04/14/2014, 00.00
VIETNAM
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On back of international pressure, Hanoi releases two pro-democracy activists

In recent days 31 year old Nguyen Tien Trung and 57 year old Duc Hoi were released. Both were arrested and convicted for anti-government propaganda and attempt to overthrow the government. In reality they were asking for a multi-party system and institutional reforms. Foreign diplomatic efforts key.

Hanoi ( AsiaNews) - On the back of strong pressure from the international community, which is calling for progress on human rights, the Vietnamese government - or Communist Party - has released two prominent dissidents. Pro-democracy activist Nguyen Tien Trung and blogger and Vi Duc Hoi were released on 12 April, after nearly five years behind bars before having served their full sentence. Trung, now 31 years old , was arrested in July 2009 and sentenced to seven years in 2010 for " attempting to overthrow the government" and the Communist leadership favoring the formation of an opposition party. Hoi , 57, a former member of the Communist Party, was arrested in October 2010 and punished in 2011 to eight years in prison - later reduced to five - for "anti-government propaganda" on the internet, through articles and comments that called for human rights and reforms.

Hoi is still critical of the government and emphasizes that the Hanoi authorities granted him an early release because of foreign pressure. He denies having health problems after his release, as in other cases of dissidents released because they were terminally ill. However, the activist renews charges against a government that has "no mercy" for those who disagree .

Interviewed by Radio Free Asia (RFA), the Trung's mother, Le Thi Tam speaks of her surprise at the news of her son's release from prison, which arrived while she was busy with the morning chores. "We are very surprised - she adds - and happy."

In the early days of last week the well-known activist and dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu , who was imprisoned for trying to bring a court case against the Vietnamese Prime Minister , was released and extradited to the United States. In 2011 he was sentenced to seven years in prison for "activities against the State".

There has been an ongoing government campaign in Vietnam against dissidents, bloggers, religious leaders (including Buddhists), Catholic activists and entire faith communities with dozens of arrests or raids against, as was the case last year in the diocese of Vinh.  There the media and government launched a smear campaign and targeted attacks against the bishop and faithful. The repression also affects individuals guilty of claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights .

Activist organizations and international observers, including Reporters Without Borders (RSF ) state that Vietnam is the second only to China for the number of bloggers and dissidents imprisoned.

 

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