Internet Users Prosecuted for Allegedly ‘Distorting Ho Duy Hai’s Conviction;’ Putin Accepts Nguyen Phu Trong's Invitation and Will Visit Vietnam

Internet Users Prosecuted for Allegedly ‘Distorting Ho Duy Hai’s Conviction;’ Putin Accepts Nguyen Phu Trong's Invitation and Will Visit Vietnam

Social Media Users Charged With ‘Abusing Democratic Freedoms’ for ‘Distorting’ Conviction of Death-Row Inmate Ho Duy Hai

On March 28, the Security Investigation Bureau of Binh Duong Provincial Police prosecuted two social media users, Nguyen Duc Du, 48, and Hoang Quoc Viet, 46,  for allegedly “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 of the Penal Code. The police detained Du while Viet was put under house arrest.

The security investigation bureau alleged that these two social media users had written and edited many articles related to the Ho Duy Hai murder and robbery case, which they then published on their personal Facebook accounts.

These articles were said to contain information that “distorts, slanders, defames, and affects the reputation and legitimate rights and interests” of several organizations and individuals at the Long An Provincial Judiciary and the Supreme People’s Court. The police agency did not publish their posting or specifically declare what piece of information was shared that was considered “distorted” and “slanderous.”

In 2008, the Long An Provincial People’s Court sentenced Ho Duy Hai, a local resident, to death on charges of murder and robbery. However, Hai repeatedly said he was innocent while the prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to convict him. Notably, the criminal investigation bureau admitted they purchased a knife and a cutting board and presented them as evidence in the prosecution.

Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong Invites Russian President for State Visit

According to Reuters, Communist Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong on March 26 invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Vietnam during a phone conversation. Hanoi has maintained special ties with Moscow, which were developed during the Soviet era, and Vietnam remains a significant purchaser of Russian arms.

State media in Vietnam reported that President Putin accepted the invitation and agreed that the two sides coordinate the visit at a suitable time. Although the Russian president previously accepted an invitation to visit Vietnam last October, it did not occur after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him.

During the call, Trong congratulated Putin on his reelection as Russian president and extended condolences to the victims of the recent attack near Moscow. They also discussed promoting bilateral cooperation in security, defense, trade, and tourism.

Protestant Missionary Y Krec Bya Receives 13-Year Sentence for ‘Sabotaging Unity Policy’

The Dak Lak Provincial People’s Court on March 28 sentenced the indigenous missionary Y Krec Bya to 13 years in prison and five years of probation on the charge of “sabotaging the unity policy” according to Article 116 of the Penal Code. Bya, 46, who lives in Buon Don District, Dak Lak Province, is a member of the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ, a Protestant sect deemed a “reactionary group” by the Vietnamese authorities,

The indictment accused Y Krec Bya and other exiled leaders of FULRO, an acronym for the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races, a wartime indigenous resistance front, of organizing online meetings and publishing information that aimed to “cause division between the people and the government” and “between people following different religions.”

According to attorney Ha Huy Son, Bya’s legal representative, his client disagreed with the accusations the Procuracy had proposed. Son said Bya only practiced religious activities and did not intend to oppose or overthrow the government. Around 15 members of the Protestant group came to the court to observe the missionary’s public trial, but the security forces blocked them from entering the courtroom and forced them to leave.

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Vietnam’s Social Listening Programme: Big Brother Looming Over Ho Chi Minh City?

Fulcrum/ Thanh Giang Nguyen/ March 28

“All in all, Vietnam’s application of Socialbeat has raised more questions than answers. The programme’s apparent lack of transparency and the concerns among the public about privacy already outweigh any supposed utility in assisting Ho Chi Minh City to enhance public services in accordance with “the wishes of the local people”. Publicising a piece of AI-enabled software as a tool to replace checks and balances in government, a principle still non-existent in Vietnam, can only add to the confusion and even raise suspicion over the real motives behind the plan.”

How Capitalism Beat Communism in Vietnam

Reason/ Rainer Zitelmann/ March 26

“Unsurprisingly, Vietnam has a corruption problem. When Transparency International assembled its 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Vietnam ranked a middling 87th out of 180 countries in the 2021 ranking. Its score wasn't as bad as it had been a couple of decades earlier, but it wasn't exactly good either. As one Hanoi businessman told me: "The official lists of party and state functionaries' salaries are published in the newspapers, and many only get $500 or $1,000 a month. Nevertheless, they often drive expensive Mercedes and lead lavish lifestyles. Of course, one wonders: Where does the money come from?"

Though Vietnam has created more space for the market and the government is no longer as omnipotent as it was, the party still retains a great deal of influence. That raises the question: To what extent is it really possible to effectively fight corruption in a one-party system without a free press?”

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