Vuong Van Tha
Current Status: Sentenced
Other Names: Vương Văn Thả
Date of Birth: 1969
Religion: Buddhist (Hoa Hao)
Latest Prison: Bang Lang prison, Long Xuyen district, An Giang province
Areas of Activism:
- Religious freedom
- Art. 258
- Art. 88
Vuong Van Tha is a Hoa Hao Buddhist.
Vuong Van Tha was arrested on May 18, 2017, at his home. Tha previously served three years in prison for "abusing democratic freedoms," under Article 258 of the 1999 Criminal Code. He had resumed his activism shortly before his May 2017 re-arrest. His house was put under siege by authorities at the time of the arrest, blasted with water cannons that injured many inside the house. Tha's son and two nephews were also arrested. The four were reportedly arrested for making and flying the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam.
Vuong Van Tha was sentenced to 12 years in prison on January 23, 2018 under Article 88 in An Giang province. Neither his lawyer or his family were permitted to attend the trial.
Vietnam jails four for flying flag of 'Saigon regime,' Reuters, January 24, 2018
Vietnam Sentences Outspoken Buddhist Hermit to 12 Years in Jail, Radio Free Asia, January 23, 2018
It was brought to our attention that Vuong Van Tha advocated for the use of violence to oppose the Communist Party of Vietnam. And it was suggested to us that we take Tha and his followers' cases out of the database as they do not comply with international human rights standards.
While we do share the concern regarding the advocacy for violence, we have decided to keep Vuong Van Tha and followers’ cases in our database for the following reasons:
- Vuong Van Tha and his followers were sentenced under Article 88 (propaganda against the socialist state), which targets speech that should be protected. They were not tried under Article 84 (terrorist acts against the people's government), as the 15 people who were tried on December 26-29 (whom we excluded from the database). That group, according to the indictment, actually planned specific acts of violence (for example, plotting to bomb Tan Son Nhat airport), instead of just talking about the use violence against the Communist Party. Vuong Van Tha and his followers were specifically tried for having made and waved South Vietnam flags, which would be a peaceful form of activism. Tha and his followers were not tried for inciting violence.
- Vuong Van Tha called for the use of violence to suppress the CPV on social media but there is no evidence that people followed him, that his speech had any influence among the public, or that any imminent violence was caused by his speech. This is a fine line to walk, but in the absence of influence and any imminent result of his speech, Tha’s messages do not appear to be speech that international law would prohibit, and thus we believe that he and his followers should be included in our database.
Profile last updated: 2018-03-01 02:39:48