Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Vietnamese court sentenced a prominent environmental blogger to 14 years for abusing his democratic freedom and opposing officials on duty, his lawyer Ha Huy Son said.
Vietnamese trade unionist and human rights activist Hoàng Đức Binh, 35, was arrested on May 15 in Nghệ An, central Vietnam, more than a year after organizing protests over an environmental disaster caused by the Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group and the government’s ineffectual response.
Binh is also vice president of Viet Labour, a labor group organization, as well as a member of a group that has protested against China’s occupation of islands in the South China Sea.
The court imposed two seven-year prison sentences, one of the toughest prison terms ever inflicted on an activist.
At the end of the trial, the court also imposed a two-year prison sentence on fellow activist Nguyễn Nam Phong.
In recent months, activists and bloggers have become the target of a government campaign against dissent. Four bloggers and human rights activists were sentenced recently to a total of 24 years in prison and 15 of house arrest.
On January 31, the People’s Court in Hanoi convicted Vũ Quang Thuận, Nguyễn Văn Điển, and Trần Hoàng Phúc, a student, for “propaganda against the state.” The following day, a Ho Chi Minh City Court convicted Hồ Văn Hải for the same crime. The latter had been in detention for more than a year.
More than a hundred people are currently held as political prisoners or prisoners of conscience for exercising their fundamental rights.
Dissidents face harassment, intimidation, surveillance and police interrogation on an almost daily basis, and are often remanded into custody for long periods of time without access to lawyers or family.
Many Catholics have also paid a price for their activism, often receiving harsh sentences, as did recently Nguyễn Văn Oai (five years), Trần Thị Nga (nine), Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh (ten) and Nguyễn Văn Hóa (seven).