07/26/2017, 19.11
VIETNAM
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Trần Thị Nga gets nine years in prison

She had posted videos and articles accusing the state of violating human rights. None of her relatives or supporters were allowed to attend the trial. Her lawyers plan an appeal.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Human rights activist Trần Thị Nga, 40, was sentenced to nine years in prison and five years’ probation on a charge of conducting “propaganda” against the state.

She was arrested on 21 January for posting videos and articles accusing "the Communist State of violating human rights”, and demanding pluralism and the abolition of the one party state.

Nga was sentenced by a court in northern Vietnam’s Hà Nam province after being convicted under Article 88 of Vietnam’s penal code, a provision frequently used to silence dissident bloggers and other activists.

However, the “evidence gathered against her was not collected according to Vietnamese legal procedures,” said Hà Huy Sơn, one of her defence attorneys.

The court rejected that argument and found her guilty. Sơn expects Nga to appeal the sentence “very soon”.

During court proceedings, only police and people summoned by the court were allowed in the courtroom. No one from the activist’s family was let in.

“The police gave the excuse that the courtroom was full, so we asked them to use speakers so we could hear from outside, but they refused,” activist Lã Việt Dũng said. “At first, they let us stand right in front of the court, but then they said we were disturbing public order and chased us away.”

Nga, who has two children, is well known for defending the rights of Vietnamese migrant workers and victims of government land grabs, and in May 2014 suffered serious injury when she was assaulted by a group of men wielding metal pipes.

Vietnam has one of the worst record for press freedom. According to Reporters sans frontiers, it ranks 175th out of 180 countries.

In recent weeks, other bloggers and activists have been convicted. Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, 37, a Catholic blogger known as Mẹ Nấm or Mother Mushroom, will have to spend ten years behind bars. Pierre Pham Minh Hoang, a Catholic French-Vietnamese blogger, was tried in 2011, stripped of his Vietnamese citizenship, and expelled from the country.

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