Đời SốngVietnam

Vietnamese woman fined for calling judges ‘idiots’

The wife of a prominent political prisoner said she has been fined more than US$300 for posting his photo on Facebook overlaid with text saying, “Idiots judge the innocent.”

Nguyen Thi Chau was slapped with a fine of 7.5 million dong for the text and photo of her husband Nguyen Ngoc Anh, who is serving a six-year sentence for “anti-state propaganda” for videos he shared criticizing the Vietnamese government on several issues.

She posted the photo the first time about four years ago, and has since reposted it around 10 times.


According to police in the southern coastal province of Ben Tre, Chau’s fine is for “providing false information, insulting the prestige of agencies and organizations” under Article 101 of the Vietnamese government’s Decree No.15 on penalties for administrative violations against regulations on postal services and telecommunications.

Chau told RFA Vietnamese that the accusation against her is wrong. She said she had seen the photo and text on another social media post and she reposted it.

“I only posted information about my husband, not society. How come they accused me of that?” she said. 

“When I saw a photo of my husband with the phrase ‘idiots judge the innocent’ on the internet and believed my husband is innocent, I downloaded and put it up in Facebook posts from time to time,” she said. “I did not say that any agencies or organizations were ‘idiots.’”

Chau was told that she must remove the “false information” on her Facebook account within seven days upon the receipt of the decision, otherwise, the decision will be coercively implemented.

Freedom of expression

In a post about the fine on her Facebook account, Chau said that in a meeting with the cybersecurity officers, she told them that she would sign the decision not because she feared the consequences but because it would mean that the police were claiming themselves as ‘idiots’ as the phrase does not refer to any one person or government entity.

She said the police first questioned her about the photo on Feb. 28 but not at any point prior to that.


Chau believes that by imposing the fine, the police are trying to prevent her from sharing information about her husband and commenting on social issues on Facebook.

She said the fine violates her freedom of expression, a right enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution and international conventions that Vietnam has signed.

“Provisions on penalties of Vietnam’s laws are vague, so [the authorities] can do whatever they want while their citizens are not allowed to say anything, “ she said. 

“In Vietnam, how can you have ‘independence, freedom and happiness’ if you don’t have freedom of expression?”

Translated by Anna Vu and Long Nguyen. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster. 


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