Prison confirmed for youth who wore Saigon insignia

Nguyen Viet Dung (left edge) and his companions were arrested shortly after the rally.

Nguyen Viet Dung (left) and his companions were arrested shortly after the rally.

The court of appeal in Hanoi has reduced a prison term imposed on a young protester, who took part in an environmental rally in the city last year.

Nguyen Viet Dung was convicted of inciting disorder and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. The court of appeal reduced the sentence to 12 months.

It is thought he was singled out by the authorities because he wore insignia that bore some resemblance to that of the South Vietnamese armed forces, who were defeated by the Communists in 1975.

He and four of his companions, all wearing the same badge emblazoned with a gold eagle on black T-shirts, were the only ones arrested amongst the 200 demonstrators.

The national flag, military uniform or anything else reminiscent of the old Republic of Vietnam have been outlawed since the fall of Saigon.

The former government of the south is officially termed a “puppet, reactionary regime”.

Dung and his four companions had come to Hanoi from the central province of Nghe An, which was never part of South Vietnam, to take part in the rally.

The demonstrators marched around Hoan Kiem lake in the centre of the city to protest against the local government’s plans to cut down some of Hanoi’s old trees.

The five were arrested after the demonstration, but four were soon released after questioning.

Activists believe that Dung was held and prosecuted because the police thought he was the leader of the group.

16 members of the Green Hanoi movement that organised the rallies had attempted to witness the initial trial, held last December, but were refused entry to the court.