News / Asia

    Vietnamese Dissident Arrives in US after Early Release from Prison

    Cu Huy Ha Vu (C) stands between policemen in the dock during his trial at a court in Hanoi, August 21, 2011.
    Cu Huy Ha Vu (C) stands between policemen in the dock during his trial at a court in Hanoi, August 21, 2011.
    Marianne Brown
    One of Vietnam’s best known dissidents, a rights lawyer and son of a revolutionary poet, has been released early from prison. Afterwards, he traveled to the United States.
     
    Lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu, 56, is one of Vietnam’s most famous dissidents. He had served three years of a seven-year prison sentence before he was suddenly released.
     
    A spokesman from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said Vu and his wife arrived in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
     
    Although the timing and details of his release were not immediately clear, Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia division, said Vu’s family had been negotiating for his freedom for some time.
     
    Vu had reportedly held a hunger strike over poor conditions in prison and suffers from a heart condition.
     
    “My understanding was that this is something that was being discussed for quite some time. I gather his health situation in the prison was quite bad and so the family decided that they would accept the release as long as he left the country,” said Robertson.
     
    Vu was jailed in April 2011 on charges of spreading “propaganda against the state” under Article 88 of the penal code.
     
    The rights lawyer gained notoriety in 2009 when he tried to sue Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung over Chinese-run bauxite mines in the Central Highlands.
     
    He was charged with calling for the dissolution of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party, advocating a multi-party political system, and characterizing the Vietnam War as a civil war.
     
    Vu is the son of Cu Huy Can, a poet and a minister under the provisional government of modern Vietnam’s founding father Ho Chi Minh. He attracted a diverse group of supporters, including Catholics, academics, and high-ranking members of the Communist Party.
     
    An activist and economist, Nguyen Quang A, said he thinks that by releasing Vu on the condition that he remains in the United States, the Vietnamese government is trying to “keep face” [maintain respect]. He said there was pressure from both inside and outside Vietnam, from Vietnamese civil society and the U.S. government.
     
    Vu’s release comes days after democracy activist and blogger Dinh Danh Dinh died of stomach cancer at his home after he was released early from prison. He was jailed for six years in 2012 on a charge of anti-government propaganda under Article 88 of the penal code.
     
    Robertson said he does not believe the treatment of the two dissidents was a sign that Hanoi was changing its hardline attitude toward government critics.
     
    “Dinh Danh Dinh - he didn’t receive the necessary treatment and assistance he needed while he was in prison. You look at the before and after photographs, what he looked like before he went into prison and what he looked like when he came out, it’s night and day,” said Robertson.
     
    Human Rights Watch said 61 Vietnamese dissidents and activists were convicted and sentenced to prison in 2013, compared to about 40 such convictions a year earlier.
     
    On the day Vu’s release was announced, Le Quoc Quyet, younger brother of blogger Le Quoc Quan, who is currently serving a 30-month prison sentence for tax evasion, said on his Facebook page: “I hope this news is true and hope soon I will hear the same about my brother."

    You May Like

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora