April 13, 2018
A court in central Vietnam has jailed a Catholic activist after convicting her of subverting the communist state.
The People’s Court in Ha Tinh Province sentenced Teresa Tran Thi Xuan to nine years in prison on April 12 for “attempting to overthrow the people’s government,” the state-run Ha Tinh newspaper reported on April 13.
Xuan, 42, also faces another five years under house arrest after finishing what observers called a very harsh sentence.
The newspaper said Xuan shared articles and video clips on social media from “reactionary groups” to undermine the government.
She was also accused of organizing protests at the local government headquarters against Taiwanese steel firm Formosa which was responsible for a massive toxic waste spill in the province.
During the protests, she incited people to damage public property and cause social disorder in April, 2017, the court said.
Xuan comes from Loc Ha, a local district badly affected by the disaster.
The court was told the activist was also a member the Brotherhood for Democracy, a domestic civil society organization which the government sees as reactionary group trying to overthrow the communist state.
Security was tight outside the courthouse with a strong police presence, witnesses said.
Xuan’s relatives were only informed about the trial — which only lasted two hours — when it was nearly over, said a source who did not wish to be named.
He said Xuan’s sentence was harsh and that she was being punished for helping elderly and poor people and opposing a social injustice created by the authorities.
Also on April 12, a court in neighboring Nghe An province sentenced another activist, Nguyen Viet Dung, to seven years in prison and five years house arrest for conducting “campaigns against the government.”
Meanwhile, another court in Hanoi sentenced activist Vu Van Hung, to one year in jail for “intentionally injuring authorities.”
Over the past two weeks, Vietnam has jailed 10 activists, sentencing them to terms totaling 96 years.