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Vietnam jails two more men in SEZ protest aftermath

Two men will spend 15 months in jail for disrupting public order during last June’s protest against the special economic zone law.
The sentence was announced Tuesday by a court in Nha Trang in the central province of Khanh Hoa.

47-year-old Ta Thanh Duy and 32-year-old Nguyen Van Y incited the crowd to block the path of a running bus in Nha Trang during a protest against the bill on special economic zones on June 10, causing severe traffic jams, the indictment said.

Nguyen Van Y (L) and Ta Thanh Duy stand trial in Nha Trang on Tuesday.
Nguyen Van Y (L) and Ta Thanh Duy stand trial in Nha Trang on Tuesday.

The two men learnt about the protest on social media and joined it following calls by “strangers,” it said.

Their actions disrupted public order and security, and incited panic, and were deserving of due punishment, it added.

Both men admitted to their actions.

The protests in Nha Trang were among a number that erupted in Vietnam on June 10 and 11. Thousands of people took to the streets in Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and several provinces, with banners and signs calling for the SEZ draft law to be scrapped.

They specifically objected a provision that would allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years, saying that such a law would allow foreign countries to undermine Vietnam’s sovereignty.

With Vietnam delaying passage of the Law on Demonstration several times, all acts to incite public protests are deemed illegal.

Following the demonstrations, police detained hundreds of protesters and said they uncovered evidence that the protests were anti-state actions incited by organizations based in other countries using false, distorted information on the draft laws.

A court in the central province of Ninh Thuan sentenced four protesters to prison last month for disrupting public order, while 16 people in the neighboring Binh Thuan Province were sent to jail in July for the same charges.

Also in July, HCMC put a Vietnamese American protester on trial for inciting violence during the protests, but ended up deporting him, saying it was a first-time offense and he was repentant about his actions.

The bill on special economic zones, originally scheduled to be passed in June, was postponed so that the government has more time to consult with the public, organizations, experts and scientists, Nguyen Hanh Phuc, chief of the National Assembly’s board of secretaries, said last month.