Vietnamese activist jailed for 14 years for live-streaming protest against steel plant’s pollution: The US$10.6 billion steel complex discharged toxins such as cyanide and phenol during a test run in April 2016, killing massive amounts of fish and other sea life along more than 200km of coastline.

Vietnamese activist jailed for 14 years for live-streaming protest against steel plant’s pollution: The US$10.6 billion steel complex discharged toxins such as cyanide and phenol during a test run in April 2016, killing massive amounts of fish and other sea life along more than 200km of coastline.
Vietnamese activist jailed for 14 years for live-streaming protest against steel plant’s pollutio...

During last February’s live-stream on Facebook, Binh commented that the fishermen were stopped and beaten by authorities. Son said Binh told the court that he made the comments, but he denied committing a crime because what he said was true.

His real crime wasn't lying, his crime was telling the truth even when the truth is unpleasant. Jailing people for having morals is a good way to destroy a country long-term.

lasted half a day Tuesday, Hoang Duc Binh was convicted of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state

Makes sense /s

His crime was getting in the interests of powerful people. If telling the truth benefited them, he wouldn't be in jail.

Several years Decades ago it was found that CPU manufactures (Intel and IBM) were causing severe medical problems to employees who were handling the chemicals used for making components, in particular pregnant women. These companies put up a fight in court but realized the point was moot. There was so much evidence against them (three independent studies some paid for by the manufactures themselves) it was cheaper to just ship their factories overseas. And they did. Over the course of a few years millions of women in East Asia started having health issues and birth defects. But in these countries there's little oversight of this sort of stuff. In 2010 the issue has since come up again when more studies and investigations showed the same health problems in the countries production was outsourced to.

Companies over simplify the reason for outsourcing this stuff by saying, "it's cheaper to manufacture overseas and there's too many regulations." What they really mean to say is, "the process of making our products is a major health concern and it's too expensive to pay the legal fees of harming pregnant women and causing horrific cancer so we'll stay over hear and kill people who we deem as lesser humans."

EDIT: link for the curious.

EDIT 2: I want to make sure my post and source match information.

From Catch-22: "he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them."

The US$10.6 billion steel complex owned by Formosa Plastics Group, which includes a steel plant, a power plant and a deep seaport in Ha Tinh province, discharged toxins such as cyanide and phenol during a test run in April 2016.

It killed massive amounts of fish and other sea life along more than 200km of coastline, devastating fishing communities and tourism in four central provinces. The plant owner has paid US$500 million in compensation.

The chemical spill, one of the country’s worst environmental disasters, sparked rare protests.

Saying it was a test run makes it sound even worse.

"We're just making sure the cyanide is working properly."

I cheer for the day this planet kills us all.

So since this is a topic about my country, I will give you guys some of the trivias you guy should know.

1st: This is a Taiwanese owned firm. Some say it is China masquerading as Taiwan, but does not matter. What matters is that they are in cahoot with the Vietnamese government, paying big bribes back and forth. And yes, nobody is going to jail for bribery in Vietnam.

2nd: They have been there for a long ass time, and until this day they are still pulling this crap. The gov did force them to pay 500 million USD in damage to the people but A/ The "people" here are local officials and B/ The government paid back the company massive kickback, greater than that 500 million USD to keep them happy.

3rd: The people give up. Except for those directly affected (even them in many case), people just ignore it. They refrained from eating fish, and those who have money buy fish from the South faraway from the toxic zones or from aboard. Nobody wants to do anything, since this 14 year sentence is a good reminder for the people that you don't cross the communist party. Fisheries are now abandoned, and Vietnamese fishermen have to venture further into other fishing zones faraway from home, straying into foreign water, and end up getting shot for violating sovereignty. Which actually helps the party, as the people now have this mindset that fishermen are a bunch of brutes and therefore their claims are doubtful.

4th All dissidents are now treated as traitors. The youth are brainwashed to the point that they believe blindly in the party. Just check the facebook page like "Hội ghét phản động" or "Comrade commissar" aka "Đơn vị tác chiến điện tử" and see how brainwashed they are. Or go to forums like vozforums. They think that the party is not at fault, and they are blind loyal. Grown ups fully know the cost of going against the party, so they keep their mouth shut

"We'll have none of that democratic freedoms stuff."

“we’ll stay over here and kill people who we predict we can get away with killing.” FTFY

We're killing the ourselves and the planet - the planet won't kill us.

Edit: we're damaging the biosphere beyond repair in its current form. We are murdering literally thousands, if not millions of species. There is no proof or data that what we are doing to the environment will recover at any point. If Earth does survive it will be fundamentally different. There may never be another sentient species again.

Stop trying to comfort yourself with this 'oh, earth will survive' bs. We're destroying it.

Edit2: Ocean acidification. Methane being released from the ocean as it warms. Ice caps melting. Extreme drought.

I'm glad you saying "oh but some stuff will survive" is able to bring you comfort. It's not like we're murdering all these species or anything in the process. But y'know, get mad at me. Go ahead. I have never received so much hate for simply stating the obvious before.

If only you could put that energy into something constructive like helping the environment. Nobody's expecting massive sacrifices. Just try and be aware. That's all. Just try to be better. What's the worst that'll happen?

Even the smallest amount effort can help.

I'm British Born Vietnamese and have loads of family still back home - when the issue broke out loads of family back home told us that their locals were losing their livelihood.

Lifelong fishermen had no fish to sell that was edible, and people would be thwarted of buying it because of the risk of contamination - it ruined coastlines and people were put off from visiting certain areas in fear of the toxins. Loads of protests were staged but shut down pretty quickly because the Government didn't want people to know that the company had made a payment they accepted to dump on our waters

Awful, and that's not even considering potential long term health problems in the thousands of people that eat the fish

infringe on the interests of the state

Well at least they are honest about it.

Unless the planet blows up DBZ style, the planet is going to be here long after we're gone just like it was here long before we arrived.

The powerful people of this planet are killing us all and you just want to roll over, take it, then let them kill you?

Fuck that.

They made the right call. Let something like this slide, and the next thing you know he’ll be committing full on treason by not clapping when the head of state makes a speech.

You know how everyone harps about China? Well, Vietnam is China 20 or 30 years ago. Government is desperate for outside investors and they don't give a fuck about the pollution and the workers get paid peanuts. All of the manufacturing companies are trying to move there if they can - a company I worked for was doing the same, although they were having terrible teething issues as the low cost was being outweighed by an even less educated work force and lack of infrastructure.

I don't understand this. I thought big companies would just regulate themselves

I run a small environmental conservation NGO in Vietnam. As a foreigner I'm relatively safe from that sort of thing happening to me, but I still have to be very careful in what I say and how I say it. When it comes to my team, all Vietnamese folks, I have to make extra sure that they are as protected as I am able.

The government of Vietnam is a weird mix of extremely authoritarian and extremely weak. Provincial and district level politicians regularity break all the national laws, corporations and rich folks do whatever the hell they want, local people ignore the majority of the laws, and the central government largely looks the other way as they have no real way to actually enforce things. However, anything that can be taken as criticism of the government is immediately pounced upon and people thrown in jail, even if what they've been doing is entirely legal.

In my experience here the majority of locals despise and mistrust the government, but there is a sort of mass momentum of fear and fatalism amongst the population at large, and the government will do anything to retain the appearance of power, despite the real authority being held by a small number of private citizens and corporations.

When Formosa Plastics dumped those chemicals and killed the coastline the first thing the government did was to pretend it didn't happen. Next they admitted it happened and blocked all texts mentioning things that might be related to it. Among other things, texts with the word "fish" (in Vietnamese) were blocked. The politicians who took Formosa Plastics's money to look the other way were eventually "punished" by being made to retire early, but that was the extent of their punishment. The kept their money, they kept their status, nothing actually happened to them. Local people who lost their livelihoods and spoke out against it were jailed though.

If you look through the Vietnamese news you'll often find articles about elephant ivory, pangolin scales, frozen tigers, rhinoceros horn, etc confiscated, but you'll rarely ever hear anything about what happens to those things once they're confiscated. That's because they often are sold by the people who confiscated to them to the people who were buying them in the first place. I saw 4.5 tons out of 5 tons of confiscated elephant ivory just "disappear" while it was being held by the local government and police after being confiscated.

Vietnam is generally considered to be the second most corrupt nation in SE Asia.

But first, we'll wait ten episodes before we can see the planet's final form.

Cyanide isn’t the problem; it breaks down quick. The problem is heavy metals...

So the owner of the steel complex is Formosa Plastics Group owned by Taiwanese.

In July 2016, FPG pledged to pay compensation to Vietnamese impacted by the environmentally toxic discharge in the amount of $500 million.

I don't really see how that is enough and the money most likely did not go to those who were impacted.

It should be noted that this is hardly the first time such dumping has led to widespread waterway contamination in Vietnam. Its a systemic problem that the government does not want to address, since that would likely drive away capital.

This is a major consequence of the US business community (and other countries as well) offshoring manufacturing to low regulation countries, essentially offshoring our pollution, but worse since many of these countries allow direct dumping without any form of treatment or recycling of wastes.

One of the many benefits of the "free trade" bonanza of recent decades, which has mostly been about US corporations trading internally and using labor and regulatory arbitrage between locales, to the detriment of workers in the US and communities downstream/wind of the factories in these poor countries.

Corporations unchecked desire for bigger profit margins.


Vietnam generally does not care about what ppl say online unless you become semi famous or well known. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp are all available and not blocked like in China. It is not uncommon for Viets to speak freely online about govt issues. What gets ppl in trouble is if they have a following on social media and say something negative or incite things like this activist did.

So in many ways it is 1000 times better than China.

This reminds me of a popular excuse for manufacturers who decide to automate their processes: "we just can't find anyone to do the work!*"

*the work being menial, repetitive manual labor for barely above minimum wage, with absolutely garbage hours and no benefits. Gee, I wonder why no one wants to work for you. It must be because those darn mellenials are so lazy, right?

"The planet" is used to encompass the entire biosphere. Yes it has endured much worse but we are also killing it. We are in the 6th mass extinction event and we are killing species at a rate that rivals a 10km wide asteroid slamming into the Earth.

The idea that we aren't killing the planet just ourselves is absurd and irritates me when mentioned. Lifeforms on earth will endure but not the ones we have today. It takes a special kind of selfishness and arrogance only humans can manage to be indifferent to the wholesale extinction of species and billions of living things simply because "something" will make it through in the end.

I know you are joking here. This needs to be mentioned, the concept is stupid and weak.

Regulation requires punishment. 

No company would fine themselves or put any of their management in jail, the most they can do "self regulating" is to fire, reassign or close down that department and move on. That has no sting and it would not deter the next up and coming manager from coming up with the same concept to cut corners and costs.

Self regulation is like asking the criminal to control themselves and not do it again.

I know you are joking here. This needs to be mentioned, the concept is stupid and weak.

Regulation requires punishment.

No company would fine themselves or put any of their management in jail, the most they can do "self regulating" is to fire, reassign or close down that department and move on. That has no sting and it would not deter the next up and coming manager from coming up with the same concept to cut corners and costs.

This is a comment from a VN national in an expat FB group based out of Hanoi:

Article is good but not fully accurate: during last year alone, it's more than 50 young Vietnamese who have been sentenced to 6, 8 or 10 years of imprisonment for having raised their voice against major environmental or social issue, most of the time in a very peaceful, intelligent and constructive manner.

This happens in the US with the meat farming industry. Ag Gag laws.

People can't says shit or even film the slaughterhouses because those industries have bribed the government so heavily for protections.

Why are we making a bigger stink about this happening in vietnam than in the US?

Check out the list over at /sub/bizbehavingbadly and boycott their products and services, if that's even possible anymore.

Thank you for this. I'm so sorry that this is happening.

How do you protect yourself when you say things like this online? Aren't you worried they'll go after you or your family?

Makes me thankful for the freedom I enjoy here in Canada, even if it is slowly being eroded away a piece at a time in the name of terrorism or some other bogeyman

The headline makes it look like it's a US owned company, it is Taiwanese. The valuation of it is 10.6 billion USD. It's a travesty this man is being jailed.

Yea think cadmium

Remember writing up this for environmental Chem undergrad exam ->

I'll always remember itai itai means ouch ouch haha, srs that bone disease sounds brutal tho :(

We're not killing the planet, it has endured much worse. But we're doing a really great job of killing ourselves

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do. I am a Vietnamese, and let me tell you the situation right now. The people give up. They do not care any more. The youths are brainwashed to the point they believe this guy is a traitor, that anyone who supports him is some kind of CIA paid shill, and the factory is a necessary evil to develop the nation. The older generation avoid the problem by either move out of the nation or pay more money to get better, higher quality food from aboard. The poor just don't care. So yeah, there is nothing you can do

The person in the article agreed with you and got 14 years in prison for it. Caring about others and trying to help is a crime in some places...

His real crime wasn't lying, his crime was telling the truth even when the truth is unpleasant.

Sounds familiar.

The sad part is that it didn't need to be this way. Years ago, I read an article explaining how Vietnam made a miracle recovery after the war, but then its economy got hijacked by South Korean and American multinationals. I wish I knew where the article was, so I could share it.

...and they do, by passive the savings on to the customer and the toxic externalities onto the stakeholder of least resistance, perfectly efficient self regulation

Edit: passing the savings. Im on my cellphine, sprry

Is that an Irving Washington quote, or Washington Irving?

if that's even possible anymore.

It never was. It's nice pretending people have power because they're consumers, but they only have power because they are in larger numbers, and the business depend on them as workers. Striking and rioting has achieved more in the history of our civilization than any boycott ever has.

I mean, if "spending money" really is the most influence over society available to anyone, then why are we in anyway surprised or outraged when corporations and special interests, with vasts amounts of money to spend, completely destroy any and all of our hopes for changing anything? They even control how much money we get in terms of wages, for crying out loud. How is that in any way power to the people?

Clearly this isn't the best, let alone the only, approach.

It's not enough by western standards, but to the government that's a huge fund - in Vietnam pollution isn't as big an issue as it should be and that is partly because there we're not as developed as we want to be, so the desire to trade and to increase funds is higher than that to recycle and be mindful of the environment, so part of this is to blame on companies who ask and or offer money to countries they know will accept it

where do they draw the line and accept their own responsibility in being resourceful in recycling the waste they produce?

Is this not as heinous a crime as murder? Or even worse? This is reprehensible and deserving of death in my opinion. These people have killed so much marine life, present and future. Also all of the people affected by the residual chemical exposure who don’t have access to health care. This is a generational fuck up. Not ok.

Forget about automation. This exact excuse was used to pay people less than minimum wage in Canada by hiring temporary foreign workers.

As fucking if you can't find someone to enter the orders at your Tim Horton's or Subway franchise and you have to import them from Bangladesh.

US used to do it here too, why we have so many superfund sites to clean up.

One of them I think it was an old mining site started leaking a few years ago iirc in Colorado or somewhere sw, poisoning family farms - then no one wanted to buy their stuff because it was grown with toxic water. Horrible downward spiral.

in the US you can protest about anything and everything and nobody will care

Does this look like nobody caring?

This is a super common occurrence. Just look at South America. It's been fucked six ways til Sunday and the entire continent is more or less a hotbed of corruption and poverty because of American foreign policy in the 1900s.

And it's the reason Foxconn wants to move it's factories to Wisconsin.. all that clean clean aquifer water to waste instead of their countries.

I think we need the concept of "blood steel" and a ban of it, like we have blood diamonds. Maybe steel isn't made with wars but certainly the planet is suffering.

Nope. sorry my friend. Vietnam is the perfect mixture of A brave new world and 1984. On one hand you have a group of people who are too brainwashed and blindly followed the party, on the other hand you have a group of dissidents who are too intimidated because they know once they mess with the party, they are going to unleash their wrath on you. And let me tell you something: you would rather be a Jew in Buchenwald than a Vietnamese facing the party.

Then on the other hand we have a younger generation divulging themselves in social vice. Alcohols, weeds, LSD, drugs, prostitutes, gambling, porn... there are so many things they can use to enjoy lives, too many things to keep them away from thinking like some sort of Soma. And they do not want to lose those things. So they just look the other way.

Not worried at all. The Vietnamese gov does not bother about us. After all, they want us to be angry online since they know we cannot to anything. They want us to vent all the angers online so that it will not concentrate and turn into more radical things (as in the case of complete censorship) and then distract us with some thing, like the recent U23 football team. They also want to send us the message that we are nothing more than little pests whose voices are so worthless they don't even bother to screw with us. They want to show us how utterly powerless and hapless we are, that we are dancing to their tunes. But once we step up, they will crush us

"you have the right to free speech— as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it!"

This is terrible, is there anything I can do to help? Any organisations in Vietnam trying to overturn this?

Probably won't be able to breathe after the 8th form

Sure, the ag-gag bills in the United states do the same thing - jail people who film environmental and animal abuses. But dont let that stop you from thinking you're immune!

The sad part is that most people will forget about him...

The politics of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are defined by a single-party socialist republic framework, where the President of Vietnam is the head of state and the Prime Minister of Vietnam is the head of government, in a one-party system led by the Communist Party of Vietnam.


This has happened so many times to people being used and abused. Look up at how the denied forever about the issues with leaded gas and how many people died due to the cause of it.

So many occupational hazards and people complain and companies look to lie long enough to protect themselves. It’s god awful.

I visited South and Central Vietnam in December with my girlfriend who is from Saigon/HCMC. It was strange. The government had an almost untouchable quality about it, to the point I was paranoid that the architecture I just took a picture of was a government building and they were going to come arrest me.

The people I talked to in the south had an almost nihilistic apathy about the way the government was run. The people I met in Vietnam were some of the friendliest salt of the earth type people I've ever met but you could smell the corruption of the government. Or maybe it was the Bún bò Huế

For those of you who don’t know—this was and still is a HUGE deal in Vietnam it affected half the country’s food. It takes a lot to start a protest in Vietnam, any group of 20 or more anywhere public is usually sure to be watched by police and told to split up or get arrested. This incident sparked protests however, because the people complained half the country’s fish supplies were DEAD and the head of Formosa steel (a Taiwanese company) told the Vietnamese “the Vietnamese will have to decide between infrastructure and clean water/fish” and the overwhelming response was to ditch the steel deal but hat didn’t happen. Protests were organized in secret in 2016 & 2017 and sprung up like flash mobs all over the country from just outside a Formosa plants itself in the central region to people in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. I studied abroad there last summer and one of the pieces of art I was gifted as a departing gift was literally a semi-abstract piece of dead fish springing out of business building. This is one of the most important issues still in the country.

US used to do it here too

We might start doing it again! Woo! No one has ever gotten rid of so many government regulations like trump! NO ONE! MAKE THE US DUMP AGAIN!

And even then we could just wish it back with the Dragonballs...

Because it's not nearly the same. That man got 14 years in prison for voicing out his opinion, in the US you can protest about anything and everything and nobody will care.

This is the crux.

Most people don't have time to figure out what company the product they're buying is even owned by, let alone hold the company accountable for not fucking shit up.

Look up any random megacorp online, they'll be guaranteed to have a lengthy "criticism" section (full of stuff like "illegal dumping, lack of worker safety, straight up hiring of mercenaries and murdering protesters, etc") if it hasn't been recently edited by their army of internet astroturfers.

People can be as critical of companies as they want, and they generally are, and those companies will still skirt the line between safe and public outrage to save a buck 100% of the time.

court found him guilty. he went through the legal system...

what else should a normal person do when this is the system?

Or, maybe a fire age.....

Don't forget about the benzene Apple was using that spiked leukemia rates to something like 6000% above normal which was part of the suicide epidemic besides the being overworked conditions.

"For the greater good" _ Grindelwald

All hentai fans know what that means

Same exact thing with H1-B visas here in the States. "We can't find anyone with ten years of experience in this two year old framework. And no one here wants to work slave hours for a pittance, so we need to bring in foreign IT workers!"

"freedom isn't free"

Unfortunately no, as anyone who could help had all fled. For obvious reasons.

Well, not that close to be honest. Most people in Vietnam know about these stories, just reiterating.

As far as I know, there is no way we can make life difficult for these guys. There is no group powerful enough to mobilize the mass, and if any such group start to form the gov will clamp down on them hard. The gov also controls the mafia who would serve as their lackeys when they need to do some "wet work". The best way is frankly, bloodshed. But then again there are millions of cops armed with AKs and an army backing them that swore loyalty to the party before the people.

Dissidents in Vietnam have no help from aboard. Back then we used to depend on the US. But when Obama decided to pivot to Asia, he ditched the human rights priorities in favor of geopolitics by lifting the lethal weapons embargo on Vietnam. Trump took it one step further and ignoring the issues completely. Mattis just came to Vietnam, pledging to send an aircraft carrier to Cam Ranh bay sometimes in the future. Except for the US, not many nations have human rights initiative. Now that they too do not care, chance for Vietnam is worse.

We have mucked up delicate ecosystems and are killing off entire animal species. So, to hell with us, yes, but we are not only killing ourselves.

You're right, but there are things that can be done. I work here on environmental conservation and there are a lot of organisations both large and small also working in the country on issued like this. Many are foreign based, but there are Vietnamese based ones as well. ENV, for example, does good work.

It is a very difficult struggle, and often a losing one, but giving up doesn't help.

I know a lot of Vietnamese folks who do care, but they don't know what to do or how to do it. Many of them are scared to do anything as well, for good reason, but some of them still get out and try to make a change in the ways they can. Look at the protests in Hanoi in 2015 over the cutting down of the old street trees.

Look at the protests over the illegal development in the Son Tra peninsula in Da Nang and the work that organizations like the Douc Langur Foundation are doing there to combat it.

You are right that a very large portion of the population has given up, both in the older and younger generations and that these big corporations like Formosa Plastics, Vincom, Sun Group, and more are the ones that really run the country, but not everyone has given up yet.

it's pretty silly to say that all youth here are brainwashed. and i think it's different if you're in the north, but here in the south i'd say most people hate the government and are pretty open about it on facebook.

This incident killed an entire island of exotic birds off the coast literally overnight. The environmental damage really is beyond compensation.

Thank you

They werent allowed to develop themselves but find themselves sold out and abused to foreign companies and corps for cheap labor. AKA the natural tendency of capitals as it extends over the globe.

This worship of money over health and environment is going to kill us. If we continue down this path, most of us going to die of poison or hypoxia one, aren't we?

Oooo... Sounds metal.

Has nothing to do with democratic freedom. In the US you guys are basically smothering yourself in democratic freedom sauce, but Ag Gag policies and all sorts of corporate malfeasance gets whistelblowers in trouble.

Hell, Obama famously doubled down on fucking them over, and he's the most democratic president you've had in 20 years.

i can read wikipedia too

lets remember that states calling themselves something doesnt materially make them that thing. Vietnamese socialist system is much more in line with the Stalinist regimes of the cold war etc than it is with any of Marx’s writings

No way man bún bò smells way better

These pollution levels are over 9000!

Jail the man trying to expose the people destroying the planet instead of the people destroying the planet. I love the world we live in....

What about the agent orange that US left there til this day killing/mutating millions of citizens

We're killing countless species, but the planet will survive.

Life will go on, it will just be different. A future race will discover our atrocities and they'll be as glad about our demise as we are that we don't have to coexist with dinosaurs.

We did. We did it in 1945, we did it again in 1975. And guess who we brought to power ? These guys. These guys were the revolutionaries that we brought into power, these guys were the people we fought for.

The people hate them to the guts, but what can they do ? They have seen the debacle of Arab spring, and they are afraid of who will come to power after these guys

The plant owner has paid US$500 million in compensation.

Guess the amount of tax credit this company received :/ It's despicable.

You never know. Maybe we'll launch ourselves into another ice age and leave it intact. Do it properly.

"The planet won't kill us"....How terribly naive. The planet has a natural ecosystem. You can push it until it's inhospitable to us but you can't destroy it. Even if we fail to, life will find a way. The governing forces that dictate the flow of that ecosystem on Earth will be here long after we're dead and buried by the oblivion of our arrogance and stupidity.

I literally have no hope for the human race. We will destroy ourselves.

Uhh even expensive brands and products have these same practices. The desire for greed is the biggest source of evil in the world. If companies didn't desire and thus go to great lengths to increase profits such as shown here than we wouldn't have much of many issues. Apple sells products at a premium price point yet engages in the same practices as a cheap Chinese phone maker.

Ah yes, the Libertarian's beloved argument of "benevolent businesses". We have dismissed that claim.

It's not as bad as you think. I live here and complain about the government all the time, online and in real life (on the street) it's just as long as you're not an influencer you should be good. Fuck this corrupt government :P