People jailed for protesting against a road demolition in Nghe An
Seven members of Binh Thuan parish were tried for “resisting on-duty state officials” and clashing with police. They did not benefit from legal counsel nor from the presence of family members during the trial. One of them claims that he was beaten in prison.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – A Vietnamese court handed down prison sentences against seven members of Binh Thuan parish, Nghe An province, on the coast of north-central Vietnam, convicted for protesting against a road demolition.
Citing local sources, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that the defendants were denied legal counsel and support from family members in the courtroom. Instead, the authorities kept relatives in the dark by threatening "even harsher" penalties should the accused seek a lawyer’s assistance.
The People's Court in Nghe An sentenced the defendants to prison terms ranging from four months to one year under Article 330 of the Criminal Code for "resisting on-duty state officials" during the protest.
The latter began on 13 July when residents sought to protect a key local road, taking a violent turn when hundreds of riot police in full gear moved in to prevent the removal of a fence that blocked the road that connects the parish to a national highway.
The road, which had been in use for more than 100 years, is located on land that the government granted to a private company to develop as an industrial zone.
According to the charges, the defendants "obstructed" the workers set to remove the road and clashed with the police sent to protect the workers, throwing bottles and other objects against them. As a result, five officers were injured and had to be hospitalised.
Protesters had a different version. According to them the police threw smoke grenades and explosive at them.
Of the three people released recently for serving their sentence, at least one said that he was beaten while in custody.
Reacting to the sentence, some parishioners in Binh Thuan said that it was unjust and excessive. Residents just wanted to protect a road that had existed for over a century, and had been crucial to local businesses and transport.