News / Asia

Rights Group: Vietnam Leads SE Asia in Political Prisoners

Vietnamese environmental activist Dinh Dang Dinh is on medical parole while suffering from final stages of stomach cancer. (Courtesy: Dinh Family)
Vietnamese environmental activist Dinh Dang Dinh is on medical parole while suffering from final stages of stomach cancer. (Courtesy: Dinh Family)
A human rights group says Vietnam has the highest number of political prisoners in Southeast Asia,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) says at least 212 Vietnamese dissidents are behind bars are many more are under house arrest.

FIDH says those imprisoned include lawyers, bloggers and land rights activists.

Asia Desk Director Andrea Giorgetta told VOA's Vietnamese service that it is time for the international community to pressure Hanoi to stop its repression of peaceful dissent.  

“It’s shameful that a country like Vietnam, a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, at the moment holds the highest number of political prisoners in Southeast Asia,” she said.

Vietnam says there are no political prisoners or prisoners of conscience in the country, only those who violate the law.

Meanwhile, prominent environmental activist Dinh Dang Dinh says international community and rights groups should go to Vietnam to witness the real human rights picture in the country, where he says detainees are subject to ill-treatment and lack of essential medical care.

“Jail conditions in Vietnam are extremely harsh. Medical care and nutrition for prisoners are very limited," Dinh said. "Via this interview with VOA, I’d like the outside world to know that we, especially prisoners, in Vietnam don’t have human rights. The authorities are torturing us by not providing enough food nor medical care. Although Hanoi just signed on U.N. Convention Against Torture, in reality, human rights in Vietnam have yet to be protected and it’s unsure when they will be protected. U.N. human rights watchdogs and NGOs need to visit jails in Vietnam to witness the truth."

Dinh is suffering from final stages of stomach cancer while serving a six-year sentence for “anti-state propaganda.”  He is on a one-year medical parole after international pressure poured in urging Vietnam to release him on humanitarian grounds.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is a non-governmental federation for human rights organizations. Founded in 1922, FIDH is the oldest international human rights organization worldwide and today brings together 178 member organizations in over 100 countries.

Earlier this week, Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat was given a two-year prison sentence, sparking outrage among human rights groups and condemnation from western nations.

Nhat, who has been held since May 2013, was sentenced on a charge of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state and on the legitimate rights and interests or organizations and citizens” under article 258 of the penal code after posting articles on his personal blog criticizing the government and raising concern over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, told VOA the conviction shows the measures Vietnam's leaders are willing to take to stop criticism of their rule.  

“Once again we’re pressing the government, trying to reverse its policies that are really stifling anything that’s critical of the communist party or the government itself," said Dietz. "What we’re seeing here is a constant on-going trend in which anyone who really uses the Internet to criticize the government is being slammed with penalties…The problem is it has been a long-term trend and it seems to be accelerating actually.”

According to CPJ, Vietnam is the fifth worst jailer of journalists in the world, with 18 reporters and bloggers behind bars.

Ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Vietnam is the world’s second biggest prison for bloggers and netizens, after China.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs