Vietnam jails top environmentalist for tax evasion

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Nguy Thi Khanh, pictured here in 2020, is one of the few to challenge the government over plans to increase coal power

Lillian SUWANRUMPHA

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A top environmentalist and anti-coal campaigner in Vietnam has been jailed for two years for tax evasion, her NGO said on Saturday.

Globally recognized climate and energy activist Nguy Thi Khanh was sentenced in Hanoi on Friday, a court official confirmed to AFP without giving further details.

The 46-year-old – who was arrested in February ‘on a tax evasion charge’, according to state media – had been among the few in the communist nation to challenge government plans to boost coal power to fuel economic development. .

Khanh, Vietnam’s first winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, convinced officials to remove 20,000 megawatts of coal-fired power from the national energy plan by 2030.

“Because of his contribution to Vietnamese society and his works, the verdict given to Khanh was too severe,” his environmental NGO GreenID told AFP, referring to the two-year sentence for tax evasion.

Michael Sutton, executive director of the Goldman Environmental Prize, called for Khanh’s release.

“We believe the charges against her are part of a larger effort to silence environmental leaders in Vietnam,” Sutton said.

Prior to her detention, Khanh said she wanted Vietnam to scale back its ambitious coal projects in favor of more renewable energy options.

In an interview with AFP in 2020, she acknowledged the risks of her activism.

“When we got global recognition, interest groups recognized who their enemy was, and they are very powerful,” she said.

Khanh’s imprisonment comes as raids targeting corrupt officials and those involved in economic scandals have intensified.


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