News / Asia

Jailed War Veteran's Death in Vietnam Draws Condemnation

Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly - who remains in prison, but is ill - sits in his room inside the Hue Archdiocese in Hue city, March 2010. (file photo)
Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly - who remains in prison, but is ill - sits in his room inside the Hue Archdiocese in Hue city, March 2010. (file photo)
Marianne Brown

The prison death of a former soldier who fought for the South during the Vietnam War has sparked concern among international observers in Vietnam.

In a prison hospital on the outskirts of Hanoi, war veteran and political prisoner Truong Van Suong died only 25 days after returning from a year-long medical parole.

The former soldier, who fought for the former Republic of Vietnam, suffered from severe heart disease and high blood pressure. He was 68.

Human Rights Watch spokesman Phil Robertson condemned Vietnamese authorities for sending Suong back to jail.

"It's frankly cruel and inhuman to send a man that sick back to detention. I think it was because the Ministry of Public Security wanted to make an example of him," said Robertson.

Suong spent nearly half of his life, more than three decades, behind bars. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, he was sent to a re-education camp for six years. Robertson said the length of time is significant.

"The fact that he was held from '75 to '81 indicated that he was someone of significant concern for the incoming government. There was systematic discrimination against former army and officials of the government of the former South Vietnam," he said. "There was an assessment of who needed to be in re-education for longer and shorter periods.

Following his release in 1981, Suong fled to Thailand where he joined The United Front of Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Vietnam. The group, now disbanded, tried to enter the country 10 times in three years. More than 20 members were arrested.

Suong was detained when he tried to land on the South coast in 1983. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. In a statement released to the Associated Press, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs insisted Suong's health was stable when he was sent back to prison.

Nguyen Minh Thuyet, a former deputy in Vietnam's National Assembly, said generally speaking, prisoners who are seriously ill should be allowed to die at home. He says this is in line with Vietnamese customs and would help both the prisoners and their families.

Thuyet agrees that soldiers who fought for the regime in Saigon were unfairly treated after the war ended in 1975. He said those from revolutionary backgrounds, like workers or soldiers, would get better treatment than people from the city or members of the lower middle class.

He says bad treatment of soldiers who fought for the South or former government officials was a limitation of the period, adding now there is no discrimination against people or families who took part in the Southern government.

Suong is the second political prisoner to die in jail in recent months. On July 11, Nguyen Van Trai died in Southeast Vietnam after serving nearly 15 years for what the government called 'fleeing abroad in opposition to the people's administration". He was 74 and suffered from liver cancer. He died just five months before his term was up.

Robertson said political prisoners with serious health problems should be put at the front of the line for immediate and unconditional release.

He points to the case of human rights defender Father Nguyen Van Ly, who was sent back to jail after a year-long medical parole in July. The elderly priest suffered two strokes leaving him partially paralyzed.  

"I don't know why the Ministry of Public Security are so paranoid about people exercising their right to freedom of expression," said Robertson. "It reflects, in my view, a level of insecurity within the Ministry of Public Security, about their hold on Vietnamese society that they view that even aged, severely sick men can somehow be a spark to cause unrest or discontent."

International observers are keeping a close eye on the health of Father Ly.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid