Activists and other individuals that call attention to the country´s problems continue to face harsh repressions in Vietnam. Just yesterday, Hoang Duc Binh, a young activist, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for livestreaming a video from a fishermen´s protest.

The fishermen protested against the activities of the Chinese-Taiwanese steel plant Farmosa, which releases toxic substances into the sea. The participants of the peaceful demonstration were stopped and physically harassed by the security forces. Binh was commenting the situation on a live stream on his Facebook page in last year´s February. On February 6, 2018, he was convicted of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state” and of “opposing officials on duty”.

Ha Huy Son, Binh´s lawyer, said Binh confessed to his actions, but he denied committing a crime because what he said and recorded was true. The activist Nguyen Nam Phong, who was helping Binh, was sentenced to two years. “The trial was conducted without evidence and objectivity,” commented Ha Huy Son for the Reuters agency.

Five similar sentences have fallen on other individuals within the past week. On January 31, three people were sentenced to 6 – 8 years in prison for “spreading anti-state propaganda”. One of them, Tran Hoang Phuc, a law student, was among those meant to meet with the then US president Barrack Obama during his state visit of Vietnam in 2015. Phuc was not allowed to enter the conference room where the meeting was being held because the Vietnamese authorities found out he was carrying documents about the environmental disaster caused by the release of wastewater by the Formosa steel plant.

On February 1, another court hearing took place. Ho Hai, a doctor and a blogger, was sentenced to three years in jail.

The human rights situation in Vietnam has worsened significantly during 2017. According to the Human Rights Watch, last year saw at least 21 people arrested by the police based on dubious charges, which are often used to punish those making critical remarks about the state and those who pursue peaceful activism.

There are more than a hundred political prisoners in Vietnam today. Remarks that are critical to the Communist regime are severely suppressed.

Further reading:

July saw another warning shot to those critical of the Vietnamese regime

For more information about the issue, contact Zuzana Gruberová, Media Coordinator of People in Need's Centre of Human Rights and Democracy, +420770101144.

Author: ČvT