Vietnamese democracy advocate Huyn Dac Tuy was sentenced on Wednesday by a court in southern Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province to a six-year prison term, followed by three years’ probation, for criticizing the country’s communist government in a series of online posts, according to state media reports.
Director of the Tuy Nguyet Construction Company in Quang Ngai, Tuy was arrested by the provincial Investigation Security Agency on February 22 and was charged with “making, storing, and distributing information and documents opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”
Tuy had used his personal Facebook page to post and share “negative articles” about Vietnam’s government and ruling party, and had encouraged his followers and friends online to resist state authorities, Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre newspaper said on Aug. 21.
He was charged and convicted under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code 2015, which imposes prison terms of from five to 12 years for disseminating writings “insulting the people’s government,” with sentences of from 10 to 20 years given in cases deemed especially serious.
Other Facebook users have also been arrested or questioned in Vietnam this year for posting politically sensitive content online.
On Jan. 30, Duong Thi Lanh, 36, was taken into custody in central Vietnam’s Dak Nong province for writing about human rights issues and democracy in posts on her Facebook account, with 21-year-old university student Tran Ngoc Phuc summoned for questioning by police a month later for posting material deemed harmful to the ruling Communist Party and government.
And on Jan. 23, Facebook user Tran Van Quyen, 20, was arrested in southern Vietnam’s Binh Duong province for allegedly joining Viet Tan—an unsanctioned pro-democracy party with members inside Vietnam and abroad, Quyen’s brother and lawyer told RFA in an earlier report.
Vietnam, with a population of 92 million people, of which 55 million are estimated to be users of Facebook, has been consistently rated “not free” in the areas of internet and press freedom by Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog group.
Dissent is not tolerated in the communist nation, and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Channhu Hoang. Written in English by Richard Finney.