03/12/2020, 13.57
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Hanoi following Beijing in forcing dissidents to make televised confessions

A Spanish NGO released a report showing how victims are forced to frame the accusations against them as crimes against the state or the party. Once unsophisticated compare to China, Vietnam is now catching up.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/RFA) – Vietnam is adopting the techniques of another communist regime, China’s, when it comes to forcing human rights activists and other political prisoners to make televised confessions, a Spain-based rights NGO said on Wednesday.

In its report titled ‘Coerced on Camera: Televised Confessions in Vietnam,’ the NGO Safeguard Defenders, which is led by Vietnamese Nguyễn Quốc Ngữ, identified 21 people who, since 2007, have been forced by authorities to confess on TV.

For 16 of them, it found videos. Of these, 14 were human rights defenders -- rights lawyers, citizen journalists, villagers protesting against land grabs – while one was a state oil executive public accused of corruption and another was a farmer accused of murder.

However, “That number is likely much much higher,” the group said in a statement. “Vietnam's poor human rights record makes it more than likely that many of these victims are also routinely exposed to arbitrary detention, mental and physical torture and threats”.

What is more, “Like China, some of Vietnam’s victims are made to frame their crimes as being anti-state or anti-Party, a reflection of how authoritarian countries criminalise dissenting or critical voices”.

The report notes that Vietnam’s forced-confession broadcasts have long been less sophisticated than China’s, but added that Vietnamese authorities have been catching up.

“Starting in 2017, the confession news packages appear to become more elaborate,” the report said.

One slicker confession video is that of William Nguyen, a US citizen of Vietnamese descent and the only foreigner subject to the practice.

“He was shown carefully framed against a blue background and an attempt was made to make it seem natural and not a simple police questioning session,” the group said.

Nguyen’s confession dates back to 2018, when the graduate student from Houston, Texas, was found guilty of “disturbing public order” for taking part in rare, large-scale protests and then deported to the United States.

This year, Vietnamese state television went even further in showing the confessions of family members of an elderly community leader killed by Vietnamese police during a land protest outside Hanoi in January.

Le Dinh Kinh, 84, was shot dead on 9 January when police attacked his home in Dong Tam’s Hoanh village in an early morning operation that involved some 3,000 security officers.

“On 13 January, just four days after the attack, four villagers, including Kinh’s son, grandson, adopted daughter and another male relative, appeared on state broadcaster VTV1 to confess to taking part in the violence. Their faces were bruised and cut. All four were accused of murder,” the report said.

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