Vietnam jails musicians over songs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 2:49am

A Vietnamese court jailed two renowned musicians for up to six years for anti-state propaganda, one of their lawyers said, a decision that rights groups branded an outrage.

Viet Khang was given a four-year jail term while Tran Vu Anh Binh, 37 was handed a six-year sentence, lawyer Tran Vu Hai said after a short trial in Ho Chi Minh City.

The court ordered the pair to serve a further two years under house arrest, Hai said, adding that the musicians had admitted links to a banned political group but had "no political intention".

Khang, 34, is known for lyrics that condemn a police crackdown on anti-China activists and touch on social justice issues, while Binh's songs include one that rails against the imprisonment of dissidents.

Hai said the judge turned down a request for the songs to be played in court.

Reports said the two were arrested following a government crackdown on increasingly vociferous anti-China movements, spurred by a row over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

"Jailing songwriters is an outrageous new turn of events," said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia.