Vietnam Appeals Court Upholds Jail Term for Land-Grab Protester

2016-11-30
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Can Thi Theu stands to hear the appeal court's decision, Hanoi, Nov. 30, 2016.
Can Thi Theu stands to hear the appeal court's decision, Hanoi, Nov. 30, 2016.
AFP

A court in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi on Wednesday upheld the conviction of land-grab protester Can Thi Theu, sending her back to prison to serve a 20-month term imposed in September, sources said.

Theu, 54, had been tried on charges of public disorder after being arrested in June for protesting government-sanctioned evictions used to clear the way for commercial development in Duong Noi village outside Hanoi.

It was the second time Theu had been convicted for opposing land grabs. In 2014 she was sentenced to 15 months in jail for her role in a similar protest.

Today’s court decision effectively ends Theu’s rights of appeal, Theu’s lawyer Ha Huy Son told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

“According to the law, there are no more courts that we can appeal to after this. Now, we can only ask for a reconsideration of her case,” Son said.

“We don’t know if she will want her case to be reconsidered, but she protests today’s verdict,” he said.

“This is an unjust sentence that has been set up to put her in jail, to make it easier [for the authorities] to seize people’s land, and to deny the people’s right to complain.”

'Organized robbers'

Also speaking to RFA, Theu’s son Trinh Ba Phuong said that his mother had denounced the court and Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party as “organized robbers” during today’s hearing.

“Justice in Vietnam is a comedian,” Phuong said.

While all land in Vietnam is ultimately held by the state, land confiscations have become a flashpoint as residents accuse the government of pushing small landowners aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, and of paying too little in compensation to those whose land is taken.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson urged Vietnam to immediately release Theu from confinement, adding, “peacefully protesting the unjust confiscation of land should not be considered a crime.”

“After all, how can a farmer like Can Thi Theu survive if the land that she farms, which is the one thing that sustains her, is stripped away?”

Reported by Cat Linh and Gia Minh for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.


Comments (3)
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Hate Communist

from ghet bac Ho

It doesn't matter what the thugs from Ha-Noi want! They can't have the people's family lot - regardless of $$$, both political and economic reasons. It isn't never right to trail and jail someone either! This isn't dark ages anymore. The lady below; Mary Pham; sounds like a communist! I'm sure she left VN for a reason, not sure why she still siding with the communist. What is it about freedom that you don't like? Why do you still endearing communism? You haven't seen the light?

Dec 08, 2016 11:18 PM

Mary Pham

from France

While I do feel for some Vietnamese who displaced by this fast-growing nation and poor handling of the government, this case is more of a drummed-up conspired politics of anti-Vietnam overseas and people like RFA, VOA, BBC... All nations have eminent domain laws and process of lands condemnation - Vietnam is no exception. This former farmer and her family have been receiving significant cash assistance to wave PR campaign with daily FB broadcasts (over 100,000 followers and shares), overseas-based blogs of misinformation (more often about Vietnam politics, Formosa fish-kill, glorification of old South Vietnam regime...), free interviews for Vietnamese language TV channels (Australia, France and the US), meetings with American embassy personnel (possible migration to the US?)- is there time for real farming? Simple google of real estate activities in Vuong Noi, Vietnam reveals that this family wanted 150 times the government relocation subsidy and 5,10 times more than the developer's offering prices for the condominium, apartment and/or other local housings (US$ 1,550/m2). Do they really expect Ha Noi government to pay US$ 2.4 millions for their 1.5 hecta of land in a country of $2,000 per capita income?

Dec 03, 2016 11:16 AM

Hate Communist

from ghet bac Ho

Why haven't the VNmese people seen the real faces of the communist party? The free world have seen the real terror, there are gazillion publications about this subject, German, and Russian satellite countries spent years to cleanse the communism stains! What is it that Vietnamese can't see clearly about communism?

Dec 02, 2016 02:52 PM

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