A Vietnamese citizen active on Facebook was sentenced on Monday by a court in Can Tho province to a two year and three month prison term for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State,” state media reported on Sept. 24.
Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, who used the name Quang Doan online and was arrested on Sept. 1, had posted comments on his page described by authorities as having offended Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party and government.
Police had also discovered two flags of the former South Vietnam, defeated by the North in 1975, during a search of his house, authorities said, adding that Doan was also accused of having incited demonstrators during a mass protest in Can Tho on June 10.
On June 9 and 10, protests rocked major Vietnamese cities including Hanoi and Saigon, also called Ho Chi Minh City, as demonstrators challenged government plans to grant long-term leases for foreign companies operating in special economic zones (SEZs) and the adoption of a controversial cybersecurity law.
The protests prompted clashes with police that saw demonstrators beaten and an unknown number detained.
Two other Can Tho residents active on Facebook were meanwhile sentenced on Sept. 22 for “defaming” Vietnam’s Communist Party and State online, with Nguyen Hong Nguyen receiving a two-year term and Truong Dinh Khang receiving a one-year term, media sources said.
Vietnam, with a population of 92 million people, of which 55 million are estimated to be users of Facebook, has been consistently rated "not free" in the areas of internet and press freedom by Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog group.
Dissent is not tolerated in the communist nation and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Richard Finney.