05/27/2015, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Human rights blogger is freed and promises renewed battle

Hanoi authorities have released the 51 year old Truong Duy Nhat, who was sentenced in March 2014 to two years in prison. He was charged under Article 258 of the penal code, applied to target dissidents. He promises to continue his fight for rights and civil liberties in Vietnam.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The Vietnamese Authorities yesterday released a prominent blogger and activist, previously sentenced to two years in prison for "abusing democratic freedoms" with the aim of  "targeting state interests".  He is the 51 year old Truong Duy Nhat, indicted in March 2014 on the basis of Article 258 of the Criminal Code, an offense that can cost up to seven years in prison.

In recent years the communist government in Hanoi has used this law - written in a generic way and used to strike critical voices - to imprison dozens of activists, bloggers, personalities who fight for human rights and religious freedom in the Asian country.

Active in the panorama of national media until 2011, he is famous for having given birth to a popular blog titled "A different point of view" (Mot Cach Nhin Khac).

His writings offer a different view from the official media, controlled by the authorities, and this is what is reported to have unleashed "debates marked by hatred."

According to the indictment, in his blog Nhat published "false and defamatory" articles about Communist Party leaders.

Since his arrest the blog was taken down and authorities have blocked all access. In April of 2013 he had published an article calling on the Vietnamese leadership to resign en masse, because "it is time for the appointment of a new premier and a new Party Secretary.

The radical change was called for to help the nation exit from the stagnant magma caused by economic and political crisis, the result of years of mismanagement.

Interviewed by Radio Free Asia (RFA) in the hours following his release, Nath said that despite cervical hernia he received in prison, "nothing can bring me down." He added that "I am now out of jail" and "I hope that those who want to destroy this country are incarcerated instead of me."

"I have nothing to fear," continued the activist, discussing possible new arrests by the authorities.

"Even if they give me a life sentence or they execute me – he concluded –I'm telling you this sentence that you might already have known: They can harass, bully and attack your behavior, but they can't harass your mind".

For several years, Vietnam has seen a harsh campaign by the government against dissidents, bloggers, religious leaders (including Buddhists), Catholic activists or entire communities.

Last year for example, media and government carried out a smear campaign in the Diocese of Vinh against the local bishop and faithful.

Repression also affects individuals, guilty of claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.

According to the activist movement international Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently there are between 150 and 200 bloggers and activists detained in Vietnamese prisons, guilty of having wanted to exercise (and defend) basic human rights.

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