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

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs