Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The trial of a Vietnamese journalist and democracy activist accused of violence and hooliganism started this morning. In three months, and ahead of the Party Congress, the Vietnamese government has imposed jail sentences on 16 dissidents.
Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, 49, is part of a small group of dissidents who work for an end to single party rule and for pluralism. On 8 October she was stopped because the police did not want her going to Haiphong, where the trial of some activists was being held. That evening, she and her husband were accused of having attacked and beaten up some people who complained about their bike, which blocked the road.
In fact, according to Human Rights Watch, the Thuy and her husband were caught and beaten by thugs, under the gaze of police. At trial the Thuy was accused of having thrown stones at the attackers and of using a stick to beat them.
In recent years the police have often used the shield of thugs to attack dissidents, Christians and Buddhists.
Thuy has been active in the dissident community since 2006. For many years she had worked in state media and later opened an online site to promote democracy. She has also started an organization to defend workers and farmers whose lands were confiscated by the government.
In recent weeks, the Vietnamese authorities have tried and jailed 16 pro-democracy activists. Some have been convicted of "propaganda against the state", and others for trying to "overthrow the state", calling for a multiparty, democratic society.
Some analysts believe that this "cleansing" before the lunar new year is a preparation for the Party Congress, which will choose the new leader of the country. But others point out that this repression is continuing and seeks to preserve the power of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Earlier this week, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Party, Nong Duc Manh, who is secretary general, said that Vietnam is determined to fight any hostile forces that ... plan calling for a multiparty system and exploit rights democracy to sabotage our socialist system. "