On 12 December 2014, the Dong Thap Appellate Court in Vietnam upheld the previous sentence handed down to human rights defender Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang and two other protesters Mr Nguyen Van Minh and Ms Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, who were imprisoned on charges of “causing public disorder” under Article 245 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code
On 12 December 2014, the Dong Thap Appellate Court in Vietnam upheld the previous sentence handed down to human rights defender Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang and two other protesters Mr Nguyen Van Minh and Ms Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, who were imprisoned on charges of “causing public disorder” under Article 245 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code.
Bui Thi Minh Hang is a human rights defender and blogger. She publishes information on human rights violations in Vietnam and provides support to victims of land grabs. Bui Thi Minh Hang was previously sent to a ‘re-education camp’ for two years by the People’s Committee of Hanoi City, and was eventually released after six months in June 2012. Her conviction is believed to have resulted from the human rights defender’s work on land rights. Bui Thi Minh Hang was one of 21 people beaten and detained when they attempted to visit the partner of a human rights lawyer who defends victims of forced evictions. The visit was to provide support to the woman after the detention of her husband in a police raid on their house on 9 February 2014. 19 of those detained were released the next day, but Bui Thi Minh Hang and two other activists were charged with “causing public disorder” and kept in custody.
On 26 August 2014, in a one-day trial, Bui Thi Minh Hang was sentenced by the Court of First Instance to three-years’ imprisonment. Her co-defendants, Nguyen Van Minh and Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, religious workers from the independent Buddhist Church, faced two-and-half-year and two-year sentences respectively.
In recent weeks, Vietnamese authorities have intensified the crackdown on freedom of expression, arresting two prominent bloggers. On 29 November 2014, police in Ho Chi Minh City detained blogger Mr Hong Le Tho charging him with “abusing democratic freedoms against the interest of the State” under Article 258 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code. The suthorities accused Hong Le Tho of posting articles in his blog which included false information that “discredit state agencies and create distrust”. On 6 December 2014, the police in Ho Chi Minh City detained blogger Mr Nguyen Quang Lap under the same charges for posting articles online criticising the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party and the government.
Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned about the recent verdict of the Dong Thap Appellate Court and the continued imprisonment of human rights defender Bui Thi Minh Hang. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release her and her co-defendants. For more information concerning the pre-trial detention of Bui Thi Minh Hang, please see Front Line Defenders previous urgent appeal.