Vietnam sentences journalist to 9 years in prison for government criticism

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Dec 15 (EFE).- A Vietnam court has sentenced journalist and rights activist Pham Doan Trang to nine years in prison for “propaganda against the state” by publishing the content defending human rights and criticizing the government.

The court in Hanoi sentenced the journalist on Tuesday after finding her guilty of “producing, storing, disseminating, and propagating information, materials, and products that seek to oppose the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

Trang, 43, the recipient of the Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom award, was detained in October 2020 and charged under laws that criminalize dissent.

Several nonprofits, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, condemned the sentencing and called for the release of the journalist.

“The prolific writer Pham Doan Trang faces harsh retaliation from the government because of her decade of advocacy for free expression, press freedom, and human rights,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“By prosecuting her, the Vietnamese authorities show just how fearful they are of popular, critical voices.”

Amnesty International said it was “especially egregious” that the court was using Trang’s human rights reports and her interviews with international media as evidence of her supposed crimes.

“These proceedings make a mockery of justice and constitute a clear assault on all human rights defenders in Vietnam,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah said.

Trang had become one of the most prominent voices against Hanoi’s communist regime on issues like the environment, women’s rights, police brutality, repression against activists, and conflicts over land rights.

Trang was held incommunicado until Oct.19, 2021, when she was finally allowed to meet with one of her lawyers after she was denied access to her family and legal representation for over a year.

She has authored multiple books on LGBT issues, women’s rights, activism, environmental concerns, and land rights.

In 2019, Reporters Without Borders awarded her a Press Freedom Prize in recognition of her impact.

Her work on the Liberal Publishing House helped it receive the prestigious Prix Voltaire award in 2020 for its continued coverage despite the risks and dangers of reprisals.

Amnesty International recognizes 170 prisoners of conscience, individuals detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights, in Vietnam. It is the highest number recorded by the organization since it began publishing comparable figures in 1996.

The number of prisoners of conscience has increased steeply in recent years and has doubled from 84 from the previous CPV Congress in 2016?, the rights group said. EFE


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