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The crackdown on political dissent continues in Vietnam with the conviction of four democracy activists on charges of subversion against the state. Respected attorney Le Cong Dinh, democracy activist Nguyen Tien Trung, and bloggers Tran Huynh, Duy Thuc, and Le Thang Long received prison sentences ranging from 5 to 16 years. The alleged activities on which the charges were based included promoting a multiparty Vietnamese state and working with exile groups, efforts that prosecutors said were aimed at overthrowing "the people's administration."
The convictions of these 4 are the latest in a series of highly publicized trials. In the last 3 months alone 10 other activists have been jailed. Though a one-party state, Vietnam has over the last decade allowed greater public discussion of political issues and eased restrictions on religious worship. That easing unfortunately now appears to be wavering, accompanied by tighter limits on the press and the Internet.
The United States is deeply troubled by the January 20 convictions and the apparent lack of due process in the conduct of the trial. The convictions run counter to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the expression of rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled, and which, as a member of the United Nations, Vietnam is expected to observe. These convictions also raise serious questions about Vietnam's commitment to rule of law and reform.
The United States urges the government of Vietnam to release these individuals and other prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally. The United States also condemns the harassment, detention, and prosecution of any person based on the peaceful expression of his or her views, political or otherwise.