Apr 23, 2020

NEW YORK – Human rights activist Tran Duc Thach has been arrested at his home in Vietnam on a trumped-up political charge of “activities against the people’s government,” which can carry a sentence of life imprisonment. This charge has been commonly used by the Vietnamese government to imprison human rights activists, who were then typically sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison.

“Vietnam is using the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover to round up human rights activists. It’s outrageous. Last week, several other activists were arrested for posting coronavirus-related information on Facebook.” said Joy Park, legal counsel for Asia. “Tran Duc Thach has already suffered years in arbitrary imprisonment. The Vietnamese government must stop harassing him and release him immediately.”

Tran Duc Thach, born in 1952, is a writer, award-winning activist, and former political prisoner. He was arrested in 2008 and served a three-year prison sentence on charges of “conducting propaganda against the state.” Thach was released from prison on August 30, 2011 and put under an additional three years of house arrest.

Thach is a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy (BFD) in Vietnam. BFD was founded on April 24, 2013 to unite activists in Vietnam and work towards advancing human rights. Since its founding, BFD members have been heavily persecuted by the Vietnamese government. Thach’s arrest was likely prompted by the anniversary of BFD’s founding, as well as his Facebook posts about BFD leading up to the celebration. 

According to Thach’s wife, the Nghe An province police came to their house with an arrest warrant at around 9:00 a.m. on April 23. After searching their house, the police detained Thach at the Nghe An police station. Prior to his arrest, he was questioned by security forces about BFD. A photo of him later published on state media shows he sustained facial injuries, indicating that he was most likely beaten by the police while in detention.


For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Natalia Ciolko at [email protected]. The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.