by AFP October 27, 2010,

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam has jailed for up to nine years three labour activists found guilty of disrupting security, after a trial that lasted less than a day, a court official said.

Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung was given the heaviest sentence of nine years while two others, Doan Huy Chuong and Do Thi Minh Hanh, were each sentenced to seven years in jail, said an official of Tra Vinh people’s court in the southern Mekong Delta.

The maximum penalty for the charge of disrupting security is 15 years in prison.

The official, who declined to be named, did not give further details about Tuesday’s trial.

US-based Human Rights Watch said the trio, all in their 20s, were arrested in February for distributing anti-government leaflets and helping workers to organise strikes for better pay.

Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourers) newspaper said they instigated several strikes in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai province between last December and February. They were also charged with distributing “reactionary” leaflets in the two areas, the paper added.

Human Rights Watch said Chuong was first arrested in October 2006 after helping to found the United Workers-Farmers Organisation (UWFO), which Vietnam has banned. State media said he was later sentenced to 18 months in jail for “spreading distorted information to undermine the state”.

Communist Vietnam bans independent labour organisations, while trade unions are under strict government control.

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VIETNAM: LABOUR RIGHTS ADVOCATES FACE PRISON

Jailed Vietnamese labour rights advocates.

Three Vietnamese labour rights advocates face 5-15 years imprisonment for helping organise a strike by 10,000 workers at the My Phong shoe factory in January 2010. Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Do Thi Minh Hanh, all in their 20′s, have been detained virtually incommunicado since their arrests in February. The trial is expected in late October 2010.

The “crimes” alleged by prosecutors are that Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Do Thi Minh Hanh worked in an organised manner, distributed leaflets expressing discontent about working conditions and about the authorities, and helped workers to organise a strike. All of these activities ought to be legal, under Vietnam’s own Constitution and in international instruments to which Vietnam is a signatory. The charges that they encouraged workers to destroy factory properties are without evidence and appear made-up.


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