11 writers from Vietnam are placed in the Writers at Risk Database. One of them is Luật Khoa's co-founder and The Vietnamese co-editor Pham Doan Trang. Apart from her involvement with the online magazines, promoting human rights and the rule of law, she is also known as an author and independent publisher of several books on human rights and democracy.
- Title: Freedom to Write Index 2020
- Publish Date: June 2020
- Publisher: PEN America
In Vietnam, the number of detained writers jumped from 8 in 2019 to 11 in 2020. During 2020, Vietnamese authorities ramped up their targeting of individuals associated with professional literary and writing organizations. This included multiple arrests of writers associated with the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), a civil society organization that advocates for press freedom consisting of writers, bloggers, and journalists. The IJAVN’s founding member and chairman Pham Chi Dung was detained in November 2019 and spent the entirety of 2020 behind bars,150 while several other core members of the IJAVN were detained or imprisoned during 2020, including three leading members of the association—Le Huu Minh Tuan, Pham Chi Thanh, and Nguyen Tuong Thuy—who were arrested and detained in May 2020. Pham Chi Thanh remains in pretrial detention as of this writing, while the other three have received prison sentences of over a decade each.151
In October 2020, authorities detained and arrested internationally recognized author and blogger Pham Doan Trang, hours after the conclusion of the 2020 U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue.152 A prolific author and leading member of independent Vietnamese-language publications, Trang is also the cofounder of the Liberal Publishing House, Vietnam’s only independent publishing house, from which she was forced to disassociate herself in July, after the Ministry of Public Security labeled her works “anti-state propaganda.”153 As a prominent figure who has written extensively on voting rights, her arrest appears to be part of a broader crackdown on free expression ahead of the 13th National Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP).154
"No one wants to sit in prison. But if prison is inevitable for freedom fighters, if prison can serve a pre-determined purpose, then we should happily accept it."
Pham Doan Trang, “Just In Case I Am Imprisoned”
All five of these Vietnamese writers and public intellectuals were charged under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, which criminalizes “making, storing, disseminating documents and materials for an anti-State purpose.”