In recent days, the international community continues to speak up about the Vietnamese government’s arrest of activist Pham Doan Trang.
On Friday, October 9, 2020, Assistant Secretary of the United States for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor posted on Twitter that Washington “condemns the arrest of the writer, democracy and human rights activist Pham Doan Trang.”
“We urge the Vietnamese government to immediately release her and drop all the charges against her,” added Robert A. Destro.
On the same day, a high-ranking diplomat from Europe also demanded the release of the activist detained by the Vietnamese security agency on October 6 in Ho Chi Minh City.
Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Tomáš Petříček wrote on Twitter: “I am believed with deep concern about the arrest of Ms. Pham Doan Trang, winner of the 2017 Homo Homini Prize which marked her outstanding contributions to the promotion of human rights, democracy and the peaceful resolution of political conflicts.”
“I demanded her unconditional release and called on the Vietnamese government to respect international legal commitments.”
Before that, many human rights organizations and international press have voiced out about this arrest.
The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) even asked politicians to intervene to release Pham Doan Trang.
The FEP noted that Vietnam has signed a trade agreement with the EU, and this agreement still needs to be approved by parliaments.
The FEP, which represents 29 publisher associations in different countries, wrote to European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombroskis and several European Parliament members.
In the letter, FEP President Peter Kraus vom Cliff wrote: “We rely very much on your intervention and support for civil society in Vietnam, and calling for Pham Doan Trang to be released.“
The charge “conducting anti-state propaganda”
News of Pham Doan Trang’s arrest was officially announced on the website of the Ministry of Public Security on October 7, and posted on Vietnamese media on the same day.
The ministry said that the arrest, emergency search and detention were carried out by the Hanoi security agency in coordination with a number of professional units of the Ministry of Public Security and the Ho Chi Minh City police.
The report added that Ms. Pham Doan Trang was charged with “Propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code, and “Doing, possessing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and articles to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” as stipulated in Article 117 of the Criminal Code 2015.
However, according to an update on October 11 on Pham Doan Trang’s personal Facebook page, the Hanoi police informed her family that she was detained for “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code, and currently being detained in the Detention Center No. 1 of the Hanoi police.
Immediately after the arrest, on October 7, Pham Doan Trang’s personal Facebook page posted a notice that this page was managed and controlled by “the admin authorized by Pham Doan Trang to manage the account in case she was arrested.”
The site’s current admin (moderator), who claims to be “representing Doan Trang’s help group“, said until Saturday 10/10, apart from the detention paper, “Trang’s family has yet to receive necessary papers related to the case such as arrest warrant, probing decision of the case.”
Therefore, it is not clear whether she is being probed under two charges of the Penal Code 1999 and the Criminal Code 2015 penal as stated by the Ministry of Public Security on October 7, or just under the provisions of the 1999 Penal Code.
Besides not receiving the requested documents, “the family has not yet been able to send essential clothes and personal belongings to the Trang,” added Facebook page administrator Pham Doan Trang.