News / Asia

Vietnam's Sentencing of Activists Sparks Criticism

Daniel Schearf
A court in Vietnam sentenced 14 activists to harsh prison terms of up to 13 years for attempting to overthrow the Communist party-led government.  The trial was one of the largest for alleged subversion and a U.S.-based legal authority helping the accused tells says it was grossly unfair

In a trial lasting only two days, the court in central Vietnam Wednesday found the 14 activists guilty of subversion and sentenced them to between three and 13 years in prison. One activist received probation.

They were arrested in 2011 and charged with spreading anti-government propaganda and attempting to overthrow the government.

The group of bloggers and students were accused of being members of Viet Tan, a U.S.-based pro-democracy group that Hanoi labels a terrorist organization.

The defendants are mainly Catholics, an often-persecuted group under the ruling atheist Communist party and some were involved in anti-China demonstrations about disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Some also were among a group of 17 detained activists who in July appealed to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Allen Weiner is director of Stanford Law School's Program in International and Comparative Law.  He helped file the petition to the United Nations and says Vietnam's legal procedures failed to give due process or anything close to a fair trial.

"These individuals were in prison for about a year before they were even notified of the charges against them, in clear violation of international standards and also in violation of Vietnam's own law," he says.

The trial opened Tuesday in northern Vietnam, but received little attention by the government-controlled media.

Authorities have allowed several rare public protests against China for recent aggressive moves on South China Sea territories that Vietnam disputes.

But rights groups say Hanoi fears the demonstrations, amid economic troubles and high-profile cases of official corruption, could turn against the state.  

Weiner says Vietnam's rapid development has created demand for more democratic representation that the Communist party sees as a threat.

"I would have to say, if there was any single precipitating cause it has to be the kind of events that have happened in the Middle East or the protests that have happened in Russia," Weiner says. "We've seen similar kinds of redoubling of controls on social and political activity in China.  I think we've seeing the same thing here in Vietnam."

Rights groups say Vietnam's crackdown on dissent is accelerating and starting to affect relations with Western nations.  The United States cancelled an annual human rights dialogue with Vietnam last year for the apparent reversal of progress.

Weiner says although he hopes Vietnam will make a political calculation to end the crackdown, its behavior is demonstrating otherwise.

"I think it's very very important for countries in the region to make sure that Vietnam does not get the benefit of full engagement with the Western trading system, if it continues to behave in a manner that violates the international legal norms that Vietnam, itself, has accepted and that are so widely embraced around the world," he says.

Vietnam in September sentenced three bloggers to between four and 12 years in prison for spreading propaganda against the state.  Their trial lasted just a few hours and was criticized by the United Nations human rights chief.  

The U.S. State Department called those sentences deeply troubling.

Wednesday, he U.S. Embassy in Hanoi called for Vietnam to immediately release the activists and all prisoners of conscience.  

In a statement, the embassy says treatment for the convicted was inconsistent with Vietnam’s obligations under international and human rights laws.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
January 09, 2013 11:03 PM
LOL. poor Vietnam, it doesnt has any real allies. Why dont just keep the mouth shut. If China beats Vietnam up, no other country really want to help it.

In Response

by: remie from: canada
January 11, 2013 7:07 AM
@jonathan huang
I dont know why you talk like China is so tough, your population is 1.4 billion to 100 million but still china doesnt own Vietnam. Vietnam has defend its country from greedy China for centuries. Chinese are such good warriors but yet I see none in any combat sport,WHY? HAHAHA Also why does your"ancient " time history fabricate that Vietnam is party of China? And your brainwash population believes it.
HAHAHA





In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
January 10, 2013 6:54 AM
To Jonathan Huang,
You must be talking about China.
Go back to China and prepare to fight for your motherland against the world who hates China. Even North Korea hates Chinamen.
Down with China! down, down, down.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid