Vietnam's flag flying over capital city, Hanoi (CC/Flickr/Nir Sinay)
The flag of Vietnam flying over capital city, Hanoi (CC/Flickr/Nir Sinay)

A court in Vietnam has jailed a Catholic rights activist for nine years.

Teresa Tran Thi Xuan, 42, was convicted on 12 April of “attempting to overthrow the people’s government”, reported Catholic news agency UCAN.

Fellow Christian human rights activist Nguyen Van Dai was jailed earlier in April for 15 years on the same charge.

According to UCAN, Xuan was a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, an organisation founded by Dai to promote human rights through online activity, but seen by Vietnam as a reactionary group trying to overthrow the state.

Xuan’s sentence was described as “harsh” by an anonymous source who told UCAN she was being punished for helping the elderly and poor.

Xuan is from Loc Ha, a district badly affected by a toxic waste spill blamed by the Vietnam government on Formosa Ha Tinh Steel. She was also accused of organising protests against the Taiwanese company. Although Formosa paid out US$500m in compensation, accusations were made last year that only some of that money has been spent on the victims of the accident.

Also on 12 April Vietnam sentenced activist Nguyen Viet Dung to seven years in prison and five years’ house arrest for “campaigns against the government”. Over the past few weeks Vietnam has jailed 10 activists, sentencing them to a total of 96 years, according to UCAN. The 14-year jail sentence given to 35-year-old Catholic Hoang Duc Binh in February drew condemnation from the US State Department, which said it was “deeply troubled” by the conviction.