PEN is deeply concerned that Pham Doan Trang, a renowned writer, publisher, and activist, has been sentenced to nine years in prison in Vietnam.
Responding to the sentencing, Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:
‘This is a reprehensible outcome in a reprehensible case. An act of retaliation aimed at silencing Pham Doan Trang, and at punishing her for the work she has been doing in the name of human rights and freedom of expression, and for speaking uncomfortable truths. She should be immediately and unconditionally freed and all charges against her should be dropped.’
The author of numerous books including Chính Trị Bình Dân (Politics for the Masses) and Cẩm nang nuôi tù (A Handbook for Families of Prisoners), Pham Doan Trang is also the co-founder of an award-winning publishing house, a founding member of independent online magazine Luât Khoa, and is on the editorial board of The Vietnamese.
In October 2020, Pham Doan Trang was arrested on anti-state charges following a raid on her home in Ho Chi Minh City. She was held incommunicado for over a year before finally being allowed to meet with a lawyer. During this time, she was denied access to adequate medical care, raising serious health concerns in relation to pre-existing conditions such as chronic pain, due to her legs being broken by the police in 2015, and low blood pressure.
On 14 December 2021, the People’s Court of Hanoi sentenced Trang to nine years in prison for ‘conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’ under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code.
PEN has repeatedly called for the release of Pham Doan Trang, alongside the United Nations and other international organisations. She is also among the writers featured in our ongoing PENWrites campaign, through which our members and supporters are encouraged to send messages of solidarity.
Trang’s sentencing is the latest example of the Vietnamese authorities escalating crackdown on critical expression in the country. Numerous writers and bloggers have been detained for their writing, including Pham Chi Thanh (also known as Phạm Thành), who in July 2021 was sentenced to five years and six months imprisonment in retaliation for his writing, which criticised Nguyen Phu Trong, the General Secretary of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party.
PEN reiterates its calls for the immediate release of Pham Doan Trang, and of all authors, journalists and human rights defenders unjustly detained in Vietnam.