Vietnam Appeals Court Upholds Jail Term for Land-Grab Protester
RFA - 11/30/2016
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
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.”
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
Reported by Cat Linh and Gia
Minh for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by