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ICC Note: Vietnam sentenced six Vietnamese activists to harsh jail sentences on April 5, accusing them of overthrowing the communist state. Among them, pastor Nguyen Trung Ton and Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai received 12 years in jail and three years of house arrest and 15 years in prison and five years of house arrest respectively for their peaceful promotion of democracy.

 04/06/2018 Vietnam (Radio Free Asia) – Judicial authorities in Hanoi handed down harsh jail sentences on Thursday to six Vietnamese activists found guilty of “subversion,” earning the condemnation of rights groups who had called for the charges to be dropped.

Prominent rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, his colleague Le Thu Ha, and citizen journalists Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Truong Minh Duc, and Nguyen Bac Truyen, were tried for conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the state under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

The statute carries maximum sentences of life imprisonment or capital punishment for those who are convicted.

The six were accused of affiliation with the Brotherhood for Democracy, a group founded by Dai in 2013 to defend human rights and promote democratic ideals in Vietnam. All have campaigned for victims of injustice, advocated for religious freedom, and supported political prisoners and their families.

In all, the activists were sentenced to 66 years in jail and 17 years under house arrest.

Dai was sentenced to 15 years in prison and five years of house arrest, while the others received prison terms ranging from seven to 12 years.

Duc and Ton each received sentences of 12 years in jail and three years of house arrest.

Truyen received an 11-year prison sentence and three years of house arrest. Ha, the only woman in the group, was sentenced to nine years in jail and two years of probation. And Troi received a seven-year sentence and one year of house arrest.

After the trial, Dai’s wife Vu Minh Hanh told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that she strongly condemned the sentence.

“They [prosecutors] could not present any specific evidence, only assumptions,” she said by phone.

“The lawyers and my husband had their own defense speeches and questions for the prosecutors, but they could not answer [the questions],” she said. “They could only assume and had no evidence. In the end, they handed down that sentence. This is an unjust and unfair sentence and goes against any justice.’

Nguyen Thi Lanh, wife of Nguyen Trung Ton, told RFA that she saw no justice from the government of Vietnam during the trial.

“They sentenced my husband to 12 years in prison and jailed others even though they are innocent,” she said. “They only fought for the benefit of the people and for the development of our country.”

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org