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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs