US calls on Vietnam to release environmental activist Nguy Thi Khanh

The US government has said it is “deeply concerned” by the sentencing of the Vietnamese environmental advocate and activist Nguy Thi Khanh and called on Vietnam to release her.

Khanh, Vietnam’s first recipient of the prestigious Goldman omgewingsprys, was reported in February to have been arrested on tax evasion charges. Die stigter van die Green Innovation and Development Centre was detained in January.

The state department did not say what she was sentenced for.

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 boost its coal production.

In January her office and home were searched and documents and devices confiscated.

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

Dang Dinh Bach, who heads the Law and Policy of Sustainable Development Research Centre, was sentenced in January to five years in prison for tax evasion. The journalist Mai Phan Loi, leader of the Centre for Media in Educating Community, received a four-year prison term for tax fraud.

Both were board members of the VNGO-EVFTA network, a group of seven community organisations involved in monitoring how the implementation of the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement, which came into force in August 2020, impacts workers’ rights, land rights and environmental strategies.

The US state department said: “The United States calls on the government of Vietnam to release Khanh, who has been recognised internationally for her work to advance climate change and sustainable energy issues in Vietnam, as well as other detained environmental activists working for the benefit of Vietnam and its people.”

With Chris Humphrey in Hanoi

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