Viet Nam: Dissent stifled once again
Nguyen Vu Viet, 27, Nguyen Truc Cuong, 36, and their sister Nguyen Thi Hoa, 44, were sentenced yesterday to five, four and three years imprisonment respectively. The human right organisation regards the three human rights defenders as prisoners of conscience.
The sentences were passed after a three-hour trial closed to diplomats and foreign journalists. The three are accused of passing information about their uncle and the situation of religious freedom in Vietnam to overseas Vietnamese groups regarded by the authorities as 'reactionary'.
Nguyen Thi Hoa is a widow with four Children's rights aged between five and 18 years old. Her brothers have been held for over two years prior to the trial, which is a serious breach of Vietnamese criminal law procedures.
Amnesty International said:
'Imprisonment of these three siblings by the Vietnamese state is a further step in order to punish their uncle, Father Nguyen Van Ly.
'The three have been given these lengthy prison sentences for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, guaranteed in both the Vietnamese Constitution and international treaties to which Vietnam is a party.
'There is no justification for locking up those who dare to inform the rest of the world of what is happening in Vietnam.'
The Catholic priest, Father Nguyen Van Ly, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in October 2001 for consistently calling for more religious freedom and his long-standing criticism of the human rights policies of the Vietnamese government. The sentence was recently reduced to 10 years following an international outcry over his case.