Vietnam Briefing October 10, 2022: Appellate Trial For Tinh That Bong Lai Practitioners Scheduled For October 14

The Vietnam Briefing, released every Monday morning Vietnam time, looks at Vietnam’s social and political developments of the past week.

Vietnam Briefing October 10, 2022: Appellate Trial For Tinh That Bong Lai Practitioners Scheduled For October 14
Tinh That Bong Lai practitioners in their first-instance hearing on July 20 (left); the 13th Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) concluded its 6th plenary session on October 9 (right). Photo: Lao Dong/ VOV.

Vietnamese journalist Pham Doan Trang was transferred to An Phuoc Prison

  • Vietnamese journalist and human rights defender Pham Doan Trang was transferred from Hoa Lo Detention Center in Hanoi to An Phuoc Prison in Vietnam’s southern Binh Duong Province on October 1, according to the latest update from her family. The new prison is located about 100 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City center. Other political prisoners who are being jailed in An Phuoc Prison include journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy and student activist Tran Hoang Phuc.
  • Vietnamese authorities often send political prisoners to detention centers located far from their families as an extra form of punishment. Last month, Nguyen Thi Tam, a Vietnamese land rights activist, was transferred to Gia Trung Prison in Gia Lai Province, which is nearly 1,200 kilometers from her home. Trinh Ba Phuong, another land rights activist, is being held at An Diem Prison in Quang Nam Province, which is located around 800 km from his home.
  • In another update from Tran Phuong Thao, wife of the NGO leader Dang Dinh Bach, reported by The 88 Project on October 4, Bach’s lawyers have not received the official copy of the verdict from his last appellate trial. Thao said that Bach is still being held at Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1 in Hanoi. She added that the detention center authorities had repeatedly refused her request to send traditional remedies to Bach to alleviate his chronic asthma.

Appellate trial for six convicted Tinh That Bong Lai practitioners to start this month

  • The Long An Provincial People’s Court is holding an appellate hearing for six convicted practitioners from Tinh That Bong Lai, an independent Buddhist temple, at 8 a.m. on October 14, according to a Facebook update from attorney Dang Dinh Manh, one of the temple’s defense lawyers. The trial will be open to the public.
  • Earlier in July, six people from Tinh That Bong Lai were sentenced to a total of 23 and a half years in prison under Article 331 for “abusing democratic freedoms.” Last month, the Long An Provincial Police illegally searched the temple and forcefully took DNA samples from its practitioners without any legal warrant or approval from the temple’s owners. In an interview with RFA following the incident, attorney Dang Dinh Manh asked the local police to follow the law when it comes to the collection of DNA samples from Tinh That Bong Lai practitioners.
  • Previously, around 50 policemen appeared at the temple on the morning of September 24 and proceeded to search the premises and collect saliva and hair samples from temple members, including its young orphans. The police even set up roadblocks in the surrounding area of Tinh That Bong Lai and prevented the temple’s lawyers from going inside the temple, according to attorney Manh.
  • “We [are not] against the collection of DNA samples by security agencies, especially when this is one of the many methods regulated by the state,” Manh said. “[But] we require them to conduct DNA sampling on our clients on the basis of the law,” he added.

Vietnamese Facebook user arrested for posting “anti-state video”

  • Nguyen Minh Son, 60, a Vietnamese Facebook user who often writes about Vietnam’s political and social issues, was arrested by Hanoi Police Department and charged with “distributing anti-state propaganda” under Article 117, RFA reported. According to the arrest warrant, Son will be detained from September 28, 2022, to January 25, 2023, for further investigation into his alleged “anti-State activities.”
  • Tran Bao Han, Son’s nephew, told RFA that the police agency summoned his uncle to a local police station on September 28 for interrogation and arrested him there.
  • According to the summons, the interrogation session was about a video clip that Son posted on his Facebook account, named "Son Nguyen," on December 31, 2021. The police escorted Son back to his house and conducted a house search. The video was no longer visible on social media and its content remains unclear. The Facebook user is currently detained in Hoa Lo Detention Center, Hanoi City.
  • “Some of his documents, books and computers were taken away,” said Han, adding that Son’s family is still not aware of the allegations that have been made against him. “They have just detained him for investigation,” he said.

  • Dang Dang Phuoc, a Vietnamese music teacher in Dak Lak Province, reportedly refused legal assistance following his arrest on September 8, RFA reported, quoting Phuoc’s family.
  • On September 14, the Security Investigation Agency of the Dak Lak Provincial Police Department sent Phuoc’s family a notice, which had been issued two days earlier, stating that “Phuoc did not ask for a defense [lawyer] and [chose to] protect his own interests during the investigation process.”
  • Le Thi Ha, Phuoc’s wife, told RFA that she doesn’t believe the content of the police notice, adding that her husband previously asked her to hire a lawyer for him in case he was arrested. “I have talked to many other families of political prisoners and learned that every family received a notice of refusal of a lawyer. But when they talked to the prisoner [they discovered that] it’s not the truth,” Ha said.
  • Phuoc’s family invited lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association to defend him in court. Mieng said he had completed the procedures to register as Phuoc’s lawyer at the Dak Lak Province’s police headquarters on September 12. The lawyer also told RFA that if a case related to national security was being investigated, the local chief procurator could decide to deny the defendant a lawyer in order to ensure the investigation’s secrecy.

Members of the U.S.-based Provisional Government of Vietnam were jailed for “attempting to overthrow the government”

  • Vietnam’s State media on October 6 reported that a court in Kien Giang Province had sentenced Nguyen Van Nghia and Duong Thi Be, who are members of the U.S.-based Provisional Government of Vietnam, a political organization, to seven years and five years in jail on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government.”
  • On September 30, a court in An Giang Province also sentenced Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tien, another organisation member, to 12 years in prison and four years of probation on the same charge.
  • This year, Vietnam has imprisoned at least 20 people with alleged connections to the Provisional Government of Vietnam on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government.” The political organization, founded by Dao Minh Quan, a Vietnamese-American politician, was designated as a terrorist organization by Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security. However, according to Quan, there was no evidence to back Hanoi’s accusations.

The 13th Central Committee of Vietnam’s Communist Party holds its plenary session in Hanoi

  • The 6th plenary session of the 13th Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) began in Hanoi from October 3 to October 9. According to Vietnam's State media, the budget draft and socioeconomic development plans are some of the issues discussed during this session.
  • The VCP’s Central Committee will also draft plans for the period 2021-2030 and set out a vision for 2050 as Vietnam continues to accelerate toward industrialization and modernization, State media reported.
  • The Central Committee is regarded as the second most powerful governing body of the VCP, second only to the Party Congress. The Committee also serves as the VCP’s main stage. Its functions include electing members of the Politburo and the general secretary, among other positions. In addition, it maintains the political platforms of the VCP, the VCP’s charter, the resolutions of the Party congresses, and decisions regarding both foreign and internal affairs.

Vietnam requests Netflix remove K-drama Little Women over war 'distortion'

Channel News Asia:

“Vietnam has asked Netflix to stop showing the South Korean drama series Little Women in the Southeast Asian country, alleging the series distorted events of the Vietnam War, state media said Wednesday (Oct 5).

In episode eight of the 12-part drama, which is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, a war veteran from South Korea is seen bragging about the "kill-to-death ratio" between troops from his country and the Viet Cong.

More than 320,000 South Koreans were sent to Vietnam between 1964 and 1973 to fight alongside US soldiers.

They have long faced allegations that they committed mass killings of Vietnamese civilians.”

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

What Can Vietnam Learn from South Korea’s Style of ‘Mixed Governance’?

The Diplomat/ Trien Vinh Le/ October 7

“With its politically dominant position, the Communist Party of Vietnam can fully control the process of exercising a mixed governance model. Initially, the social responsibility of the market would be institutionalized with large enterprises taking a bigger role in caring for their employees. At the same time, there would be a need to build safety nets for employees, students, the elderly, disadvantaged groups, and ethnic groups in remote areas through large-scale social insurance programs. These programs should be transparent and accountable to prevent corruption and loss that may discredit the government.”

The Diplomat/ To Minh Son/ October 7

“Moreover, it should be emphasized that Vietnam and China see Laos with different levels of strategic priority. With its economic shrewdness, unmatched size, and adjoining territories, China can make deals with any regime that comes to power in Laos, though no doubt the current socialist government is preferred. In contrast, the continued rule of the Vietnam-friendly LPRP is absolutely crucial to Vietnam’s national security, and a transition of power could be politically catastrophic to Vietnam. This is because Laos shares a border of 2,161 kilometers with Vietnam – nearly double the length of the borders it shares with China or Cambodia  – and lies right next to Vietnam’s historical adversary, China. Vietnam knows this and will attempt to do as much as permissible to buttress the rule of the LPRP.”

Why a maritime focus is vital for Vietnam’s security

The Strategist/ Euan Graham, Bich T. Tran/ October 6

“In the 21st century, however, Vietnam has transformed into an export-oriented economy that depends upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and beyond, to deliver its prosperity. This has influenced its threat perceptions. The majority of Vietnam’s population and infrastructure is concentrated on the coast, making it vulnerable to attack from the sea. Vietnam has to defend and police the oil, gas and fish within its exclusive economic zone, as well as its territorial claims in the Spratly Islands. If, in future, China is able to exert uncontested control within the so-called nine-dash line, and acquires access to a naval base in Cambodia, Vietnam could find itself encircled and vulnerable to blockade. Once access to seaborne trade is denied, Vietnam would suffer immediately and grievously.”

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