Ahead of peaceful activist Ha Van Nam’s trial in a court in Viet Nam tomorrow, Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Adviser, said:
Yet another Vietnamese activist is being unfairly punished for speaking out on Facebook.
“Yet another Vietnamese activist is being unfairly punished for speaking out on Facebook. Ha Van Nam’s alleged crime was simply to criticize rampant corruption in hugely popular live streams.
“Ha Van Nam was peacefully reporting allegations of injustice, human rights violations and corruption in Vietnam. This vindictive prosecution simply proves his point. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him and drop all charges against him.”
At 5am on 5 March 2019, public security officials from Bac Ninh province, in northern Viet Nam, arrested Ha Van Nam, accusing him of “disturbing public order” under article 318 of Viet Nam’s 2015 Penal Code.
Currently detained at the Bac Ninh detention center, Ha Van Nam faces a maximum seven-year term of imprisonment if he is convicted.
Ha Van Nam is well known for his activism against corruption and injustice, and the previous day had live streamed himself on Facebook, urging people to continue the fight against human rights violations and abuses.
Ha Van Nam has repeatedly faced harassment and intimidation in connection with human rights work. On 28 January 2019, he was abducted by unidentified men, who dragged him into a car and drove him to an unknown location where they beat him and warned him to stop what he was doing. The assault resulted in serious injuries all over his body.
He immediately filed a complaint with the local police; however, the police never launched an investigation and to date no one has been held to account for the attack. On 12 February, he found blood smeared all over his car, as well as chicken heads placed on it – an apparent death threat.
In May 2019, Amnesty International published research showing that the number of prisoners of conscience jailed across Viet Nam had surged by one-third to 128, in signs of a growing crackdown on peaceful activism over the past year. Around 10 percent of those jailed were detained in connection with their social media activity.