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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid