Lawyer NGUYEN Van Dai was arrested [i] in Hanoi on Dec. 16, 2015 on the charge of „conducting propaganda against the Socialist State Vietnam“ (Art. 88 of the Penal Code of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) when he was on his way to meet with members of the European Union delegation who were in Hanoi for the annual human rights dialogue with Vietnam.[ii]
Officers of the Ministry of Public Security searched his home afterwards and confiscated many computers, laptops, cell phones, hard disks, USB sticks and documents. On the same day Ms. LE Thu Ha, his assistant, was also arrested in his office in Hanoi. Both are currently in investigative custody in camp B14 in Hanoi. If convicted under Art.88 of the Vietnam’s Penal Code, they could face up to twenty years in prison.
The human rights defender Dai has been living in constant danger of physical harm. Only in 2015, he was assaulted three times by public security officers and apparently hired thugs. On December 6, 2015, on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, he gave a lecture about “Human Rights in Vietnam´s Constitution” in Nghe An Province. After the presentation, a group of masked persons assaulted him and three of his colleagues, and injured them severely.[iii]
Since more than a decade, lawyer NGUYEN Van Dai, born in 1969, has been one of the most famous civil rights activists in Vietnam. Already in 2007, he was sentenced to four years in prison and four years of house arrest for anti-socialist propaganda. The house arrest just ended in March 2015.
VETO! urges the Vietnamese government to
Release the human rights defenders, lawyer NGUYEN Van Dai and Ms. LE Thu Ha immediately and unconditionally;
Abolish the Art. 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code about „conducting propaganda against the Socialist State Vietnam“;
Meet the obligations of a member state of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and respect the right to freedom of expression and association, and
Protect the human rights defenders from threats to health and life.