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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.