Nguyen Chi Vung, 38, was accused of “making and spreading anti-state information and materials,” Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said, according to a report by Reuters. The trial took place at the People’s Court of Bac Lieu province in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam.
Vung was accused of broadcasting 22 video livestreams on Facebook to “share distorted information” and “encourage people to participate in protests during national holidays.”
The Ministry of Public Security’s statement also said that Vung will face two years of house arrest after his jail term ends.
Just a few days prior, a music teacher in the province of Nghe An was also convicted of spreading anti-state information and handed an 11-year prison sentence. Last week, government critic and journalist Pham Chi Dung was also arrested in Ho Chi Minh City for disseminating “anti-state” propaganda.
New York-based activist NGO Human Rights Watch has blasted Hanoi for its “vaguely worded penal code provisions” it says the country uses “to crack down on dissent.”
Examples of such provisions include “carrying out activities that aim to overthrow the people’s administration,” “undermining national great unity,” “conducting propaganda against the state” and “abusing the rights to democracy and freedom to infringe upon the interests of the state.”
Human Rights Watch also notes that Vietnam’s human rights “situation seriously deteriorated” in 2017, when at least 21 people were arrested by police for “critical speech and peaceful activism.”
An August 2019 Reuters report also reveals that around 70% to 75% of the Vietnamese government’s requests to censor Facebook content were met compared to about 30% in previous years. Facebook also disclosed in May that it had “increased the amount of content to which it restricted access in Vietnam” by more than 500% in the second half of 2018.