February 13, 2015
Feb 13, 2015 | Vu Quoc Ngu (Defend the Defenders)
Vietnam’s communist government has imprisoned three activists for anti-state charges after releasing two bloggers on bait to go home to spend the Lunar New Year or Tet, foreign media reported.
The People’s Court of the southern province of Dong Nai on Feb 12 found Pham Minh Vu, Le Thi Phuong Anh and Do Nam Trung guilty of conducting activities “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Criminal Code.
At the open one-day trial with maximum security while families and friends of the accused were not allowed to enter the courtroom, Vu was sentenced to 18 months in jail while Trung and Anh received respective 14 months and 12 months in prison.
The trio, members of the unsanctioned Brotherhood of Democracy, was arrested on May 15 last year when they went to Dong Nai to cover news on anti-China protests triggered by the Chinese illegal deployment of $1 billion HYSY-981 oil rig in Vietnam’s central offshore.
Initially, they were accused of inciting anti-China riots in which angry workers attacked Chinese workers and destroyed China-invested factories in Dong Nai province’s industrial zones. However, due to lack of solid evidence, Vietnam’s investigation agency changed allegation.
According to local bloggers, the violent acts against foreigners and their companies were not supported by many Vietnamese activists. Anh, Trung and Vu were among people calling protesters to act peacefully, and they went to Dong Nai province to cover news on anti-China protests.
Several days prior to the trial, r. Bernard Fernand Ripoll, a member of the Australian House of Representatives since 1998, sent a letter to Vietnamese Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong to ask him to unconditionally release three democracy activists, saying the charges against them were fabricated.
Earlier this week, Vietnam allowed bloggers Nguyen Quang Lap and Le Hong Tho, who were arrested in early December last year for anti-state propaganda and abusing democracy, to go home while the investigation against them is still running.
Lap, who had running Que Choa blog, has a number of serious diseases.
Both Lap and Tho had posted a number of articles condemning China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea.
The Vietnamese communists have ruled the country for decades, and they have vowed to maintain the nation under one-party regime. Their government has tolerated any criticism.
According to international human rights bodies, Vietnam is holding over 200 political dissidents, including over 30 bloggers.