07/20/2012, 00.00
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Three human rights activists jailed as "saboteurs"

Sentences range from four to five years and a half. They were handed down because the three had exposed corruption and wrongdoings by Bac Giang provincial authorities at the expense of local farmers.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A court in northern Vietnam convicted three human rights activists as "saboteurs". Nguyen Kim Nhan, 63 (pictured), was sentenced to five and a half years in jail in Bac Giang province (northern Vietnam). Dinh Van Nhuong, 54, and Do Van Hoa, 46, were given a four year sentence each. Once they complete sentence, they will be placed under house arrest for a certain period.

The three were charged under Article 88 of the Vietnamese criminal code, which punishes people "conducting propaganda" against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Speaking to foreign media was an aggravating factor.

For Human Rights Watch, this article is one of many vaguely worded, loosely interpreted national security rules used to imprison peaceful political and religious dissidents.

In fact, the three activists had led a peaceful campaign to expose corruption and wrongdoings committed by local authorities against farmers in Bac Giang province.

Throughout Vietnam, the rising value of land is causing increasingly contentious disputes as local authorities take land from peasants to devote to industrial development or tourism.

"Silencing farmers and their proponents will not solve these problems, especially as long as unjust land confiscations and corruption continue throughout Vietnam," said Phil Robertson, HRW deputy director for Asia.

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