7 jailed for violent protests against polluting coal power plant

By Que Ha, Thanh Nien News

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Residents gathered to protest pollution at the slag landfill of the Vinh Tan Thermal Power Plant in Binh Thuan Province on April 14, 2015. Photo: Que Ha Residents gathered to protest pollution at the slag landfill of the Vinh Tan Thermal Power Plant in Binh Thuan Province on April 14, 2015. Photo: Que Ha

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A Binh Thuan court has handed down jail sentences of six to nine months to seven people involved in a protest against a polluting local thermal power plant in April, and similar suspended sentences to five others.
They were all found guilty of “public nuisance” and “opposing government officers on duty.”
On April 14 thousands of locals had gathered to protest after strong winds blew an unusually large amount of coal dust from the Vinh Tan 2 Thermal Power Plant into their homes.
They blocked National Highway 1A, causing traffic to back up for 20 kilometers.
Some people threw stones and injured 17 policemen who were trying to maintain order.
It took 30 hours for the protest to end.
Prosecutors sought lenient sentences, saying the defendants were mostly poor daily laborers without criminal records who had acted spontaneously.
The Binh Thuan police have launched an investigation into the plant’s operation, but are yet to announce the results.
The provincial administration has ordered local authorities to relocate residents affected by the plant’s emissions and dust.

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