Pham Doan Trang
Detained Since: October 6, 2020.
Charges: Spreading anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code and Article 117 of Vietnam’s revised Penal Code of 2015.
Sentence: Nine years in prison.
Biography: Pham Doan Trang, a Vietnamese journalist and prominent dissident, was sentenced to 9 years in prison on December 14, 2021 for “spreading anti-state propaganda.” Trang is an advocate for democracy and human rights and an outspoken critic of the Vietnamese government. She co-founded several media outlets, including Luat Khoa Magazine, environmental rights organization Green Trees, and Liberal Publishing House, which prints banned books written by Vietnamese leaders. She is the author of many books, including “A Handbook of Non-violent Resistance Techniques”, “Politics for the Common People” (2017), “An Overview of Marine Life Disaster in Vietnam" (2016), “Politics of a Police State”, “A Handbook of How to Support Prisoners of Conscience” (2019). Trang’s imprisonment is not the first time she has been targeted: Trang was beaten so badly by police in 2015 that she needed crutches to walk, and in 2018 she was hospitalized after being subjected to torture in police custody. Trang was also denied access to her family and lawyers for over a year while awaiting trial, a form of punishment prohibited under international law. Before her arrest, Trang gave her American friend a letter to publicize should she be detained. “I don’t want freedom for myself; that’s too easy,” Trang wrote. “I want something greater: freedom for Vietnam.”
Trang’s health has deteriorated while in detention. She reportedly lost 22 pounds, suffers from ovarian cysts and menorrhagia, and has not received medical checkups or treatment while imprisoned.
Advocacy Partner: Reporters Without Borders
Advocate: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)
- On August 25, 2022, Pham Doan Trang went before the Hanoi High People’s Court to appeal her nine-year sentence, while suffering from increasing health problems (Radio Free Asia, Aug. 24, 2022). After refusing to plead guilty to charges of "anti-state propoganda", the court upheld her conviction (RSF, Aug. 25, 2022).
- Following the denial of her appeal, the United States Department of State released a statement condemning her continued imprisonment (U.S. Dept. of State, Aug, 25, 2022)
- Her case was highlighted in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post titled "In Vietnam, Facebook posts are risky. Just ask these bloggers." published on November 17, 2022. The article also highlighted the case of Nguyen Van Hoa (Washington Post, Nov. 17, 2022).
- Pham Doan Trang was included as one of 16 cases in the U.S. Department of State's #WithoutJustCause Political Prisoners Campaign. This campaign, launched on January 11, 2023, is an advocacy and diplomatic engagement initiative with the goal of securing the release of the included political prisoners. Other prisoners included in the campaign at the time of its launch are Ekpar Asat and Buzurgmehr Yorov (January 11, 2023, U.S. Department of State).