Statement attributable to Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch on the November 30 appeal of prominent land rights activist Can Thi Theu at the People’s Court of Hanoi

Bà Cấn Thị Thêu trong phiên sơ thẩm hôm 20/09
Mrs. Can Thi Theu at the first trial on September 20

“The only real justice that the Appeal Court could have provided for Can Thi Theu was to dismiss these bogus charges and immediately release her, but this being Vietnam and its kangaroo courts, there was never any possibility of that. Sending Can Thi Theu back to prison doesn’t change the fact peacefully protesting the unjust confiscation of land should not be considered a crime. The Vietnamese government should urgently amend the land law and its grievance processes to protect farmers’ rights, not to punish them for voicing their opinions and demanding action on their claims. After all, how can a farmer like Can Thi Theu survive if the land that she farms, which is the one thing that sustains her, is stripped away?”

Background: Can Thi Theu, 54,  is a prominent land rights activist. In June 2016, Hanoi authorities arrested and charged her with “disrupting public order” for leading people from Hanoi’s Duong Noi ward in carrying banners to various government offices to petition against land confiscation. She was also accused of urging people from Duong Noi ward to boycott the national election in May. After being arrested, Can Thi Theu carried out a hunger strike for more than 10 days. In September 2016, the People’s Court of Dong Da district (Hanoi) convicted her to 20 months in prison.

For more information on Can Thi Theu, see HRW press release: https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/17/vietnam-drop-charges-and-free-land-rights-activist