Vietnamese democracy activists Nguyen Van Trang and Le Van Thuong are wanted for overthrowing their country’s communist government, police told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Tuesday.
The two members of the banned Brotherhood for Democracy are being sought for “activities aiming to overthrow the people’s administration” under article 109 of the revised Vietnamese penal code, police in Thanh Hoa and Quang Ngai provinces told RFA by telephone.
“I was told by my family that representatives from Thanh Hoa police came to my house and read their decision to prosecute me and then on Dec. 10 they came again to read the wanted notice, accusing me of overthrowing the government,” Trang told RFA on Tuesday.
“I will have to hide and continue my fight until Vietnam has democracy,’ he said.
“I had gone into hiding before they issued their decision to prosecute me. I was told by family and friends that they have been searching for me from the north to the south,” added Trang, who is in his late 20s.
Thuong, 30, was the subject of a wanted notice issued by Quang Ngai police on Nov. 26, more than two weeks after he had fled the area, the police said. Police asked anybody who sees Thuong to turn him in.
Article 109 has been widely condemned by rights groups and legal experts for allowing a person to be imprisoned up to five years for “preparing to criticize the state or preparing to join an independent political group disapproved by the government,” Human Rights Watch said in an analysis in 2017, after the penal code revisions were unveiled.
“A number of vaguely-worded articles related to national security crimes are often used to prosecute people for exercising basic rights, and now they can be (mis)used in even more circumstances,” said HRW of the amended code, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
Vietnam’s one-party communist government–which controls all media, censors the internet, and restricts basic freedoms of expression–is currently detaining more than 200 political prisoners, Nguyen Kim Binh of Vietnam Human Rights Network said in a speech Sunday in California.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Paul Eckert.