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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs