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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs