Twenty protesters went on trial on Monday and were quickly sentenced for their roles in June 10 protests in Vietnam’s Bien Hoa city, with prison terms handed out of from eight months up to one and a half years in prison, sources in the country said.
Tran Nguyen Duy Quang was sentenced to one and a half years, Pham Ngoc Hanh to one year and four months, and 13 others given prison terms of from eight to ten months. Five others, needed at home to care for their children, were placed under house arrest for terms ranging from one year to one year and two months.
All had been convicted of “disrupting public order” in the June 10 protest in southeast Vietnam’s Dong Nai province, which official media in Vietnam said had blocked roads and created traffic jams on major highways in the area.
Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service following the trial, Nguyen Ngoc Trung—father of defendants Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong and Nguyen Thi Truc Anh, both women—said that he and other family members had been barred from the court building during the trial.
“They did not let us in. We had to sit outside,” he said.
“Though we looked around for a lawyer, we couldn’t find one,” adding that he had been allowed to meet with his daughters only three times before their trial.
Trung had earlier sought the help of lawyers to defend his daughters, but none would agree to take the case, he said.
Also speaking to RFA, Nguyen Duy Tan, the parish priest of Tho Hoa church in Dong Nai province, said that protesters detained on June 10 had demonstrated peacefully, and were only “expressing their opinions.”
“But the government took away the protesters' right to express themselves by intimidating them,” Tan said.
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).
The protests prompted clashes with police that saw demonstrators beaten and an unknown number detained.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.