News / Asia

    Vietnam Sentences 22 for Subversion

    Marianne Brown
    Less than a week after a rights group accused Hanoi officials of increasing a systematic crackdown on government critics, a court in Vietnam’s Phu Yen province on Monday sentenced 22 people to prison for trying to overthrow the government.
     
    All who faced the week-long trial were members of Hoi dong công án Bia Son, an illegal Buddhist organization that operates in central Vietnam. The group's name, which translates as Bia Son Council for Laws and Affairs, is taken from Bia Son mountain, a landmark in the province.
     
    The 21 men and one woman were accused of plotting to set up a new state called Great Vietnam Kingdom, under which the group’s leader, Phan Van Thu, would be king. Thu was sentenced to life in prison and others received sentences between 10 and 17 years.
     
    State-run media say the organization produced documents distorting policies of the communist party and the state. State sources say the group prepared a new national anthem, flag and capital city before the arrest of Thu and several others in February 2012.
     
    "Because the group admitted Thu was to be king and other members were to be appointed ministers in the new state, their motives were very clear," said Nguyen Hong Que, one of six lawyers to defend the group. "The only thing the lawyers could do was ask the judge to reduce their sentences."
     
    In its World Report 2013, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says at least 40 activists were given prison terms in Vietnam last year. The rights groups say that number indicates increased repression to keep rising dissent in check.
     
    This year's tally is rising fast:  13 activists were sentenced to between three and 13 years in prison last month alone.
     
    HRW Asia director Phil Robertson says the government is going after critics with a potentially large audience.
     
    “So the Catholic church, the Redemptionists, you see going after a big group — the Phu Yen group who are claimed to be fomenting some kind of undesirable ideology," he said. "People who are transmission belts, who, through their blogs, speak to a much larger number of people.”
     
    Human rights activist Nguyen Quoc Quan after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Vietnam, Jan. 30, 2013.Human rights activist Nguyen Quoc Quan after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Vietnam, Jan. 30, 2013.
    x
    Human rights activist Nguyen Quoc Quan after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Vietnam, Jan. 30, 2013.
    Human rights activist Nguyen Quoc Quan after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Vietnam, Jan. 30, 2013.
    In a move that surprised some, the Vietnamese government last Wednesday deported U.S. citizen Nguyen Quoc Quan after nine months of detention. Quan was arrested entering Saigon airport and initially accused of acts of terrorism, but this was later changed to subversion charges.
     
    A leading member of political group Viet Tan, which the government describes as a terrorist organization, Quan was jailed for six months in 2007 for handing out pro-democracy leaflets. His detention drew protests from U.S. diplomats, lawmakers and pro-democracy groups.
     
    Speaking from his home in California, Quan said he traveled to Vietnam in April of last year to teach young people leadership skills, despite knowing there was a good chance he would be arrested. He took the risk, he said, because he knew detention would give him the opportunity to show solidarity with other rights activists.
     
    "There are two reasons the Vietnamese government deported [me]," he said. "First, the government was afraid bringing [me] to trial would cause them problems and, second, because of pressure from the United States."
     
    The fact he was released ahead of the others because of his U.S. passport shows the hypocrisy of the Vietnamese government, he said.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: KILLER001 from: CHINA
    February 05, 2013 9:49 AM
    the us and the un should critics the Vietnam gov,and send the support to the 22 democrats, just like support the chinese dissidents

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.