Morning Chronicle - Vietnam arrests green activist on tax charges

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Vietnam arrests green activist on tax charges
Vietnam arrests green activist on tax charges

Vietnam arrests green activist on tax charges

Vietnam on Wednesday arrested a high-profile environmentalist known for taking on the energy industry on suspicion of tax evasion, state media said.

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Nguy Thi Khanh, 46, has been one of the few voices in Vietnam prepared to challenge plans to increase coal power to fuel economic development.

Her organisation GreenID, Vietnam's best-known environmental NGO, convinced the government to reduce some of its coal targets and sparked a national conversation about rising air and water pollution.

But while she has won international plaudits, she has also been the target of smear campaigns on state-sponsored media sites and is routinely attacked by trolls on Facebook who criticise her work.

The state-owned Tuoi Tre newspaper on Wednesday said Khanh had been arrested by police in the capital Hanoi "on a tax evasion accusation". No further details were given.

Communist Vietnam tolerates no dissent, and numerous activists have wound up in jail for speaking out against the government.

Authorities have recently stepped up raids on corrupt officials as well as people involved in financial or economic scandals.

Khanh's organisation has been successful in persuading the government to strip 20,000 megawatts of coal power from the national energy plan by 2030.

Her goal for the coming years is for Vietnam to scale back its ambitious coal plans in favour of more renewable energy options.

In a 2020 interview with AFP, she acknowledged the risks her activism brought.

"When we got global recognition, vested interest groups recognised who their enemy is, and they are very powerful," she said.