Award-winning Vietnamese environmentalist arrested as rights groups fear ‘crackdown’ | Global development


Nguy Thi Khanh, the first Vietnamese recipient of the prestigious Goldman environmental award, has been arrested for tax evasion.

The founder of the Green Innovation and Development Center was arrested last month, but her detention was confirmed by state media on Wednesday.

Khanh, who won the Goldman Prize in 2018, has campaigned for Vietnam to adopt greener energy strategies, putting her at odds with the country’s ambitions to increase coal production.

Last month, his office and home were raided and documents and devices were confiscated. It is understood she was allowed to speak with her lawyer, who was not immediately available for comment.

Khanh is the latest activist to be detained by authorities on tax-related charges.

Last month, Dang Dinh Bach, who heads the Center for Sustainable Development Law and Policy Research, was sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion, while journalist Mai Phan Loi, head of the Center for Media in Educating Community, was sentenced to four 1 year in prison for tax evasion.

Both are board members of the VNGO-EVFTA network, a group of seven community organizations involved in monitor the impact of the implementation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force in August 2020, on workers’ rights, land rights and environmental strategies.

The organizations said Vietnamese authorities began cracking down on their activities last year after launching a campaign to promote clean energy.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said: “Now that Hanoi has finished imprisoning all political dissidents while the world was distracted by Covid-19, the state’s repressive apparatus turns against environmental and social NGOs.

“Let’s hope the world fights harder for civil society leaders than it did for dissidents, many of whom are now serving long prison terms for simply speaking out against rights abuses and corruption.”


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