News / Asia

Human Rights Group Accuses Vietnam of Leading 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)
VOA News
A human rights group said Vietnam has the highest number of political prisoners in Southeast Asia.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) claims at least 212 Vietnamese dissidents are behind bars and 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," said Giorgetta.

Vietnam said 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. 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," said Dinh.

Dinh is suffering from the final stages of stomach cancer while serving a six-year sentence for "anti-state propaganda." He is on a one-year medical parole following international pressure 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 international condemnation.

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. What we're seeing here is a constant ongoing 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," said Dietz.

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

Ranked 174 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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid