Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Vietnamese judicial authorities to release Tran Thi Nga, an internationally recognized human rights defender and blogger who is due to go on trial tomorrow in Phu Ly, the capital of the northern province of Ha Nam.
Detained since 21 January, when she was arrested at her Phu Ly home, this mother of two is facing up to 12 years in prison on a charge of violating article 88 of the penal code by “using the Internet to spread propaganda videos and writings.”
Blogging under the name of Thuy Nga, she defends migrant workers and people whose land has been seized by the state. She is also a member of Vietnamese Women For Human Rights, which supports and helps human rights defenders.
In September 2013, Nga walked into a complaints bureau in Phu Ly and accused several people there of being plainclothes police officers who had persecuted her and other citizens. She took care to film the scene and the video can be seen on YouTube, where it is has been reposted many times under different pseudonyms.
Although detained since January, Ngo saw her lawyer for the first time in May. He reported that her health has worsened steadily in prison. She is suffering from complications from an injury in May 2014, when five men beat her with steel rods after she visited Nguyen Tuong Thuy, a blogger who had just spoken about human rights at visiting US President Barack Obama’s residence.
“We are outraged by the detention of this activist, who has always fought courageously to protest against Vietnamese government persecution,” RSF said. “The authorities must free Tran Thi Nga, who has committed no crime and whose health is very worrying. She is not receiving adequate medical care and is eating very little.”
Vietnam’s one-party state is cracking down more and more on bloggers and activists, who are the only source of independently-reported news and information for the public. As a result, Vietnam is now the world’s second biggest prison for citizen-journalists, after China.
Last month, the dissident Pham Minh Hoang was deported to Franceafter being stripped of his Vietnamese citizenship, and the blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was sentenced to ten years in prison. The media are entirely government-controlled and just provide state propaganda.
(c) 2017 Reports without Borders