Vietnam: Maxiumum Prison Sentence for Anti-Famosa Activist
March 2, 2018, 7:13 am
Environmental activist HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh was sentenced to 14 years in prison for criticising the Formosa disaster and government-critical blogging; one of the harshest sentences ever delivered to a Vietnamese activist. He has been detained since his arrest on 15 May 2017.
HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh was convicted on 6 February 2018 by the People’s Court of Di n Ch u district in Viet Nam’s north-central Ngh An province of “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” and “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State”. Sentenced to 14 years in prison, HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh received the combined maximum prison sentence for both charges (Articles 330 and 331 respectively of Viet Nam’s 2015 Criminal Code). On the day of the hearing, authorities of Ngh An province ordered all roads to the court to be blocked by police and arrested several of HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh’s relatives on their way to the Court; only his parents were allowed to access the courtroom.
On several occasions, Vice Chairman of the Independent Viet Labour Movement and activist blogger, HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh had live-streamed and critically commented on police brutality during peaceful protests against Taiwanese company Formosa, blaming it for causing an environmental disaster in the central costal region, which had occurred in April 2016. The 2016 Formosa disaster had destroyed livelihoods and the environment, HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh assisted affected fisherfolk in seeking justice by demanding that Formosa pay adequate compensation and clean up the chemical spill.
On 15 May 2017, while he was travelling with Father Nguy n ? nh Th c, a Catholic priest and active supporter of victims of the Formosa incident, HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh was forcefully arrested by the police. While detained in Ngh An province, HoÃ ng ??c BÃ¬nh was reportedly forced to sign a confession statement by authorities.
Vietnamese authorities continue to harass a large number of activists who peacefully express their critical opinions about the Formosa disaster; HoÃ ng ??c B nh’s 14-year jail term counts as one of the harshest sentences ordered for activists to date