Harsh sentence slapped on prominent activist

(VNRN) – A prominent activist and two companions on Aug. 26 received prison sentences in southern Dong Thap province of more than two years each for “disrupting public order” by “obstructing traffic.”

Bui Thi Minh Hang (Bùi Thị Minh Hằng), 50, a well-known human rights activist, was sentenced to three years while the other defendants Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh (Nguyễn Thị Thúy Quỳnh) and Hoa Hao Buddhist Nguyen Van Minh (Nguyễn Văn Minh) were each sentenced to 2 and 2 1/2 years in prison, respectively.

Hang, Quynh and Minh had been arrested and held since February while in a convoy of motorbikes visiting another Hoa Hao activist, Nguyen Bac Truyen (Nguyễn Bắc Truyển), a lawyer and former political prisoner.

“The use of public disorder laws by Vietnamese authorities to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views is alarming,” the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said in a statement issued the same day the sentence was given.

Several supporters who travelled to attend the trial at Dong Thap Provincial People’s Court in the Mekong Delta were detained and then forced back to Ho Chi Minh City by bus after the one-day trial ended.

Amnesty International also expressed concern over the verdict and urged the government to “rein in its police and stop attacks on peaceful activists.”

Human Rights Watch called the charges against the three “bogus.” Its deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said the three had been “railroaded into prison for simply exercising their right to associate and assemble … and for daring to use their voices to show solidarity with others facing persecution.”

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