07/08/2009, 00.00
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More pro-democracy activists arrested in Vietnam

by J.B.An Dang
Two former soldiers end up behind bars, charged with promoting movements that want to change the political system. The government has been cracking down on dissidents in recent weeks, arresting about 30. A week ago a group of US senators demanded the liberation of Fr Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Pro-democracy activists continue to be arrested in Vietnam. The latest two are former soldiers. In one case, Nguyen Tien Trung, 26, was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City the day after he was discharged from the military. Colonel Tran Anh Kim, 60, was taken into custody instead on Monday in Thai Binh. Their arrest is part of a wave of repressive measures taken by the authorities against political dissidents. In the last few weeks alone, some 30 have been arrested.

These arrests come after Le Cong Dinh, a well-known human rights lawyer, was arrested a week after a group of 37 US senators asked Vietnamese President to free Fr Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly (pictured, during his trial).

Father Ly is a 62-year-old Catholic priest who was sentenced in 2007 to eight years in prison and five under administrative probation for setting up in April 2006 a pro-democracy group called Bloc 8406 which now has 2,000 members. He is also accused of supporting illegal groups like the Progressive Party of Vietnam.

In the two other arrests, Nguyen Tien Trung was arrested by police for organising the Movement of Democratic Youth, an organisation accused of cooperating with local and foreign anti-government groups to bring about a 'change of political regime' in Vietnam.

Police said Trung wrote blogs, distributed documents, ran the 'Democracy Youth Forum' on the internet and made speeches at meetings to incite people to oppose the government.

He has also been accused of inciting university students to protest China's move to set up an administrative district for the disputed Spratlys and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea in December 2007 as well as for instigating demonstrations against the Olympic torch relay in Ho Chi Minh City in April last year.

Colonel Tran Anh Kim belongs instead to Bloc 8406 and is the general secretary of the Vietnam Democratic Party. He was arrested for 'acting to undermine the State’ and ‘violating Article 88 of Vietnam's Criminal Code.'

Kim was accused of working with exile groups in the United States including Viet Tan, which Vietnam’s communist government considers a terrorist organisation, to sabotage the government, state-controlled Vietnam News Agency reported.

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