Trần Vũ Anh Bình (aka Hoang Nhat Thong) is a Vietnamese musician who was sentenced to six years in prison and two years of house arrest on October 30, 2012 for “anti-state propaganda.” This charge refers to music which he produced with Vo Minh Tri (aka Viet Khang) which criticized Vietnam’s violent response to peaceful anti-China protests. Multiple songs created by the pair were shared online in videos accompanied by images of police brutality toward peaceful protestors. An excerpt from their song “Where is My Country?” is below:
“Where is your nationalism?
Why consciously take orders from China?
You will leave a mark to last a thousand years,
Your hands will be stained with the blood of our people.”
Bình is also well known as a founder of the Patriotic Youth movement, founded in April 2011, which advocates for democracy, religious freedom, and greater Vietnamese sovereignty against China. He ran the blog Love Mother Vietnam (Thuong Me Viet Nam) where he posted songs and articles advocating peaceful protest. Bình is a member of Vietnam’s Catholic minority.
Following his arrest on September 19, 2011 Trần Vũ Anh Bình was visited multiple times by his brothers, who were forbidden from seeing him but were reportedly allowed to leave gifts. Bình’s family were told by police that communicating with media overseas would cause harsher treatment for the detained artist. Regardless, his wife and mother have led supporters in calling for his release.
Following 13 months of pre-trial detention, though Vietnamese law limits this to 4 months, Bình was sentenced to six years in prison and two years of house arrest on October 30, 2012.
In prison, Bình was moved to solitary confinement after protesting the installation of a camera in his cell, but was returned to the general population after protest. With four other prisoners, Bình participated in a 13-day hunger strike against abuses by prison staff in March 2016. The abuses which the prisoners protested included one inmate whose phone calls were cut short whenever human rights were mentioned, two being disciplined for sharing food, and all of the prisoners being forbidden from sending emails. That hunger strike earned international coverage, and ended in success when Bình and the other four prisoners were granted their rights and a prison official acknowledged that staff had violated the rules.
Trần Vũ Anh Bình is currently imprisoned in Xuyen Moc Prison, in the Cam My Rural District roughly 100 km outside Ho Chi Minh City. He is scheduled to remain there until October 2018. Following his prison release, the singer will be subject to a further two years of house arrest.