Daring to Stand Up For Freedom
(Radio Free Asia) - Authorities in central Vietnam’s Nghe An province have taken activist Nguyen Viet Dung into custody for allegedly disseminating anti-state propaganda, according to his father, who said the reason for his son’s arrest was unclear.
Dung, 31, was arrested around noon on Wednesday in Nghe An’s Quynh Luu district, near Song Ngoc parish, under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, his father, Nguyen Viet Hung, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service after the detention.
“My friends told me the news,” he said, noting that police had “only issued an announcement [acknowledging the arrest] due to strong public pressure.”
Hung said he opposed his son’s arrest because “the reason was not made clear enough.”
Disseminating anti-state propaganda in Vietnam is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Dung is widely known in Vietnam’s online community as Dung Phi Ho, and gained a following after posting photos of himself wearing the uniform of the former Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), which was defeated by the Communist Viet Cong at the end of the Vietnam War, and posing in front of its flag.
In April 2015, the activist established the Republican Party, which is not recognized by the state in one-party Vietnam, and the Loyalist Association of the ARVN.
He has also regularly participated in protests against China’s influence over Vietnam and its territorial claims in the South China Sea, and expressed views critical of the Vietnamese government.
Dung was arrested in April 2015 under Article 245 for “disturbing public order” after taking part in a rally calling for the protection of trees in the capital Hanoi and sentenced that December to a 15-month prison term.
His sentence was later commuted by an appeals court to 12 months and he was released in April 2016. Prison terms in Vietnam regularly include time served in pre-trial detention.
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