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.
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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
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 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 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.

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs