Repression in Vietnam

It’s not too often that you read or hear about repression and restrictions on free speech in Vietnam, it’s somewhat overshadowed by neighbours like Burma and China, where stories like these are reported more widely. You only have to look at last week’s big news story on Google and internet censorship in China…

Repression and freedom of speech are a huge human rights issue in Asia and the far east, where the explosion in internet users over the past few years sits uncomfortably with the controls and measures taken by authorities to restrict its use.Today the Times reports on the long prison sentences handed down in Vietnam to a group of dissidents, including a human rights lawyer and anti government blogger, who have been jailed for between five and 16 years for their pro democracy activism, branded by the authorities as “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.”

Amnesty has expressed concern over the trial, and the use of the more serious charge of subversion which carries a longer sentence. This also comes at a time of escalating repression of critics of the government.

A new wave of arrests began in May 2009, targeting independent lawyers, bloggers and pro-democracy activists critical of government policies. Over 30 prisoners of conscience remain behind bars in Vietnam after unfair trials.Amnesty maintains that nobody should be imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

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