Back to top

Sentencing of land rights defender Can Thi Theu

Status: 
Imprisoned
About the situation

On 30 November 2016 a court in Hanoi city dimissed an appeal brought by land rights defender Ms Can Thi Theu against a sentence of 20 months imprisonment which was handed down to her on 20 September 2016 by The People's Court of Dong Da district on charges of “causing public disorder” under Article 245 of the Penal Code. Upwards of 50 of her supporters who attempted to attend the trial were rounded up and removed from the scene by police.

About Can Thi Theu

Can Thi TheuCan Thi Theu is a land rights defender who has been campaigning against and documenting land seizures in Hanoi and surrounding provinces since her family farm was confiscated in 2007. She has been beaten and imprisoned as a result of her activities calling for adequate compensation for the confiscation of lands in Vietnam. Can Thi Theu has been helping others defend their land and highlighting government expropriation of land at unfair prices since 2007. All land in Vietnam is technically owned by the state and citizens only have the right to use it. This has led to thousands of people having land they have farmed for years being taken from them and being compensated with paltry sums.

20 September 2016
Land rights defender Can Thi Theu sentenced

On 20 September 2016, land rights defender Ms Can Thi Theu was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment by The People's Court of Dong Da district, in Hanoi, on charges of “causing public disorder” under Article 245 of the Penal Code. Upwards of 50 of her supporters who attempted to attend the trial were rounded up and removed from the scene by police.

In the early hours of 10 June 2016, several dozen police officers arrived at the family home of Can Thi Theu in Hoa Binh province in the north of the country. They searched her house, confiscated her mobile phone and detained her under Article 245 of Vietnam's Penal Code on a charge of “causing public disorder”, alleging she had been involved in disturbances in the Dong Da district of Hanoi. Can Thi Thue's sons, Messrs Trinh Ba Tu and Trinh Ba Phuong, were briefly detained on 13 June 2016 for calling for their mother's release. Following her arrest, Can Thi Theu engaged on a 13 day hunger strike to protest against her treatment, which led to a serious deterioration in her health.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the sentencing of Can Thi Theu, as it is solely related to her peaceful and legitimate work for the promotion and protection of land rights in Vietnam.

24 June 2016
Serious deterioration of human rights defender Can Thi Theu’s health after 13 days of hunger strike

Land rights defender Mrs Can Thi Theu is in a critical health condition in the Hanoi-based Detention Facility No. 1 following 13 days of hunger strike which began on 10 June 2016.  She told her lawyer that there is blood in her urine and vomit in recent days and agreed with his request to end her hunger strike but serious concerns remain about her health. Front Line Defenders issued an Urgent Appeal regarding her arrest on 16 June 2016.

Can Thi Theu is a land rights defender who has been campaigning against and documenting land seizures in Hanoi and surrounding provinces since her family farm was confiscated in 2007. She has been beaten and imprisoned as a result of her activities calling for adequate compensation for the confiscation of lands in Vietnam. Can Thi Theu has been helping others defend their land and highlighting government expropriation of land at unfair prices since 2007. All land in Vietnam is technically owned by the state and citizens only have the right to use it. This has led to thousands of people having land they have farmed for years being taken from them and being compensated with very small sums.

On 22 June 2016, Can Thi Theu’s lawyer Ha Huy Son had his first meeting with the human rights defender in the detention facility.  He informed Theu’s family that she was brought to a room on a wheel, with the support of two people. The human rights defender also told Son that she saw blood in her urine and in her vomit in recent days. Can Thi Theu’s lawyer advised her to stop the hunger strike to protect herself and she agreed.

Can Thi Theu started her hunger strike on the first day of her arrest. On 10 June 2016 the human rights defender was arrested in Hoa Binh province and charged with 'causing public disorder' under Article 245 of the Penal Code. She faces imprisonment of up to seven years in jail if she is found guilty. She is being detained in Hoa Lo detention centre in Hanoi.  

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about human rights defender Can Thi Theu’s health. It is further concerned by the accusation of Can Thi Theu, which it believes to be directly linked to her peaceful and legitimate work calling for adequate compensation for the confiscation of lands in Vietnam.

16 June 2016
Arrest of land rights defender Can Thi Theu

On 10 June 2016 land rights defender Ms Can Thi Theu was arrested in Hoa Binh province and charged with 'causing public disorder'. She is being detained in Hoa Lo detention centre in Hanoi.

Download Urgent Appeal

Can Thi Theu is a land rights defender who has been campaigning against and documenting land seizures in Hanoi and surrounding provinces since her family farm was confiscated in 2007. She has been beaten and imprisoned as a result of her activities calling for adequate compensation for the confiscation of lands in Vietnam. Can Thi Theu has been helping others defend their land and highlighting government expropriation of land at unfair prices since 2007. All land in Vietnam is technically owned by the state and citizens only have the right to use it. This has led to thousands of people having land they have farmed for years being taken from them and being compensated with paltry sums.

In the early hours of 10 June 2016, several dozen police officers arrived at the family home of Can Thi Theu in Hoa Binh province in the north of the country. They searched her house, confiscated her mobile phone and detained her under Article 245 of Vietnam's Penal Code on a charge of “causing public disorder”, alleging she had been involved in disturbances of the Dong Da district of Hanoi. Can Thi Thue's sons, Messrs Trinh Ba Tu and Trinh Ba Phuong, were briefly detained on 13 June 2016 for calling for their mother's release.

Police can hold Can Thi Theu in custody for up to four months while they investigate her case and if found guilty, she could face imprisonment of up to seven years. The charges she faces reportedly relate to her role in organising a peaceful demonstration on 8 April 2016 commemorating the tenth anniversary of the founding of a pro-democracy group and demanding the release of detained human rights lawyer Mr Nguyen Van Dai. He has been held on a charge of 'conducting propaganda against the state' and has been held incommunicado since his arrest.

In January 2016 the human rights defender was briefly detained in Hanoi for protesting against attempts by the local government to seize family farms. She was released from prison in July 2015 following her arrest in April 2014. She and her husband, Mr Trinh Ba Tu, were imprisoned for 15 months. The human rights defender was arrested while using a camera to document a land grab in Ha Dong district in Hanoi and filmed police attacking protesters with sticks and batons. During the course of her arrest, she was beaten by police and charged with “resisting on-duty state officials”. On her release from prison in July 2015, Can Thi Theu continued to engage in peaceful demonstrations calling for the return of land which had been confiscated by the local authorities.

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the arrest of Can Thi Theu, which it believes to be directly linked to her peaceful and legitimate work calling for adequate compensation for the confiscation of lands in Vietnam.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Vietnam to:
 

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Can Thi Theu and Nguyen Van Dai and drop all charges against them as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Can Thi Theu as well as of her family;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Vietnam are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without undue restrictions, fear of harassment, threats or retaliation, and publicly recognise their important role in a just civil society.