08/30/2013, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Hanoi frees thousands on Independence Day but no political prisoners

No one convicted for "propaganda against the state", grounds used against dissenters, is included in the amnesty list. Two Christian members from the persecuted Montagnard community in the Central Highlands are released. Celebrations are set for next Monday, 2 September, to mark 68 years since Ho Chi Minh's historic 1945 speech.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Vietnamese authorities will release more than 15,000 prisoners next Monday, 2 September, Independence Day. However, the list will not include people detained for "propaganda against the state" or "attempting to overthrow the established order," charges the ruling Communist party uses against dissent, political crimes or thought crimes. However, four people accused of "crimes against national security" will be released, including two Montagnard Christians, members of an ethnic minority living in Vietnam's highlands that has been persecuted by the central government.

In one of its biggest shows of clemency, the Communist government will release in the coming days 15,446 prisoners, including 1,842 women and 16 foreigners. However, only a handful could be considered "political prisoners"; the vast majority will be people convicted of ordinary crimes.

The four people convicted of crimes related to national security slated for release on 2 September are Duong Duc Phong and Hoang Hung Quyen, in jail for espionage; Y Kong Nie and Y Hong Niem, two Montagnards from the Central Highlands, convicted for endangering "national unity."

Little else is known about these four people. What is certain is no major dissident, human rights activist or Catholic figure in jail for defending freedom of religion and thought will benefit from the amnesty.

Important dissidents will thus remain in prison; people like Cu Huy Ha Vu, Catholic lawyer Le Quoc Quan, blogger and activist Nguyen Van Hai, known as Dieu Cay, who is in jail after a show trial for propaganda against the state. According to human rights groups, the Communist government in Hanoi imprisoned 50 activists this year bringing the total to more than 120.

Next Monday, 2 September, Vietnam will celebrate the 68th anniversary of its independence, commemorating a speech Ho Chi Minh delivered on that date in 1945. Considered the father of the nation, especially in the North, he was the founder of the Communist Party, which is still the country's ruling party.

Vietnamese authorities usually grant amnesty to thousands of prisoners on major national holidays, like Independence Day and Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year).

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