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16 May 2017

Joshua Lipes, Radio Free Asia

Vietnam: Govt. claims that arrested anti-Formosa activist opposed officers and abused democratic freedoms

"Vietnam Defends Arrest of Anti-Formosa Activist", 16 May 2017

Authorities...defended the arrest of an activist who had campaigned against Hanoi’s handling of a devastating toxic waste spill, saying he was responsible for a demonstration that took over a government office and created social disorder.

Nghe An provincial police...detained Hoang Duc Binh..., “opposing officers on duty” and “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state” under Articles 257 and 258 of Vietnam’s penal code. The activist will be held for 90 days, police said.

...Binh had been active in organizing protests over the government’s response to the April 2016 waste spill by Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s steel plant, which killed an estimated 115 tons of fish and left fishermen jobless in four coastal provinces.

Formosa has voluntarily paid U.S. $500 million to clean up and compensate coastal residents affected by the spill, but slow and uneven payout of the funds by the Vietnamese government has prompted protests that continue to be held more than a year later.

Phil Roberston, New York-based Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director, told RFA that the government should be investigating Formosa instead of investigating the people who are demanding it take action against the company.

...The environment ministry announced that Formosa had met conditions to start testing the steel mill after conducting a three-day inspection of the U.S. $11 billion-dollar plant and concluding that Formosa had addressed 52 out of 53 operating violations that had led to the spill.

Part of the following stories

Vietnam: Fish deaths blamed on Formosa Plastics; Taiwan Court dismisses Vietnamese farmers' lawsuit over environmental damage

Formosa Plastics lawsuit (re marine pollution in Vietnam, filed in Vietnam)