Wed, May 17, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Vietnamese who organized anti-FPG plant rally arrested

AP, HANOI

In Vietnam’s latest crackdown on dissent, police have arrested an activist who organized a protest against a polluting steel plant, saying he instigated demonstrators to attack and injure several police officers.

A statement on the Web site of Nghe An provincial police in central Vietnam said 34-year-old Hoang Duc Binh was taken into custody on Monday for allegedly “abusing democratic rights to infringe on the interests of the state, the rights and legitimate interests of organizations and citizens,” and opposing officers on duty.

Police said his alleged incitement of protesters at a local government office last month caused public disorder.

The protest was among several in recent months over massive fish deaths last year in four central provinces that were caused by the release of pollutants from a steel complex owned by a unit of Formosa Plastics Group (FPG), Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp.

The incident, Vietnam’s worst environmental disaster, has devastated fishing communities and tourism. Formosa has been fined US$500 million.

The provincial government said in a statement that after Binh’s arrest, hundreds of protesters on Monday used logs, stones and bricks to disrupt traffic on Highway 1, the nation’s main north-south road.

It blamed a Catholic priest, Nguyen Dinh Thuc, of instigating the protest to demand Binh’s release. Thuc has not been arrested, but the government said his “repeated law violations must be condemned and be seriously dealt with in accordance with the law.”

Last week, police in Ha Tinh issued a warrant for activist Bach Hong Quyen for allegedly disturbing public disorder.

Also on Monday, the Standing Committee of Vietnam’s National Assembly accepted the resignation of Vo Kim Cu as a deputy of the assembly for his role in the Formosa disaster when he served as party chief and chairman of the people’s committee of Ha Tinh Province, where the plant is located, the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

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