October 7, 2021 marks the first anniversary of the arrest of journalist Pham Doan Trang by the Vietnamese authorities. She was taken into custody that day and was subsequently charged with “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of 1999 Penal Code and “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of 2015 Penal Code.
(Previous reports say she was arrested near midnight of October 6, 2020.)
Since then, she has been held incommunicado. Neither family visitation nor legal representation is granted, her family and lawyer confirmed with LIV. In late August 2021, Hanoi’s Bureau of Security Investigation informed Doan Trang’s lawyer that the state’s investigation against her had concluded and that they had recommended a formal indictment based on Article 88, indicating that the Article 117 charge had been dropped. She now faces a possible 20-year prison sentence.
As a journalist, Pham Doan Trang has dedicated her career to documenting and shedding light on the many atrocities and human rights violations committed by the Vietnamese government, despite the constant threat to her life and safety. Her work has been appreciated by Vietnamese people inside and outside of Vietnam, and has granted her international acclaim. She has also helped bring the attention of the global community towards the abuses of the Vietnamese Communist Party.
Legal Initiatives for Vietnam, Luat Khoa Magazine, and The Vietnamese Magazine stand firm on our condemnation of the actions committed by the Vietnamese government against our co-founder, Pham Doan Trang. The constant harassment she faced from the state, coupled with her arrest and detention, are clear and blatant violations of her right to free speech. Likewise, they constitute a direct attack against the free press and independent unbiased journalism. In the words of our Co-director and Editor-in-Chief of The Vietnamese Magazine, Tran Quynh Vi, “A journalist should be allowed to report and a writer must be able to publish her books in every corner of this world. Journalism is not a crime and journalists should not be treated as criminals. The suppression of these basic human rights should be treated as a crime.”
We once again call on our friends and colleagues to demand the unconditional and immediate release of Pham Doan Trang, as well as the dropping of all bogus criminal charges lobbed against her. We will continue to push for what is right and just until she is given her freedom.
Legal Initiatives for Vietnam
Luat Khoa Magazine
The Vietnamese Magazine