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Vietnam on Friday sentenced a former high-school chemistry teacher to eight years in jail for Facebook posts that criticised the one-party state. online news
Bui Van Thuan had spoken out on social media about environmental pollution in Vietnam and also criticised the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The communist state tolerates virtually no opposition to its rule and moves swiftly to stamp out dissent and arrest critics, especially those who find an audience on social media platforms.
Prosecutors at a court in northern Thanh Hoa province accused Thuan of “defaming the prestige and honour of local and central leaders, distorting party and state policies… causing suspicion among the people”, his lawyer Dang Dinh Manh said.
After the jail term, Thuan will be forced to serve another five years under house arrest, Manh added.
Thuan “strongly denied all the allegations and resolutely affirmed his innocence,” according to his lawyer.
The 41-year-old activist, who was arrested in August last year, levelled criticism at the state over various political issues, including the exertion of official pressure to compel people to vote in national elections.
According to his wife, he also joined a demonstration in Hanoi against the Taiwanese industrial conglomerate Formosa, which was responsible for a toxic spill in central Vietnam that devastated fish stocks and ruined thousands of livelihoods.
More than 150 people are serving jail terms in Vietnam on anti-state or related charges, according to Human Rights Watch.
In October, Vietnam was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2023-2025 tenure, a move strongly condemned by human rights groups.
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