The United States is deeply concerned over the sentencing of prominent Vietnamese environmental activist Nguy Thi Khanh to two years in prison. The winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, Khanh worked for decades to promote a transition to sustainable energy sources and decrease her country’s reliance on coal.
Earlier this year, her office and her home were searched, and she was arrested on charges of tax evasion.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price noted in a statement that Khanh is one of several environmental activists “working for the benefit of Vietnam and its people” who have been detained by the government. He pointed out that authorities “arrested her on the same day the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced other environmental activists, and later the same month activist Dang Dinh Bach, to prison terms on similar charges.” The State Department’s most recent report on human rights in Vietnam said that civil society activists alleged these “arrests were linked to their criticism of the government’s role in a number of environmental matters, particularly related to thermal power plant projects in the central part of the country and to...advocacy for press freedom.”
Spokesperson Price called on the Government of Vietnam to release Nguy Thi Khanh, as well as other detained environmental activists. “Civil society partners,” he said, “are a crucial part of helping countries like Vietnam meet their climate change and environmental protection goals.” And as Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said, “A fully functioning civil society, rule of law, and individual liberties form the bedrock on which vibrant societies grow.”