Vietnam Abstains from UN General Assembly Demanding the Withdrawal of Russian Troops from Ukraine

Vietnam Abstains from UN General Assembly Demanding the Withdrawal of Russian Troops from Ukraine

Vietnamese Activist Le Minh The Arrested on “Abusing Democratic Freedoms” Charges

  • Vietnam’s State-owned media on Feb. 22 reported that the Security Investigation Agency of Binh Thuy District, Can Tho City, has arrested Le Minh The, a local Facebook user, and charged him with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the State and individuals’ legitimate rights and interests” under Article 331 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.
  • It was reported that The “had regularly published and shared articles and images containing illegal content on his personal Facebook page.” The police also conducted a search of The’s residence under the permission of the Can Tho City Procuracy Office. The indictment accused him of “exchanging information on social forums with reactionary meanings at home and abroad to call for protests, [and] demand regime change, political pluralism, and separation of powers,” among other things.
  • The, 59, previously received a two-year imprisonment in March 2019 on the same charges. He was released in July 2020. According to documentation from The 88 Project, the Can Tho social media user usually live-streamed on his personal Facebook account, discussing political and social issues in Vietnam, such as the aggression of China in the South China Sea, environmental pollution, as well as voicing his disagreement with the government’s policies.
  • Le Thi Binh, a younger sister of The, also served prison terms due to her participation in peaceful anti-China demonstrations in Vietnam and her publication of materials criticizing the government on social media. Binh completed her sentence in November 2022. In an interview with RFA, she revealed the substandard living conditions in An Phuoc Prison, where she was held, claiming that female prisoners were subjected to hard labor, physical assaults, malnourished meals, and poor medical care.
  • Binh also said the police confiscated VND 211 million ($8,870) and $1,700 in cash after being arrested three years ago. According to Binh, on the day she was arrested, Dec. 22, 2020, the police took the money but did not record the confiscation. She added that she did not sue the police because she had no evidence proving that they took her money.

Two Vietnamese Lawyers and a State Journalist were Arrested on Allegations of “Abusing Democratic Freedoms”

  • Vietnamese State-owned media reported that police in Ho Chi Minh City had arrested two lawyers and a State journalist to investigate their alleged activities of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the State and individuals’ legitimate rights and interests” under Article 331 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. On Feb. 24, Ho Chi Minh City police arrested Dang Anh Quan, a lawyer, and Dang Thi Han Ni, a journalist. Tran Van Sy, another lawyer, was arrested a day later, on Feb. 25.
  • The arrested people are accused of being involved in the alleged defamation case filed against Nguyen Phuong Hang, a businesswoman, and an online influencer. Hang was arrested on March 22 last year under the exact charges. She was accused of hosting live streams that allegedly defamed and accused many people of suspected wrongdoings, including journalist Han Ni and lawyer Tran Van Sy. Han Ni and Sy previously filed a defamation lawsuit against Hang. Meanwhile, as a guest, Quan joined Hang in several of her live streams.
  • The Vietnamese government has often deployed Article 331 of the Penal Code, which is seen as a catch-all criminal charge, to arrest political dissidents and crack down on freedom of speech and the press in Vietnam. Notable figures who have been imprisoned under Article 331 include six practitioners at Tinh That Bong Lai, an independent Buddhist temple, and Nguyen Hoai Nam, a State journalist who had a focus on investigations of corruption cases.

Vietnamese Activist Nguyen Lan Thang Allowed to See His Lawyer

  • Vietnamese activist Nguyen Lan Thang was allowed to see his lawyers on Feb. 16 in custody after the Hanoi Security Investigation Agency completed its investigation into his case on Jan. 17, according to a Facebook update from Pham Le Quyen, one of Thang’s lawyers.
  • In her posting, Quyen wrote that Thang’s health remained stable and that his conditions in prison were relatively bearable. He also gained weight in detention, from 143 pounds to about 156 pounds. Thang was only concerned about the possibility of him developing high blood pressure from consuming too much salt from prison meals.
  • Nguyen Lan Thang, 47, is a prominent Vietnamese activist and blogger. He was arrested on July 5, 2022, in Hanoi on the allegations of “distributing anti-State propaganda” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. According to the investigation results, Thang is accused of publishing 12 videos on Facebook and YouTube and possessing two books that contained “anti-State” content.

Freedom of Religion in Vietnam: What Happened Last Week?

Vietnamese authorities bar U.S. delegation from meeting the adherents of the Central Highlands Evangelical Church

  • RFA reported that Vietnamese authorities in Buon Don and Cu Mgar Communes, Dak Lak Province, on Feb. 22 prevented the delegation of the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City from visiting missionaries and adherents of the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ. The government does not recognize this religious sect.
  • Y Kreec Bya and Y Cung Nie, two missionaries of the Protestant sect, were expected to meet with two representatives from the U.S. Consulate General at their houses on the same day to discuss the Vietnamese government’s repression of their religious activities. Other Protestant missionaries were also invited to the discussion.
  • But according to Y Kreec Bya, whose house is in Buon Don Commune, a heavy presence of plainclothes police guarded and prevented the consulate officials from going inside. “[The police] drove the American delegation off [without letting us] shake hands or talk,” said Y Kreec. He added that the police began to guard his house the previous day, warning that they would apply “heavier measures” if his sect refused to cease its operations.
  • Plainclothes police also barred the delegation from visiting Protestant missionary Y Cung Nie at his house in Cu Mgar Commune on the same day. Two other Protestant missionaries, Y Nguyet Buon Krong, and Y Coi Buon Krong, were also under de facto house arrest so they could not attend the meeting.
  • Y Nguyet Buon Krong told RFA reporters in an interview that the Vietnamese authorities ramped up their repression of the sect after Vietnam was listed in the U.S. State Department’s Special Watch List to be monitored for its violations of religious freedom. “When we were about to conduct our religious ceremony each Sunday, [the police] came to the gate of my house and sent all the adherents home,” Y Nguyet said.

Family of Vietnamese Conscript who died while on Duty Raises Suspicions about His Death

  • Vietnam’s State media on Feb. 21 reported that a Vietnamese conscript was found dead only ten days after his enlistment. The deceased soldier's body, which was only identified by the initials, L.T.M, was found on Feb. 15 on a hill about 1.2 miles from the 3rd Mobile Police Battalion, Yen Bai Province, where he was based. According to preliminary investigations, there were no signs of alcohol and narcotics in his blood, and the victim’s intestines did not contain poison. M.’s family said he had no mental problems before his conscription.
  • But according to Le Viet Thang, director of the Yen Bai Police, the young soldier was suspected of having committed suicide. The investigation results suggested that on the night of Feb. 15, M. escaped from the barracks, climbed onto the antenna pole about 60 feet high, and then immediately jumped to his death. Thang added that there is no indication that M. was beaten, assaulted, or murdered.
  • The police director added that the deceased man had a history of mental issues, including psychosis and paranoia, dating back seven years ago. These conditions have become worse in recent times. Thang said it was confirmed through a diary that is said to belong to M. The diary allegedly contained suicide notes written by him. However, the Yen Bai authorities did not publicize the content of the soldier’s diary.
  • The suspected death of the young conscript was met with skepticism from his family. In an interview with RFA, Luu Ngoc Anh, the brother-in-law of M., believed that his death was not a suicide. Anh said that his brother-in-law was a joyful and healthy man before conscription. “He also loved sports,” Anh added.
  • Mysterious deaths of Vietnamese conscripts while on duty have been recorded nationwide. Last December, a young soldier named Hoang Ba Manh was found dead while serving his military duty in Hai Duong Province. He was suspected of having been beaten to death by his comrades. Last June, a Hmong soldier named Ly Van Phuong was also found dead at his barracks in Ba Vi, Hanoi. Phuong was declared to have committed suicide while on duty.

Vietnam Calls for the Peaceful Resolution of the Ukraine crisis, Despite Failure to Condemn Moscow

  • Vietnam again abstained from a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on Feb. 23, a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, demanding Moscow immediately and completely withdraw its troops from Ukraine. The resolution also underscores the need to reach “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace” and reaffirms the commitment to “the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
  • Hanoi’s abstention this time contradicted the appeal made by Vietnamese Permanent Representative Dang Hoang Giang at the UN General Assembly’s emergency special session last Wednesday. In his remarks, Giang voiced concerns about the situation in Ukraine over the past year and underlined the need for all countries to abide by international law and the UN Charter, according to State media.
  • Giang added that Vietnam expressed its support for the international community to “increase safeguarding security and safety for people, ensure the needs of civilians in conflict-hit regions, and protect and maintain civilian facilities, especially the infrastructure essential for people’s life.”
  • Vietnam announced on May 12, 2022, that it would send US$500,000 in aid to support the war relief efforts in Ukraine. According to the government statement, it would send $100,000 to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), $100,000 to the World Health Organization (WHO), $100,000 to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and $200,000 USD to the Ukrainian Red Cross through the Vietnam Red Cross.
  • Meanwhile, Vietnam’s State-run media has continued to adopt a pro-Kremlin view of the war while only calling the invasion an “armed conflict” and “special military operations.”

Vietnam Communist Party to Nominate New President Next Week


“Among the favorites to take over the presidency is two-term Politburo member Vo Van Thuong. At 52, he is the youngest permanent member of the Central Committee’s Secretariat, and holds the No. 5 position in the state hierarchy. Gaining the presidency would be a potential springboard for Thuong to ultimately take the top job. Analysts say he’s the highest-ranked member supported by [Nguyen Phu] Trong to potentially succeed him.

Thuong caused ripples in Vietnam in December when he said there needed to be pressure within the Communist Party and Vietnamese society to force those guilty of corruption to resign. His comment was reported in state-run media a day before the two deputy prime ministers were removed from the Central Committee.”

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

The Rocky Road to Press Freedom in South East Asia

Human Rights Watch/ Andreas Harsono/ Feb. 22

“In Vietnam, the Communist Party maintains a monopoly on political power and allows no challenge to its leadership. Basic rights, including freedom of speech, opinion, press, association, and religion, are restricted. Rights activists and bloggers face harassment, intimidation, physical assault, and imprisonment. The Vietnam state controls all media outlets. The Communist Party demands that they serve as “the voice of party organisations, state organs and social organisations”. The party’s central propaganda department meets weekly in Hanoi to ensure that nothing objectionable is published in media outlets. Party-controlled courts have convicted and sentenced many independent journalists to prison, including Pham Doan Trang, Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and others.”

Anti-Graft Crackdown Pushes Vietnam’s Fearful Bureaucrats to 'Do Nothing’

Bloomberg/ Philip Heijmans, Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen/ Feb. 22

“Civil servants are wary of signing off on investment projects for fear they could be implicated next in a wide-ranging anti-graft campaign that has taken down three of the country’s top-ranking officials already this year, according to multiple bureaucrats who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. Once-routine approvals for real estate developments or infrastructure spending are increasingly getting held up, they said.”

Land Before Water: Why Vietnam’s Grand Strategy is Fundamentally Continental

The Diplomat/ Khang Vu/ Feb. 22

“Importantly, it is not about the means of military transport but the geographical location of the military objectives that matter in deciding whether Hanoi prioritized the land or the sea. During the Vietnam War, in addition to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Hanoi transported supplies to the South via the sea. However, the number of supplies transported via the sea route was smaller than the land route. And from a broader perspective, Vietnam mostly fought against a land power and rarely a naval power. China, Mongolia, Champa, and South Vietnam were all land powers. For that reason, it seldom had to face the problem of a stretched logistics and an outdated navy often seen in blue-water warfare.”

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