News / Asia

Rights Groups Press for Release of Leading Vietnam Dissident

A U.S-trained lawyer and well-known dissident Le Quoc Quan (r) listens to the judge during his trial in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 2, 2013.
A U.S-trained lawyer and well-known dissident Le Quoc Quan (r) listens to the judge during his trial in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 2, 2013.
A coalition of human rights organizations have issued an open letter calling for the release of prominent Vietnamese blogger, lawyer and human rights activist, Le Quoc Quan.

In an interview with VOA's Vietnamese service, Benjamin Ismail, the head of the Asia-Pacific Desk at Reporters Without Borders, said his organization together with 11 other international rights groups petitioned for Quan’s acquittal based on International Human Rights standards, and the Rule of Law.

"Le Quoc Quan is a special case because he is not only a blogger and a citizen jailed for using his fundamental and basic rights. But he is also a lawyer.  Someone who knows the law," he said. "And if lawyers can see their own rights denied by the regime, it means the rest of the population is even more vulnerable to human rights violations."

Ismail expressed the decision on Quan’s appeal would signal to the international community whether Vietnam respects international human rights law, especially significant in Vietnam’s role as a recently elected member to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The 12 NGO signatories of the letter calling for Quan's release are the Media Legal Defence Initiative, Media Defence-Southeast Asia, Lawyers for Lawyers, Avocats Sans Frontières, Front Line Defenders, Access, English PEN, Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ARTICLE 19, Index on Censorship and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.

Quan’s brother, Le Quoc Quyet told VOA's Vietnamese Service that his brother has filed a complaint against Judge Le Thi Hop, who sentenced him in October to 30 months in prison for tax evasion.

"Quan said it was against the law when the judge saw no sign of law violations but still convicted him.  Secondly, the judge did not convene all the witnesses.  Thirdly, the examiners involved in the investigation process did not have certified licenses," he said. "Moreover, the judge ignored all the evidence provided by Quan’s defense lawyers at the initial trial."

The call for Quan's release comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is preparing to visit Vietnam this week for talks on trade and other bilateral issues.

But a bipartisan group of 47 U.S. Congressmen are sent a letter to Kerry this week calling on him to to tell Vietnam's leaders that trade agreements will only follow human rights improvements by the government in Hanoi.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez says Vietnam has unfairly imprisoned activists like Quan.

"We believe there needs to be a change. That overall, Vietnam's human rights record remains very poor. And that, in particular in the last few years, they have tightened controls on freedom of expression and freedom of association, freedom of assembly," she said. "They have got new decrees out which have prohibited peaceful protests, limited speech on the Internet. We need to see that stop."

Kerry is expected to arrive in Vietnam later this week with a stop in Ho Chi Minh City, followed by a visit to Hanoi.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese Service

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs