh Nhat Uy arrested (he is the brother of student Dinh Nguyen Kha, who was sentenced in May of 2013)

July 15, 2013: Decree 72 adopted in Vietnam, placing even more rigid restrictions on Internet activities

September 1, 2013: Decree 72 goes into effect in Vietnam, further restricting Internet usage

September 1, 2013: Phan Thanh Hai released from prison and into house arrest

October 29, 2013: Dinh Nhat Uy receives a 15-month suspended sentence

November 12, 2013: Vietnam is elected to seat on the UN Human Rights Council amidst international protests

December 10, 2013: Network of Vietnamese Bloggers launched to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10, 2013: Forty-seven members of the US Congress send a letter to then-US Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to consider human rights violations during his visit with the Vietnamese Prime Minister


February 11, 2014: Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Van Minh, and Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh detained in a violent raid; others detained are later released, but these three remain in detention

February 18, 2014: Le Quoc Quan’s two-and-a-half year sentence upheld on appeal

March 2, 2014: Dinh Dang Dinh and Nguyen Huu Cau released from prison due to health issues; Nguyen Huu Cau had served over three decades in prison (out of a life sentence given for the themes of his poetry)

March 4, 2014: Truong Duy Nhat sentenced to two years in prison

March 19, 2014: Pham Viet Dao sentenced to fifteen months in prison

Spring 2014: Blogger Anh Ba Sam (Nguyen Huu Vinh) and his assistant are detained without formal charges

April 3, 2014: Dinh Dang Dinh, 50, dies of stomach cancer just one month after his release from prison

April 5, 2014: Cu Huy Ha Vu released early from prison and arrives in the United States two days later

April 12, 2014: Nguyen Tien Trung and Vu Duc Hoi released early from prison and go on to serve three years of probation

May 5, 2014: Writers Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy arrested under Article 258 of Vietnam’s Penal Code

June 20, 2014: The UN Human Rights Council upholds Vietnam’s appointment to the Council, despite Vietnam’s implementation of only 182 of 227 recommendations made by the Council to improve human rights in Vietnam

June 26, 2014: Truong Duy Nhat’s appeal over his two-year sentence is denied

June 26, 2014: Labor rights activist Do Thi Minh Hanh is released from prison, while colleagues Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung and Doan Huy Chuong remain in prison

July 4, 2014: Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam formed

July 21-31, 2014: UN religious expert surveys freedom of religion in Vietnam and is blocked from meeting with several groups and individuals

July 29, 2014: 35 members of the US Congress send letter to President Obama urging for human rights to be considered in any prospective trade agreement with Vietnam

August 26, 2014: Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Van Minh, and Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh sentenced to 3.5, 2.5 and 2 years, respectively

September 11, 2014: Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia released from prison after finishing out his six-year sentence

September 13, 2014: Blogger and ex-government employee, Pham Viet Dao, released from prison following completion of his 15-month sentence

September 27, 2014: Former lawmaker Le Van Tinh released from prison after completing most of a 20-year sentence, much of which was spent in solitary confinement

October 2, 2014: US partially lifts ban on weapons sales to Vietnam

October 2, 2014: Catholic activist Dau Van Duong released from prison at the end of his three-year sentence; he nearly died from a beating while detained

October 21, 2014: Blogger Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) released from prison and sent immediately to the United States

October 21, 2014: US Senators urge President Obama to reconsider human rights ramifications of easing US weapons sales to Vietnam

November 22, 2014: The 88 Project releases “5844 Days in Prison,” a video in honor of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, ahead of his birthday on November 29

November 29, 2014: People around the world celebrate the birthday of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and call for his release. The 88 Project released a video, in collaboration with Thuc’s family. In addition, Huong Nguyen, a contributor to and co-founder of The 88 Project, wrote a guest blog for Amnesty International about Thuc’s case. An Amnesty International group in France also planned activities in honor of Thuc, and many people expressed their support of Thuc on social media with pictures and messages of solidarity.

November 29, 2014: Blogger Hong Le Tho, 65, detained for posting “bad content”

December 4, 2014: Freedom House releases its Freedom on the Net 2014 report, finds that Vietnam is “Not Free”

December 6, 2014: Well-known writer Nguyen Quang Lap detained for his blog posts

December 10, 2014: Ted Osius sworn in as US Ambassador to Vietnam

December 12, 2014: Appeal of Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Van Minh, and Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh denied and their original sentences are upheld; the three human rights defenders were originally tried in August of 2014

December 17, 2014: The Committee Protect Journalists names Vietnam as the country with the 5th highest amount of imprisoned journalists in the world

December 27, 2014: Blogger Nguyen Dinh Ngoc (Nguyen Ngoc Gia) arrested

Late 2014: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2014 Annual Report finds that Vietnam has not come close to guaranteeing religious freedom for all


January 7, 2015: Tran Anh Kim, former military officer, released from prison after serving 5.5 years for his pro-democracy work

January 7, 2015: Newspaper Nguoi Cao Tuoi has its license taken away for its coverage of corruption; the editor, Kim Quoc Hoa, is targeted by authorities

February 10, 2015: Nguyen Quang Lap released due to his medical condition, remains under house arrest and under investigation

February 11, 2015: Hong Le Tho released and put under house arrest due to medical reasons; he remains under observation by the authorities

February 12, 2015: Bloggers Le Thi Phuong Anh, Do Nam Trung, and Pham Vinh Vu are sentenced under Article 258 (“abusing democratic freedoms”) to 12, 14, and 18 months in prison, respectively, for their association with anti-China protests

March 2015: Freedom House releases “Freedom in the World 2015” report, rates Vietnam as “Not Free,” with 6/7 freedom score (7 being the worst score), 5/7 score for civil liberties, and 7/7 for political rights

March 2015: US Commission on International Religious Freedom releases 2014 Report on Vietnam, deeming it a “country of particular concern” in regards to religious freedom

April 2015: Mai Thi Dung released from prison after serving 6 and 5-year sentences for her work towards freedom of religion in Vietnam

April 2, 2015: Bui Thi Minh Hang starts hunger strike in prison, protesting her treatment, as other inmates have been encouraged to harass her

April 30, 2015: Bipartisan group of US representatives introduces a bill that would make certain assistance to Vietnam contingent on respect for human rights

Mid-May 2015: Prisoner of conscience Pham Thi Loc, arrested 2011, released from prison. She reports back on the poor health of her cellmates, Ta Phong Tan, Can Thi Theu, and Nguyen Dang Minh Man

May 13, 2015: Ta Phong Tan, imprisoned blogger, begins hunger strike, protesting the cruel treatment of prisoners. The strike lasts until June 4.

May 13, 2015: Kim Quoc Hoa, former editor of a newspaper, charged under Article 258 for his work revealing corruption in one-party Vietnam

May 15, 2015: Le Thi Phuong Anh, activist arrested under Article 258, released after spending one year in prison

May 26, 2015: Blogger Truong Duy Nhat released from prison after serving two years under Article 258

May 28, 2015: 15 members of the U.S. Congress send a letter to Vietnam’s President and Prime Minister calling on Vietnam to release 28 political prisoners, including Tran Huynh Duy Thuc

June 2015: Human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan finishes his 30-month sentence for “tax evasion”

June 2015: Former prisoner of conscience Pham Thanh Nghien is attacked by police

July 1, 2015: Journalist Le Thanh Tung released a year early from prison after serving time under Article 88

July 13, 2015: A 54-year-old woman suffers serious bulldozer injuries after partaking in a land rights protest

July 20, 2015: A 45-year-old Vietnamese man dies while in a detention center, allegedly beaten to death

July 2015: Activists beaten at a hunger strike protest calling for the release of political prisoners

September 2015Blogger and former police officer Ta Phong Tan released early from her 10-year sentence, is immediately sent into exile in the U.S.

September 2015: Bui Thi Minh Hang adopted under U.S. Ambassdor Power’s #Freethe20 initiative

November 8, 2015Two activists beaten and detained while travelling

December 14, 2015: Nguyen Viet Dung sentenced to 15 months in prison

December 16, 2015: Nguyen Van Dai arrested

December 25, 2015: Hoang Duc Binh, Do Thi Minh Hanh, and other labor rights activists attacked by police in Ho Chi Minh City 


January 12, 2016: Thirty people temporarily detained in land rights protest in Hanoi 

January 15, 2016: Human rights activist Ho Thi Bich Khuong released after five-year sentence, finds land and home taken away by government 

February 2016: Bui Thi Minh Hang denied medical care in prison 

March 11, 2016: Collective hunger strike started by imprisoned activists 

March 23, 2016: Website blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (Anh Ba Sam) and coworker Nguyen Thi Minh sentenced to five and three years under Article 258 

March 24, 2016: Dinh Tat Thang sentenced to over seven months under Article 258 for speaking out against corruption 

March 30, 2016: Land rights activists Ngo Thi Minh Uoc, Nguyen Thi Be Hai, and Nguyen Thi Tri sentenced to four, three, and three years with two-three years probation under Article 88 

March 30, 2016: Blogger Nguyen Dinh Ngoc sentenced to four years in prison, plus three of probation 

April 28, 2016: Truong Minh Tam jailed for six days for speaking out on mass fish dieoff 

May 20, 2016: Long-term, multiple times prisoner of conscience Father Nguyen Van Ly released from prison 

May 22, 2016: US President Obama visits Vietnam, ends US-Vietnam weapons sale ban shortly thereafter 

May 24, 2016: Tran Huynh Duy Thuc begins hunger strike in prison 

June 5, 2016: Protesters gathered over fish die-offs removed from Hanoi by buses 

July 14, 2016: Ede minority protesters violently treated, some detained 

August 17, 2016: Massive gathering of protesters concerned with fish deaths and Formosa attacked and their movement restricted 

October 10, 2016: Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, a.k.a. Mother Mushroom, arrested 

November 2, 2016: Blogger Ho Van Hai arrested 

November 30, 2016: Sentence of 20 months upheld on appeal for land rights activist Can Thi Theu 

December 16, 2016: Tran Anh Kim and Le Thanh Tung sentenced to 13 and 12 years 

December 18, 2016: Blogger Nguyen Danh Dung arrested under Article 258 

December 20, 2016: Thugs attack former prisoner of conscience Pham Van Troi’s house 

December 26, 2016: Court upholds three year sentence for Nguyen Huu Quoc Du 

December 26, 2016: Plainclothes police abduct and injure young organizer Nguyen Ho Nhat

December 28, 2016: Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai’s prison term extended 


Early January 2017: Pham Dang Toan dies after police chase under unclear circumstances; coroner attributes death to “lack of oxygen” 

January 5, 2017: Human rights lawyer’s home is vandalized 

January 12, 2017: Catholic activist Dang Xuan Dieu released after six years, forced into exile in France 

January 13, 2017: State bars activists from meeting with US diplomat John Kerry during his visit to Vietnam

Mid-January 2017: Former prisoner of conscience Pham Thanh Nghien’s travel restricted 

January 23, 2017: Four activists, including former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Oai, arrested. Tran Thi Nga (labor rights), Nguyen Van Hoa (Article 258, Formosa protests), and Nguyen Thi Mien also arrested.

February 10, 2017: Bui Thi Minh Hang released after three years in prison under charges of “causing public disorder”

February 17, 2017: Police violently disperse a mass, peaceful protest recognizing the anniversary of the Chinese invasion in northern Vietnam 

February 24, 2017: Blogger Me Nam (Mother Mushroom)’s detention extended three months without written notice 

February 27, 2017: Pastor and activist Nguyen Trinh Ton and friend Nguyen Viet Tu abducted and assaulted

February 28, 2017: Former prisoners of conscience Pham Thanh Nghien and Huynh Anh Tu attacked while visiting a fellow former prisoner

March 2017: News comes that Me Nam (Mother Mushroom) has been held in solitary confinement and beaten, in a prison with notorious treatment of female prisoners of conscience

March 3, 2017: Vu Quang Thuan (Vo Phu Dong) and Nguyen Van Dien (Dien Ai Quoc) arrested for production of YouTube videos 

March 6, 2017: The US State Department releases its 2016 Country Report on Vietnam, highlighting continued human rights abuses

March 2017: US State Department names imprisoned blogger Me Nam (Mother Mushroom) one of 13 International Women of Courage, but she is unable to receive her recognition in person

March 2017: Front Line Defenders announces former prisoner of conscience and blogger Pham Thanh Nghien as a finalist for the 2017 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk

March 15, 2017: Police clash with those remembering the anniversary of the Spratly massacre

March 17, 2017: Blogger Bui Hieu Vo arrested under Article 88

March 21, 2017: Blogger Phan Kim Khanh arrested under Article 88 

March 21, 2017: Police violently disperse a Formosa compensation protest

April 2017: The German Association of Judges awards lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, held in pre-trial detention under Article 88 since 2015, their 2017 human rights award

April 2017: Vietnamese Security Ministry proposes draft bill banning use of audio and video recording devices as a matter of “national security,” in a move questioned by activists

April 2017: Vietnamese authorities still have not brought Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha to trial after holding them in pre-trial detention for 16 months, the maximum investigation time permitted 

April 6, 2017: Government announces blogger Nguyen Van Hoa will be prosecuted under Article 258 (“abusing democratic freedoms”), after his arrest in January 2017

April 6, 2017: This day marks the one year anniversary of the Formosa environmental disaster, a toxic spill that caused mass fish deaths and pollution, affecting thousands of peoples’ livelihoods. The day was met with protests and police resistance

April 11, 2017: Amnesty International releases “Death Sentences and Executions 2016,” revealing that 429 people were executed under the death penalty in Vietnam from August 2013-June 2016.

April 15, 2017: Land rights activists attacked, and 15 deceived into unlawful arrests 

Late April 2017: Land rights disputes lead to violence, protests, arrests, and a hostage situation in Dong Tam, Vietnam

April 26, 2017: Reporters Without Borders releases 2017 World Press Freedom Index, with Vietnam’s position at 175/180, unchanged from 2016  

April 26, 2017: The US Committee on International Religious Freedom releases its 2017 Annual Report, recommending Vietnam be designated as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern

April 26, 2017: The Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security withdraws its controversial proposal to ban the use of hidden audio and video recording devices

May 2, 2017: Female environmental activist Le My Hanh and friends attacked in filmed assault at private residence 

May 5, 2017: Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy released from prison after serving three year sentence 

May 11, 2017: Activist Tran Thi Nga sees lawyer for first time since January 21, 2017 arrest. She is reportedly in poor health and has been charged under Article 88 

May 12, 2017: Police issue nationwide wanted notice for Bach Hong Quyen under Article 245 (“disturbing public order”) for role in recent protest

May 15, 2017: Environmental and labor rights activist Hoang Duc Binh arrested in a violent spectacle, charged under Article 257 and 258

May 18, 2017: Buddhist follower Vuong Vuan Tha and family arrested in violent raid at their home

May 21, 2017: Catholic singer Tran Vu Anh Binh released from prison four months ahead of end of six year sentence

May 26, 2017: Appeals court upholds 12 and 13-year sentences for ex-soldier Le Thanh Tung and retired Lt. Colonel Tran Anh Kim

June 2, 2017: Blogger Me Nam, at the end of her investigation period in in pre-trial detention, sends a letter to request beginning of her defense, signaling a possible trial in the near future

June 7, 2017: Vandals pelt rocks at a church with ties to anti-Formosa movement

June 8, 2017: Thugs threaten former prisoner of conscience Le Quoc Quan and his family at their home

June 8, 2017: Blogger and activist Nguyen Dang Vu taken and held for 31 hours by police

June 20, 2017: Vietnamese National Assembly passed the Law amending the Criminal Code, broadening the scope of national security provisions by criminalizing the act of “preparation” for such “crimes,” and holding lawyers criminally accountable for failing to report on clients’s national security crimes

June 25, 2017: Activist Huynh Anh Tuan beaten after attempting to obtain information following a protest and detentions 

June 25, 2017: Professor and former prisoner of conscience Pham Minh Hoang deported to France after Vietnamese citizenship revoked

June 29, 2017: Young activist Tran Hoang Phuc kidnapped by police, later arrested under Article 88. He had been kidnapped earlier in 2017 as well. 

June 29, 2017: Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (also known as Me Nam, or Mother Mushroom) sentenced to 10 years under Article 88 

July 3, 2017: 32 organizations release open letter calling for independent investigation into suspicious death of Hoa Hao Buddhist Nguyen Huu Tan, who died while in custody on May 3, 2017, detained under Article 88

July 3, 2017: Group of 1,000 Catholics from Central Vietnam trek to a local government office to petition for their fair compensation from the government after the Formosa toxic

July 7, 2017: Land rights activists, prisoners of conscience Nguyen Thi Tri and Nguyen Thi Be Hai released from prison upon completion of three year sentences; co-defendant Ngo Thi Minh Uoc remains in prison

July 22, 2017: Police “inspectors” interfere with singer Mai Khoi’s small show in Hanoi

July 24, 2017: Nguyen Hieu, a blogger and activist, beaten for the second time in two weeks, sustaining severe injuries, and also questioned in custody, while filming harassment of former prisoner of conscience Bui Thi Minh Hang

July 24, 2017: Veteran Le Dinh Luong, 52, arrested on charges of subversion

July 25, 2017: Land and labor rights activist Tran Thi Nga sentenced to nine years in prison and five years of probation at a one-day trial

July 28, 2017: Son and daughter-in-law of recently-arrested Le Dinh Luong targeted by police, beaten and held in custody

July 30, 2017: Former POCs Nguyen Trung Ton, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Bac Truyen (assumed arrested, due to kidnapping), and Pham Van Troi all arrested for ties to various organizations

Early August 2017: Tran Tuan Kiet, who works at a college, arrested under Article 258 for “abusing democratic freedoms.” He had previously been singled out by school administration for commenting on school affairs, such as an unjust promotion.

August 2017: Prisoners of conscience Le Thanh Tung and Tran Anh Kim transferred to different prisons: their families were not notified of the transfers

August 4, 2017: Former POC Nguyen Trung Truc becomes the fifth member of the Brotherhood for Democracy arrested under Article 79 in one week, following the arrests of four other members on July 30.

August 2017: Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and colleague Le Thu Ha pre-trial detention extended and charged under additional provision, Article 79

August 18, 2017: In a letter dated from this day, authorities extend pre-trial detention of environmental activist Luu Van Vinh through October 31

August 20, 2017: Authorities announce postponement of Nguyen Van Oai’s trial for unknown reasons, originally scheduled for August 21

September 1, 2017: Former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Tuc arrested under Article 79 for ties to the Brotherhood for Democracy

September 4, 2017: Assailants backing the government attack Catholic priest Nguyen Duy Tan and members of his community at their church, in the latest string of attacks on Catholic groups for speaking out against the government

September 6, 2017: A teacher named Pham Ngoc Lan is called in and questioned by police on the first day of her school year for alleged ties to the Brotherhood for Democracy

September 18, 2017: Nguyen Van Oai sentenced to five years in prison under Article 304 (“failing to execute probation”) in a closed off trial

September 20, 2017VOICE delegate Dinh Thao gives a statement before the UN Human Rights Council. Watch the video, here. Alongside Dinh Thao was Le Thi Minh Ha, wife of the blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (Anh Ba Sam) who was sentenced to 5 years for writing against the Government.

September 25, 2017: Protesters at a textile factory in northern Vietnam violently dispersed with electric batons, water cannons, and their tents burned, after months of protests against pollution

September 27, 2017: Founder of Republican Party in Vietnam, and former prisoner of conscience, Nguyen Viet Dung, kidnapped and arrested under Article 88 

October 5, 2017: Retired teacher Dao Quang Thuc arrested under Article 79 for involvement in peaceful protests

October 7, 2017: Activist Nguyen Dang Vu kidnapped, questioned, and held by police for 20 hours

October 17, 2017: Female environmental activist Tran Thi Xuan arrested under Article 79 for unclear reasons

October 25, 2017: Blogger Phan Kim Khanh, 24, convicted in a four-hour trial of violating Article 88 and sentenced to six years in prison and four years of house arrest

October 30, 2017: Environmental and labor activist Hoang Duc Binh investigation period ends, will tried for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state,” and could face between two and seven years in jail

November 1, 2017: Former prisoner of conscience and land rights activist Bui Thi Minh Hang taken for police interrogation for several hours for unknown reasons, money and smartphone confiscated

November 1, 2017Attendees met with police resistance and openly attacked by pro-government thugs at the commemoration ceremony in southeast Vietnam for Ngo Dinh Diem, the former South Vietnamese President who was assassinated during a coup in 1963.

Early November 2017: Activists summoned for questioning, harassed, intimidated, followed, surveilled, and their movement restricted leading up to and during the APEC Summit in Da Nang. Dissident artist Mai Khoi locked in her home after protesting US President Trump, visited by secret police, and later evicted from home.

November 7, 2017: Seventeen international human rights organizations release letter appealing for release of Vietnamese prisoners of conscience ahead of APEC Summit

November 8, 2017: The Vietnamese, an independent magazine in English that covers Vietnamese politics and human rights, launched

Mid-November 2017: Fourteen nongovernmental organizations launch the NOW! Campaign to bring awareness to prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, including a database of the 165 prisoners

November 14, 2017: The Ministry of Information and Communication issued an order to prohibit the online magazine Nguoi Quan Ly (The Manager) from engaging in any and all publication activities for three months, due to an August 21, 2017 article it had published in relation to the anti-corruption campaign in Binh Phuoc Province.

November 15, 2017: Hanoi police kidnap activist Truong Van Dung for a day-long interrogation about his connection with the Brotherhood for Democracy after he defied police summons. He had staged a protest calling on APEC leaders to remember human rights.

November 16, 2017: Three activists detained after meeting with EU representatives in Hanoi ahead of the EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in December. Nguyen Quang A, Bui Thi Minh Hang, and Pham Doan Trang were all detained and later released, but Trang was detained for several hours before being released in the evening and her communications devices were confiscated.

Mid-November 2017: Vietnam ranked “Not Free,” with score of 76/100 (100 is least free score) on Freedom House’s Freedom of the Net 2017 report

November 21, 2017: Vietnamese civil society activists watched and intimidated following another series of meetings with foreign representatives to discuss the on-the-ground human rights situation in Vietnam. 

November 24, 2017: Lawyer Ha Huy Son, Nguyen Van Dien’s defense counsel, met with Dien for the first time in Detention center No. 1 in Hanoi, and shared that Dien is in good health and spirit. Authorities finish investigation into Dien and his video blogging partner, Vu Quang Thuan, charging them under Article 88

November 26, 2017: Lawyer Vo An Don, one of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s defense counsels, disbarred from the Bar Federation of Phu Yen province

November 27, 2017: Journalist Nguyen Van Hoa sentenced to seven years in prison and three years of probation under Article 88 after an unannounced, brief trial in Ha Tinh, without legal representation. Hoa had reported on the toxic Formosa environmental disaster that began in April 2016, sometimes using a drone.

November 27, 2017: Targeted for his activism, Truong Van Dung’s home attacked with a mess of offensive materials, the second time in recent days.

November 30, 2017: Mother Mushroom’s appeal denied in a short, secretive trial. Supporters were attacked outside the courthouse and prohibited from entering.

December 1, 2017: Annual EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in Vietnam follows trials of two high-profile dissidents; according to a press release after the dialogue, the delegation did discuss the “deterioration of civil and political rights” in Vietnam.

December 5, 2017: Father Joan Luu Ngoc Quynh of Thai Ha Redemptorist Church in Hanoi was stopped at Noi Bai International Airport when he was on the way to go to Paris to participate in a religious event. On December 6, at Tan Son Nhat airport in HCMC, Father JB Nguyen Dinh Thuc of Song Ngoc parish, Nghe An province, was prevented from going to Australia to attend a hearing on Vietnam human rights by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights of the Australian Parliament.

Annual Events

March 8: International Women’s Day

April 6: Anniversary of Formosa environmental disaster in Central Vietnam

May 3: World Press Freedom Day

May 11: Vietnam Human Rights Day

September 2: Vietnam National Day (independence; prisoners are sometimes granted amnesty on this day)

October 15/16: Blog Action Day

November 24: Anniversary of the founding of The 88 Project

December 10: Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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