Thursday, May 17, 2007
In Vietnam, the crackdown on dissidents continues in advance of elections May 20 for the National Assembly. Five activists were tried in the past week for exercising free speech. All these trials at one time are a clear signal to opponents of the regime to back off quickly. Under Vietnamese law the Communist Party is the only official voice.
Audio for this radio news article available here:
Reporters Without Borders said it was stunned by a five-year jail sentence handed down today to pro-democracy activist Tran Quoc Hien, the sixth such sentence in a week.
The 42-year-old member of the democratic movement “bloc 8406” and spokesman for the United Workers-Farmers Organization (UWFO) was sentenced for “spreading anti-government propaganda” online and “endangering state security”, at the end of a four-hour trial. He had been arrested in January 2007.
Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage at the prison sentences which a Hanoi people’s court imposed today on two human rights lawyers and cyber-dissidents at end of a trial lasting only four hours. Convicted of "defamation" and "propaganda against the regime" under article 88 of the criminal code, Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to five years and Le Thi Cong got four.
Yet another politically motivated trial in Viet Nam has turned citizens who have only peacefully expressed opinions into prisoners of conscience. Today, three leading members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were sentenced to prison terms of between three and five years in what the prosecutor in the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court described as a warning to other “hostile forces.”