Vietnam jails environmental activist for seven years

Vietnam has clamped down on freedom of expression ahead of a Communist Party congress by imposing a harsh jail sentence on an environmental activist and blogger for an anti-state campaign.

On Jan. 20, the People’s Court of Hau Giang province in the southern Mekong Delta sentenced Dinh Thi Thu Thuy to seven years in jail for “making, restoring, spreading information and materials so as to oppose the government” under Article 117 of the Criminal Law.

Thuy, a 39-year-old expert in aquaculture, was defended by lawyers Nguyen Van Mieng and Trinh Vinh Phuc at a four-hour trial attended by her father and two sisters guarded by seven policemen.

The lawyers said Thuy was a member of groups called Cuu Long Xanh (Green Mekong) and Suc Song Xanh (Green Life), which aim to protect the environment. Members collect garbage weekly and call on people to safeguard the environment by reducing plastic bags, chemical fertilizers and insecticides in agriculture. They also teach people how to differentiate low-quality foods of Chinese origin.

They said Thuy worked for the groups’ activities to be recognized and approved by local authorities.

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UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City