Archive for the ‘house arrest’ Category

Famous Vietnamese dissident dies

February 9, 2008
By Nga Pham
BBC News, Hanoi

One of Vietnam’s best-known dissidents, Hoang Minh Chinh, has died at the age of 85 after a long illness.

Hoang Minh Chinh

Chinh was one of the last of the older generation of activists

His family said he passed away peacefully on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

Hoang Minh Chinh was once a leading figure in the ruling Communist Party, holding several senior positions.

But he became disillusioned with the communist ideology, and began calling for more democracy. He spent many years in jail and under house arrest.

Ideologist

Born in 1922 in Nam Ha province, he joined the revolution in 1937.

He held a number of high positions in the Vietnamese government, including vice-minister of education, vice-director of the Nguyen Ai Quoc Communist Party School and director of the Marxist-Leninist Philosophy Institute.

He was considered one of the great ideologists of the regime until the 1960s, when he began criticising some of the ruling party’s decisions.

He was jailed for being a member of the so-called “anti-party revisionist campaign”.

During the last decade of his life, Mr Chinh was actively involved in the democratic movement in Vietnam, and restarted the Vietnam Democratic Party two years ago.

In 2005, in an unprecedented move, the Vietnamese government allowed him to go to the United States to receive treatment for pancreatic cancer.

During the trip, he appeared before a congressional committee to speak about the situation inside Vietnam, and called for greater pressure on the Vietnamese government.

The speech prompted an aggressive campaign against him in the Vietnamese media, but Mr Chinh was still allowed back into the country.

In 2006 he took part in the establishment of the largest democratic campaign to date, Bloc 8406.

But his past attachment to the communist ideology somewhat alienated him from the younger generation of activists, who wanted a clean break from the past.

Mr Chinh’s health worsened last year.

He was suffering from numerous illnesses and was in and out of hospital for most of the year.

Secretary Negroponte: Secure The Release of At Least One Jailed In Vietnam

January 13, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 13, 2008

In the endless, general discussions of international diplomacy, sometimes, it seems, absolutely nothing is accomplished.

For that reason, we urge U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who travels to Vietnam this week, to make a commitment to free Le Thi Cong Nhan, a young Ho Chi Minh City attorney in a communist Vietnam jail.

Le Thi Cong Nhan in court in Hanoi on 11 May 2007

Ms Nhan is one of the latest activists to be sent to prison bt communist Vietnam.
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In early November, 2006, just before President George W. Bush and other heads of state from around the globe assembled in Hanoi for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC), Ms Nhan’s apartment was surrounded by communist Vietnam police. Her phones and internet were cut off. She was told she was not allowed to leave her home.

Ms Nhan, she was told, had spoken out against human rights abuses in Vietnam, one crime; and then she used the internet to spread her views, her second crime in Vietnam.

The BBC reported on 16 November 2006, “The move seems to be part of a general attempt to prevent anyone from disrupting the summit.”
Nguyễn Minh Triết and First Lady Trần Thị Kim Chi meet with George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the President's Palace, November 2006.

Nguyễn Minh Triết and First Lady Trần Thị Kim Chi meet with George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the President’s Palace, Hanoi, November 2006, during the APEC summit.
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The BBC also reported, “Miss Cong Nhan’s mother was told by police that her daughter cannot leave her apartment or talk to foreigners until … after the Apec summit has finished.”

Another factor in Ms Nhan house arrest may have been this: she was scheduled to defend a British woman of Vietnamese origin potentially facing the death penalty for drug smuggling.

Despite communist Vietnam’s verbal assurances that it stands for a free and fair judicial system, defense attorneys who take positions contrary to the state’s are often in for at least ridicule and often harassed or imprisoned.

Soon after Vietnam was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO), on 6 March, 2007, Ms Nhan was arrested and accused of collaborating with overseas pro-democracy advocates and using the internet to spread her views.

On May 10, Ms. Nhan was tried and found guilty of “spreading propaganda intended to undermine Vietnam’s Communist government.”

About a month later the President of Vietnam, Nguyễn Minh Triết, visited with President Bush in the White House.

At their White House meeting on June 22, 2007, President Bush told Mr. Triết , “In order for relations to grow deeper, it’s important for our friends to have a strong commitment to human rights and freedom and democracy.”

Mr. Triết has shown little or no inkling of a reaction to the President of the United States’ urgings.

Left, Presidents Triết and Bush in the White House.
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Ms Nhan was sentenced to four years in prison by the Hanoi People’s Court.  She was also ordered to serve several years’ house arrest after the completion of her prison sentence.

So, we ask Mr. Negroponte, as the second most senior full-time U.S. diplomat, to commit to seek the immediate freedom of Ms Nhan.  She is a political prisoner among many others. 

If the communist government of Vietnam is serious about its pledges made before and during the APEC summit in 2006, if communist Vietnam is serious about honoring the pledges it made to gain entry into the WTO and if President Triết is serious about his pledges to President Bush when the two met in Washington D.C. in June, 2007, then the release of Ms Nhan would be a delightful, if symbolic, signal that Vietnam truly intends to become a member of the civilized community of nations.

Just today, January 13, 2008, the President of the United States said during his address in Abu Dhabi, “You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government.”

The president continued, “And you cannot stand up a modern, confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms.”

Words mean nothing unless Vietnam and the United States act upon their words — and their beliefs.

Related:

Vietnam Striving to be Good WTO Participant

China, Vietnam: Global Issues

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