2013 has brought no respite to the Vietnamese government’s crackdown on dissent.
2013 has brought no respite to the Vietnamese government’s crackdown on dissent. On January 15th a Vietnamese court sentenced another democracy activist to prison. According to the state-controlled Laborer newspaper, Vo Viet Dzien was accused of working with a pro-democracy group in the United States and sentenced to three years for carrying out “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.”
Vo Viet Dzien’s sentencing follows the January 9th conviction of 14 bloggers, writers, and social activists who are affiliated with churches and an online publication run by the Catholic Redemptorist order. Vietnamese Redemptorist activists have become increasingly vocal in peacefully advocating for democracy and human rights.
Thirteen activists were given prison terms ranging from three to 13 years, and one was given a suspended sentence, after they also were found guilty of “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” and other supposed national security crimes.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing that the United States is “deeply troubled” by reports of the conviction and prison terms for these activists “on charges related to their exercise of their right of free expression.”
“These convictions, along with recent other detentions of a human rights lawyer and other bloggers since December 27th, are part of a very disturbing human rights trend in Vietnam and raise serious questions regarding Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights, and its commitment reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Ms. Nuland said that the United States has “been raising these cases with the government in recent days” and she named a number of the people whose treatment by the Vietnamese government has aroused U.S. concern:
“Blogger Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, blogger Ta Phong and Phan Thanh Hai, in addition to the 14 Catholic Redemptorists.”
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi called on the government of Vietnam “to release these individuals and all other prisoners of conscience immediately.”