Luat Khoa and The Vietnamese co-founder Pham Doan Trang's recent trial saw her charged with "anti-state propaganda" and is now facing 9 years in prison.  The internationally acclaimed author and journalist is a big sore to the Vietnamese authorities whose press freedom and human rights track record is very dismal, ranking 175th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' global press freedom rankings.


Note:  Original texts in German.

Pham Doan Trang has been messing with the autocratic unity party in Vietnam for 20 years - and is now paying for it with nine years in prison.

Nothing had been heard or read from Pham Doan Trang, 43, for a year. The Vietnamese journalist and activist was arrested and detained at her home in Hoh Chi Minh City in October 2020, just hours after the annual US-Vietnam human rights dialogue ended. She was taken to Hanoi and placed in solitary confinement. A year later she was allowed to speak to her lawyer. A trial followed, about which little has leaked out in recent weeks, except for the charge: "propaganda against the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam" under Article 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code. She has now been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Until her arrest, Pham Doan Trang wrote mostly about politics and social justice issues. In 2000 she started working for the early internet magazine VnExpres . She switched to web TV stations and wrote books, including ones about discrimination against homosexuals in Vietnam. She was the founder of the independent magazine Luat Khoa and an editor at The Vietnamese Magazine.

Freedom of the press is particularly bad in Vietnam

Her colleagues there set up a portrait page for Pham Doan Trang shortly after her arrest. There she tells about her youth. "I borrowed my friends' songbooks to copy the Beatles , in bad English and with even worse grammar... But that's how I grew up - with the Beatles." She studied international economics and discovered the internet. "We didn't have many books back then, and our reality didn't correspond to the books anyway," she says of the online development of her political consciousness. "For the more diligent among us, foreign economic articles - either in other languages ​​or translated into Vietnamese - were an excellent source of information."

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, Vietnam, with at least 23 media workers in prison, is one of the countries in which the most reporters are imprisoned. Vietnam ranks 175th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' global press freedom rankings. Pham Doan Trang has been repeatedly beaten, kidnapped, arrested and placed under house arrest in recent years. She was injured so badly that she is limping and using crutches after an operation.