Mr. Truong Van Dung – a Hanoi resident who often participates in civil activities to demand the rights of the people – was arrested by the Hanoi Police in the early morning of May 21 at his home in Hanoi on charges of “conducting anti-state propaganda.”
Ms. Nghiem Thi Hop, Mr. Truong Van Dung’s wife, confirmed this news to RFA by phone on the evening of the same day:
“This morning I opened the door to go to a local market to buy food at 7 o’clock, he was at home. Later when I was buying, the neighbor called me to say he was arrested. I got back around 7:30 when they had already taken him away. I saw policemen wearing civilian clothes. They told me to open the door to search my house.”
Citing information from the Security Investigation Agency of the Hanoi City Police, Vietnam’s state-controlled media said that Mr. Truong Van Dung, born in 1958, was probed and detained for investigation on the crime of propaganda against the state under Article 88 of the Penal Code 1999, amended and supplemented in 2009.
Ms. Nghiem Thi Hop said that after arresting her husband, the police conducted a search of their house and confiscated books, a computer, and banners.
The police then wrote an invitation to her to the Hanoi City Public Security Investigation Security Agency to work and signed for the items they confiscated. Ms. Nghiem went up to work with the police in the afternoon of the same day, but she refused to sign about the books and banners… in the boxes confiscated by the police. She said the books confiscated were mainly books on human rights.
Mr. Truong Van Dung was an active participant in civil activities in Hanoi such as protesting against China’s occupation of the Hoang Sa (Paracels), commemorating the martyrs who sacrificed to protect the Hoang Sa and the Truong Sa (Spratlys), protesting against the Formosa company for polluting the marine environment in four central provinces of Vietnam in 2016.
Because of his participation in this activity, Mr. Dung was repeatedly detained and even beaten by the police. According to RFA statistics, from 2013 to 2018, Mr. Dung was beaten by the police at least six times.
The last time he was beaten was on March 14, 2018, when he was beaten to the point of breaking his tooth at the Security Investigation Agency of Hanoi City Police after commemorating the fallen martyrs who defended Gac Ma (South Johnson Reef) in Spratlys during a naval battle with China in 1988. Mr. Dung was later stolen his motorbike and VND4 million in cash. Ms. Hop then went to the police station to ask for the bike and money back but was refused. The police told her that there was no vehicle or money.
Ms. Hop said that she did not know much about Mr. Dung’s activities, but someone in the family once told Mr. Dung: “We do the right thing, but the State did not accept our words, then they arrested us.”
But Mr. Dung told his wife: “I’m not afraid because I say the right thing and do the right thing. No need to fear!”
Since Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s visit to the US from May 12 to 17, Vietnamese authorities have arrested at least two people on charges of violating national security laws, Article 331. Criminal Law 2015 and Article 88 of the old Penal Code. These are laws that are internationally condemned as opaque and are often used by the Vietnamese government to suppress peaceful critics.
The last person arrested a few days before Mr. Dung was Mrs. Cao Thi Cuc, the owner of the land of Tinh That Bong Lai, a home Buddhist practice in Long An.
Before Mr. Chinh’s departure to the US, Vietnam released two prisoners of conscience the US, Ho Duc Hoa, and Tran Thi Thuy.