March 30, 2007
In a sham legal proceeding today, the Vietnamese communist authorities sentenced five democracy activists to prison for their peaceful political activities. Father Nguyen Van Ly was sentenced to eight years in prison. Co-defendants Nguyen Phong, Nguyen Binh Thanh, Le Thi Le Hang, and Hoang Thi Anh Dao received jail sentences between one-and-a-half to six years.
Without the presence of a defense lawyer, with the sentences already decided before the trial, these five dissidents join countless other political prisoners inside Vietnam for simply exercising rights enshrined in international covenants to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a signatory.
The Hanoi government has demonstrated once again why communist Vietnam is a “country of particular concern.” After putting on a civilized face to the international community last year to join the WTO, host APEC, and receive PNTR status, the regime has launched a severe crackdown.
In recent weeks, human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan, and Le Quoc Quan have been detained and threatened with long prison sentences. Many other activists, some renown and others less known, have also been rounded up.
Now, more than ever, the international community should stand with the Vietnamese people by protesting the human rights abuses by authorities and supporting the peaceful calls for political freedom by brave citizens.