Human Rights Watch calls on the Vietnamese government to drop politically motivated charges against Pham Doan Trang.

Title: Vietnam: Free Prominent Blogger
Publish Date: December 13, 2021
Publisher: Human Rights Watch


The Vietnamese authorities should drop all criminal charges against the prominent human rights activist and blogger Pham Doan Trang and immediately release her, Human Rights Watch said today. On December 14, 2021, a court in Hanoi is scheduled to put her on trial for “conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code. She could receive up to 12 years in prison.

Police arrested Pham Doan Trang, 43, on October 6, 2020 in Ho Chi Minh City, just a few hours after the annual human rights dialogue between the United States and Vietnam, and transported her to Hanoi. After charging her, they held her for more than a year in pretrial detention without access to a lawyer. The case against her and her mistreatment violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Vietnam ratified in 1982.

Pham Doan Trang has long been involved in peaceful protests against government policies. She has joined demonstrations outside police stations and at airports when fellow activists have been detained, participated in anti-China protests, and helped lead pro-environmental marches. She exhibited solidarity for fellow activists by trying to attend government show trials, and, at great personal risk, she periodically visited families of imprisoned dissidents to provide them with support and assistance.

Aided by other bloggers, she wrote and published on her blog a brief history of the Vietnamese “blogosphere.” She has written, in real time, on the arbitrary and illegal arrests of activists, protesters, and bloggers, and the forced closure of an online newspaper. She frequently urges people to use social media in a responsible way that promotes a non-violent, thriving civil society movement.

Pham Doan Trang has also consistently advocated for an impartial, rights-respecting justice system. She has been an editor of the online Law Magazine, which has published many articles and translations concerning lawyers and human rights, the struggle against forced confessions, state use of corporal punishment, domestic violence, legal reforms in China, high-profile death sentence cases in Vietnam, protections against self-incrimination, and many other topics.

Update: On December 14, 2021, a Hanoi court sentenced Pham Doan Trang to nine years in prison. Before her trial, Pham Doan Trang prepared a statement for publication. The English version is available here. The original Vietnamese is available here.