The crackdown on human rights in Vietnam continues.
A Vietnamese court recently sentenced human rights activists Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan to prison on charges conducting propaganda activities aimed at harming the state.
Mr. Dai was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by four years of house arrest. Ms. Nhan is also an attorney and has trained Vietnamese students to defend human rights. She was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of house arrest.
Three other activists in Vietnam were recently convicted on charges of conducting anti-state propaganda and given prison terms. Le Nguyen Sang was sentenced to five years, Nguyen Bac Truyen to four years, and Huynh Nguyen Dao to three years.
In a written statement, the U.S. embassy in Vietnam said it was "deeply troubled" by the sentencings. The U.S., the statement said, is "not aware of anything to indicate that these individuals were engaged in activities that conflict with their right to peaceful expression of political thought, widely recognized under international law." The U.S. calls "on the government of Vietnam to release these individuals and allow for the peaceful expression of political views without fear of recrimination."
Father Nguyen Van Ly was also recently sentenced to eight years in prison. Father Ly is a founding member of the pro-democracy movement known as 8-4-0-6 Bloc. There has clearly been an increase in the harassment, detention, and arrest of Vietnamese activists peacefully exercising their right to free speech.
As U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Marine recently wrote, "Vietnam must move to give its citizens greater space to express ideas, organize themselves to address issues of concern, and participate in the pursuit of real accountability, including ultimately the right to select their leaders and representatives."