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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid