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Vietnamese Facebook users shoot long jail terms for “anti-state” posts – Radio Free Asia

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Vietnamese courts on Tuesday sentenced to jail terms two Facebook users accused of posting articles opposing the country’s one-party communist state and calling for violence against the judiciary and police, according to reports. state media.

In Nghe An province, north-central Vietnam, Nguyen Van Lam, 51, was sentenced to nine years in prison for posting anti-state writings and sharing videos and other content, including RFA issues, considered politically subversive.

He was charged under Article 117 of the Vietnamese Penal Code of 2015 for “creating, storing, disseminating information and documents against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, a provision of Vietnamese law frequently used by authorities to stifle criticism of the government and other peaceful voices of dissent.

Those convicted of crimes under the law can be sentenced to terms ranging from five to 20 years in prison.

According to the Nghe An Police Investigation Agency, Lam had posted numerous stories, images and videos violating Vietnamese law from 2017 to November 2020, including live videos and stories from RFA and other online sources. , and 18 stories written by himself on his cell phone. .

Among Lam’s messages available online, several mock authorities with scathing comments on reports from RFA or other media.

On October 26, 2020, Lam wrote, “The Vietnamese people call on international organizations (and) Interpol to monitor (Vietnam’s) political and economic machinery.

The comments “sullied the regime, insulted Party and state leaders, called for a multi-party and pluralist government and distorted the real situation in Vietnam,” state media said.

News reports did not mention the date of Lam’s arrest or whether he was assisted by a defense lawyer during his trial.

At least 14 Vietnamese have been jailed following a conviction on charges under Article 117 since January 2021. Pham Chi Dung, president of the Association of Independent Journalists of Vietnam has drawn the heaviest sentence so far this year at 15, followed by Nguyen Tuong Thuy, vice president of the Association, who was imprisoned for 11 years.

Vietnamese blogger Tran Hoang Minh is pictured (inset, right) during his trial in Hanoi on July 20, 2021 and (left) in court in September 2020. Photo: State Media

Calls to violence

Separately, a court in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Monday sentenced Facebook user Tran Hoang Minh to five years in prison for online posts criticizing verdicts following a deadly rights clash. land outside Hanoi in 2020 and calling for the murder of the judge. involved in the case.

Minh had been indicted under article 331 of the Vietnamese Penal Code of 2015 for “abuse of the rights to liberty and democracy to violate the interests of the state, [and] the rights and legitimate interests of organizations and individuals.

From October 2018 to September 2020, Minh used two Facebook accounts to post articles presenting his personal perspective on social and political life in Vietnam, state media reported, adding that 51 of his articles criticized the January 9, 2020 raid in Dong. Tam by 3,000 security officers intervening in a long-standing dispute over a construction site for a military airport about 40 kilometers south of Hanoi.

Dong Tam village elder Le Dinh Kinh, 84, was shot and killed by police in the raid, and Kinh’s sons Le Dinh Chuc and Le Dinh Cong were sentenced to death on September 14 2020 in connection with the death of three police officers who were also killed in the clash.

After a trial held in September 2020 for residents of Dong Tam accused of assaulting security agents involved in the raid, Minh published five articles calling for the murder of the judge in charge of the case and “as many agents” public safety as possible, ”Minh’s indictment. mentionned.

After being summoned by authorities for questioning, Minh surrendered to the police, state media said, adding that he was not represented by a defense attorney during his trial on July 21 and that he was not represented by a defense attorney. ‘no member of his family was present in court.

Severe forms of persecution

As the Vietnamese media all obey the orders of the Communist Party, “the only independently reported sources of information are bloggers and independent journalists, who are subjected to increasingly severe forms of persecution,” the agency said. press freedom monitoring Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its 2021 Press Freedom Index.

Measures against them now include assaults by plainclothes police officers, RSF said in its report, which places Vietnam 175th out of 180 countries surveyed globally, a ranking unchanged from last year.

“To justify their imprisonment, the Party resorts to penal codes, in particular three articles under which ‘activities aimed at overthrowing the government’, ‘anti-state propaganda’ and ‘abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to threaten state interests “” are punishable by long prison terms, “the rights group said.

Vietnam’s already low tolerance for dissent deteriorated sharply last year with a spate of arrests of independent journalists, editors and Facebook figures as authorities continued to stifle criticism ahead of the ruling Communist Party Congress in January. But arrests continued at a steady pace throughout the first half of 2021.

Reported by the Vietnamese service of RFA. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.