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The Formosa environmental disaster VIETNAM

2016

April 4-6: The environmental disaster occurs

An underground pipe near the Formosa steel mill (a Taiwanese enterprise) started spewing dark yellow water.
Masses of dead fish began to wash ashore on beaches in the Ha Tinh province.

April 24-27: Denying responsibility

Formosa refuses to take responsibility for the disaster.
The government argues that the causes of the environmental disaster could have been natural.

April - May: human rights at stake

Health: Formosa workers are hospitalized after diving near the mill, and one of them dies.
Work: Fishermen and people working on tourism lose their income and jobs.
Cultural identity: The culture of the people in Ha Tinh province is linked to their environment.

April 28 - May 1: The civil society protests

First protest in Quang Binh marked the beginning of multiple marches and protests in which thousands of people in Vietnam called for a clean environment, government transparency and the disengagement of Formosa.
Bigger demonstrations take place in Hanoi and Saigon on May 1st.
May 4: The government takes action ? After the Ministry of Environment apologized for confusion and mishandling, 7 ministries started to investigate Formosa Co. Ltd. However, the government still denies its responsibility in the fish deaths.

May - June: Ongoing violations of human rights.

The UN shows concern regarding human rights violations. People denounce violations to their right to: Freedom of expression / Adequate compensation and legal remedies / Freedom of association / Access to independent judges and courts

June 30: Formosa admits responsibility

Formosa admits responsibility in the wrongful discharge of toxic chemicals in the ocean. It offered $500 million USD in compensation.
The government received the payments but the victims have not received their compensation.

July - September: The legal battle

The Committee for Justice and Peace, catholic priests, and parishioners from Vinh Diocese Working Group (VDWG), submitted petitions to state agents. These are not answered.
Hundreds of affected individuals issue lawsuits against Formosa, demanding to clean the environment and compensate the victims. Local courts refuse to admit the lawsuits.

September - December: The defense of human rights

Hundreds of people protest in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh, demanding a prosecution against Formosa and adequate compensation.
VDWG meet with Taiwanese elected representatives to express the victims´ suggestion.

2017: Human Rights Defenders at Risk

Hundreds of people continue to march, protest, and file lawsuits against Formosa. Reverend Nguyen Dinh Thuc, a leader of one of the marches, was physically attacked. Individuals denouncing lack of transparency by the government have been criminalized.

On May 10, 2017, the VINH Diocese Working Group presented a petition, signed by thousands of people around the world, to various international organizations, INGOs and European States in Geneva.

Credits:

1. Ben Brophy; dead fish; August 22, 2009; (CC BY 2.0). 2. Darla Hueske; small fish washed ashore; December 24, 2009; (CC BY-ND 2.0). 3. Gin The Wanderer; IMG_9987; September 4, 2014; (CC BY 2.0). 4. David Bacon; Vietnam; December 5, 2008; (CC BY 2.0). 5. RedCheese; Street market; May 26, 2018; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 6. United Nations Photo; Urban view: traffic in Hanoi; June 29, 2011; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 7. United Nations Photo; Woman makes biomass briguettes in Hanoi; June 29, 2011; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).