HRW calls for the immediate release of human rights activist arrested and charged in Vietnam News
© WikiMedia (Narih Lee)
HRW calls for the immediate release of human rights activist arrested and charged in Vietnam

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Monday called on Vietnamese authorities to immediately release human rights activist Truong Van Dung. Van Dung was arrested and charged in May 2022 with “conducting propaganda against the government.” The organization further urged the government to drop all charges against Van Dung as he awaits trial and faces a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment. HRW says that any conviction against Van Dung would be a violation of his freedom of expression.

Van Dung is an active advocate for basic human rights and has participated in protests in favor of environmental protection and against the Vietnamese elections in 2018, which he termed unfair. His recent arrest was predicated on alleged participation in protests against the government, an offense criminalized under articles 88 and 117 of Vietnam’s penal code.

HRW sees this case as another example of the kind of civil and political rights violations that it highlighted as a threat to human rights promotion in the Vietnam section of its world report 2023. According to the report, rights including freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly have been violated through the crackdown of major activists. Human rights officials and the U.S. Department of State have previously raised alarm over these violations, which they say silence activists and amount to human rights abuse.

Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson commented:

Truong Van Dung is the latest in a long line of human rights defenders silenced by the Vietnamese government for protesting against human rights violations and advocating for reforms…Democratic governments forging closer ties with Vietnam need to speak out publicly and forcefully in their support and call on Vietnam to release all political prisoners and take genuine steps toward reform.

Vietnamese authorities denied any such violations and claimed that the report by HRW contained false information.