Two more activists jailed as Vietnam steps up crackdown on dissidents
Two activists have been handed lengthy prison sentences in Vietnam as communist authorities step up their crackdown on dissent.The pair were jailed for nine years and seven years respectively after separate trials for attempting to overthrow the government and spreading anti-state propaganda.Nguyen Viet Dung, 32, was convicted by a court in Nghe An province of …
Two activists have been handed lengthy prison sentences in Vietnam as communist authorities step up their crackdown on dissent.
The pair were jailed for nine years and seven years respectively after separate trials for attempting to overthrow the government and spreading anti-state propaganda.
Nguyen Viet Dung, 32, was convicted by a court in Nghe An province of spreading anti-state propaganda by writing and posting on his Facebook page and blog articles which the judges say distorted government policies and defamed the country’s leaders.
His lawyer, Ngo Anh Tuan, said he was also found guilty of flying the flag of former US-backed South Vietnam and shooting video and photographs and posting them on Facebook.
The court also ordered Dung to serve five years of house arrest after completing his prison sentence.
Dung confessed his crimes during the proceedings, the lawyer said, adding that the court rejected his argument for lesser sentences.
Meanwhile, the People’s Court in neighbouring Ha Tinh province convicted Tran Thi Xuan of attempting to overthrow the government and sentenced her to nine years in prison and five years of house arrest, the official Vietnam News Agency reported.
The 42-year-old was accused of affiliating with an outlawed group named Brotherhood for Democracy and instigating protests following pollution by Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastic Group’s steel complex which devastated the fishing industry and tourism in four central provinces two years ago, VNA reported.
Their sentences came just days after seven activists belonging to the same group, including prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, were convicted and jailed for between seven and 15 years for subversion.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for Dung’s release.
“Vietnamese authorities regularly claim to respect human rights but their actions suggest precisely the opposite,” said Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director.
“Vietnam’s government wrongly believe that freedom of expression and association only translate into only saying and doing things approved by the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.”
Despite sweeping economic reforms launched in the mid-1980s that made the country one of fastest growing in the region, the communist government tolerates no challenge to its one-party rule.
International human rights groups and some Western governments often criticise Vietnam for jailing those who peacefully express their views, but Hanoi says only law-breakers are punished.