11/03/2017, 16.57
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Activist who protested sea pollution prosecuted for “abusing democratic freedoms”

Hoang Duc Binh, 34, had organised protests against Formosa Plastics, which caused a huge ecological disaster that left hundreds of fishermen out of work. The activist is also a member of an independent labour organisation.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/RFA) – A Vietnamese labour and environmental activist arrested in May after campaigning against Hanoi’s handling of a devastating toxic waste spill, will stand trial in the coming days for “abusing democratic freedoms,” his lawyer told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday after the investigation was completed on Monday.

Hoang Duc Binh, 34, was arrested in central Vietnam’s Nghe An province on 15 May, more than a year after organising protests over the government’s muted response to the April 2016 waste spill by Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s steel plant, which killed an estimated 115 tonnes of fish and left hundreds of fishermen jobless in four coastal provinces.

Although the Taiwanese company appears to have paid the fine to the government, the affected families have not yet received any compensation.

Binh will be prosecuted under Para 2, Art 258 of the Vietnam Penal Code for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organisations and/or citizens”. He could face between two and seven years in jail.

Binh is also the vice president of an independent civic organisation called The Labour Movement of Vietnam, which aims to help workers, and a member of a group opposed to China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

Binh’s prosecution comes amid a major crackdown by Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party on rights defenders and bloggers.

Amnesty International says that Vietnam is currently holding at least 84 prisoners of conscience, the highest number in any country in Southeast Asia.

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