Jürgen Biehle : In Vietnam, the communist authorities hush up all kind of opposition. The dissident Tran Anh Kim has been sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison. His only crime was to campaign for democracy. Other activists for human rights have also been brought to court. Accused of subversion, they risk much heavier sentences. More details with Marina Mekaoui.
Marina Mekaoui : The pro-democracy activist Tran Anh Kim had a close call as this former officer risked the death penalty. He was finally sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison thanks to his military past. Tran Anh Kim is accused of subversion against the communist regime. He is accused in particular of having spread false information on the socio-economic situation of Vietnam, a country where human rights organizations have noticed increased repression towards the dissidents that are being more and more heavily sentenced.
Michel Tran Duc : Since February 2007, more than thirty Vietnamese dissidents have been sent to prison, sentenced to up to eight years simply because they used their right of speech and called for democracy in Vietnam.
Marina Mekaoui : Inflation, corruption, criticism has multiplied over the Internet within the last few months. Hanoi has also been criticized for its lack of decisiveness in its relations with Beijing. With the upcoming Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party, the regime’s tenseness is clearly felt.
Michel Tran Duc : In 2010, we will be close to the date of the Vietnamese Communist Party Congress, where the power struggles of the various factions are usually played out. The rather conservative, pro-Chinese faction is seeking to retain absolute power by all means. Another faction, somewhat more liberal, is trying to find a way out of the communist ideology, which no longer interests anyone in Vietnam today.
Marina Mekaoui : Four other activists risk similar sentences, among which are a famous lawyer and a computer specialist blogger. Their trial planned next month will be highly followed by the Vietnamese, but also by the international community.