News / Asia

Vietnam Jails Prominent Rights Activist

File - Bui Thi Minh Hang (R), during an anti-China protest in downtown Hanoi on July 24, 2011.
File - Bui Thi Minh Hang (R), during an anti-China protest in downtown Hanoi on July 24, 2011.
Marianne Brown

A prominent rights activist in Vietnam was sentenced to three years in jail Tuesday.

Bui Thi Minh Hang is a well-known human rights activist who uses Facebook to draw attention to issues from land rights to religious and political freedom.

After a day-long trial, she was jailed for three years for disrupting public order by creating “serious obstruction to traffic.”

Two other activists also received jail time. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Hoa Hao Buddhist Nguyen Van Minh were each sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

The three were among 21 people arrested in February as they rode motorbikes from Ho Chi Minh City to Dong Thap province to visit a former political prisoner.  The others in the group were released the next day.

Deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said he believes the other activists were targeted to divert attention from Hang.

"At the end of the day, they have clearly decided that she is someone they need to go after," Robertson said. "I would speculate that perhaps these other persons being detained along with her are essentially persons to allow authorities to assert that they are not just going after her, but they are going after other people as well."

Several Hang supporters who travelled to attend the trial at Dong Thap Provincial People’s Court in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta were detained Tuesday.  

Le Hoang, who traveled from Hanoi, was being held at the local police station. He said while he and a group of people stood on the pavement, a police bus arrived to take them to the station. He said about 30 people were detained, some in Ho Chi Minh City, and some at guest houses.

At least 63 people were imprisoned for peaceful political expression in Vietnam in 2013, according to Human Rights Watch. The government says only those who break the law have been jailed, not people who peacefully express their views.

Robertson views the charges of obstructing traffic against Hang as an attempt to duck international criticism.

"These are charges which the authorities brought to try and, I think, diminish international condemnation of these charges," he said. "It becomes easier to say public disorder was the issue there, rather than say using democratic freedoms violate the interests of the state."

The U.S. Embassy expressed deep concern about the sentencing, and called the use of public disorder laws to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views “alarming”.

The statement said, “This conviction appears to be inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression and Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and commitments reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”    

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: LiveFree from: US
August 26, 2014 2:28 PM
When will VN communist government be going to end this kind of thuggery practice against her own people? Communist = State-sponsored Terrorist

by: meanbill from: USA
August 26, 2014 1:35 PM
I DO BELIEVE.... That one of the agreements the US signed in Paris, on the 1973 Paris Peace Accord Agreement to end the Vietnam War, was that the US would never ever again take any type of military action in all of Southeast Asia, so I guess the US disapproval means nothing?...... or sanctions?.... or red lines?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More