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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid