Vietnam’s Communist authorities are “is systematically suppressing freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and persecuting those who question government policies, expose official corruption, or call for democratic alternatives to one-party rule,” according to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2013:
In 2012, authorities arbitrarily arrested activists, held them incommunicado for long periods without access to legal counsel or family visits, subjected them to torture, and prosecuted them in politically controlled courts that meted out long prison sentences for violating vaguely worded national security laws or other criminal provisions.
Indicative of the rising repression to deal with the increasing dissent were a series of trials throughout 2012 that jailed people for exercise of their basic rights, as described in the Human Rights WatchWorld Report. For example, in March, dissident Protestant Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh was sentenced to 11 years in prison on a charge of “undermining national unity.” Rights activists Ho Thi Hue and Nguyen Bich Thuy received two years each for participating in protests against land confiscation in Tay Ninh province.
“The human rights situation in Vietnam took a another step backwards in 2012, with the authorities pursuing harsh policies in defiance of growing domestic expressions of political, social, and economic dissatisfaction,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“At a time when its ASEAN colleague Burma is undergoing significant change, the Vietnamese government stands out for its retrograde policies, persecuting activists, and holding back the country’s development.”
The report describes the December 27 arrest of Hanoi-based human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan (above) as “another major blow to human rights.” Quan has been jailed on politically motivated charges of tax evasion, after criticizing the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.
Quan was previously arrested in 2007 for three months on his return from a five-month Reagan-Fascell fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.