Asia

Vietnamese blogger jailed for environmental reports

Activist Nguyen Van Hoa (C) standing trial at a local people's court in the central province of Ha Tinh, Vietnam Image copyright AFP
Image caption Activist Nguyen Van Hoa (C) stood trial at a local people's court in a central Vietnamese province

A Vietnam court has jailed an environmental blogger for seven years for conducting "propaganda against the state".

Nguyen Van Hoa had blogged about a toxic spill from Taiwanese Formosa Plastics steel plant in April 2016.

The spill polluted more than 200km (125 miles) of coast and sparked rare protests in the Communist country.

A court in central Ha Tinh province said on Monday that Hoa, 22, had produced videos calling for protests.

Vietnam has tight media censorship and its one-party regime frequently jails critics.

Hoa was arrested in April for publishing anti-government content.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Protests against the Taiwanese company in 2016 led to a crackdown by the authorities

After massive fish deaths in April 2016, protesters took to the streets calling for a government-led investigation into one of the worst environmental disasters for the country.

Formosa Ha Tinh Steel admitted that toxic waste released into the sea had caused the fish deaths and the company agreed to pay $500m (£371m) in compensation, Vietnamese officials said in June 2016.

The government has said it will prosecute identified Formosa protesters for "causing public disorder".

According to US-based Human Rights Watch, at least 105 people are currently serving prisons terms for expressing critical views of the government and taking part in peaceful protests.

The ruling against Nguyen Van Hoa has been criticised on social media by some in the country.

"A person's ideals can only be reflected by his actions. Hoa proved that when he was not indifferent to the ruined landscape after the Formosa environmental disaster," Pham Le Vuong Cac wrote on Facebook from Ho Chi Minh City.

His post was shared 59 times, in a country where social media is increasingly used as a platform to voice criticism but also carries risks.

Vietnamese American novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen also commented on the case on Twitter.

But one pro-government Facebook page, Viet Nam Thoi Bao, commented in support of Hao's jailing: "The punishment for Nguyen Van Hoa is the consequences for his past activities. This is an example for the so-called 'democrats' who abused their freedom to violate the law."

In June, top blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu, known as 'Mother Mushroom', was jailed for ten years for propaganda against the state after publishing articles about social injustice and criticisms of the toxic spill.

By UGC & Social news

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