Vietnam Gives Eight-Year Prison Term to Man For Role in June 10, 2018 Protests

Truong Huu Loc stands in court in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, June 28, 2019

Truong Huu Loc stands in court in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, June 28, 2019

Photo: State Media
RFA, June 28, 2019

A court in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City handed down an eight-year prison term on Friday to a man convicted of “disrupting public security” during rare and widespread protests last year against controversial draft laws, state media said today.

Truong Huu Loc, 56, had brought bread and water to distribute to protesters and had then shouted slogans and exhorted others to join the protests, which swept Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and other Vietnamese cities on June 10, 2018.

Charged under Clause 1, Article 118 of Vietnam’s 2015 Penal Code, Loc had also live-streamed videos of the protests that “attracted tens of thousands of viewers and negative comments and were aimed at reducing people’s trust in the government,” according to reports by VNExpress and Thanh Nien Magazine.

The June 10, 2018 protest in Ho Chi Minh City was one of several held in cities and provinces around the country over two days to express public opposition to a proposed law that would grant 99-year leases for the economic zones to foreign investors.

Many feared that the leases would be snapped up by investors from neighboring China, with which Vietnam has had tense bilateral relations in recent years, in part due to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Some of the demonstrations also focused on a proposed cybersecurity law that protesters said would limit free speech in one-party communist Vietnam, where dissent is rarely tolerated and public unrest is quickly suppressed.

More than 100 convicted

More than 100 people have been tried and convicted so far for their involvement in the protests, with trials held in Vietnam’s south-central provinces of Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan, Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai, state media said on Friday.

In the last week alone, Vietnam has tried three separate cases involving five defendants, with sentences handed down totaling 46 years in prison, for national-security-related crimes, sources said.

Vietnam now holds an estimated 128 prisoners of conscience, according to a May 13, 2019 report by rights group Amnesty International, which included Truong Huu Loc in its list.

Nguyen Kim Binh of Vietnam Human Rights Network said in December, though, that the one-party communist state currently holds more than 200 political prisoners.