More Dissident Imprisonment in Vietnam
“One wonders what exactly the government of Vietnam is so afraid of that an elderly old man like Nguyen Van Lia, who has dedicated his life to religion, should frighten them so much that they feel the need to lock him away in prison.”
– Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch, Asia Division
The waves of crackdowns and arrests never end in the SRV (Socialist Republic of Vietnam). This time, the “lucky” recipients of the brutal regime are Tran Haoi An and Nguyen Van Lia. The duo have been detained and charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state,” which is just as preposterous as it sounds. What are these “democratic” freedoms that the government speaks of? It is ridiculous that the VCP would even use that word as part of a charge against the people. If their were democratic freedoms, this case wouldn’t even be happening.
Tran Haoi An and Nguyen Van Lia are members of the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, and, like the Christians, are feared by the Vietnamese government for their religious affiliations. Tran and Nguyen were captured in April with books, CDs, DVDs, and documents that were said to point out the abuses of the Communist government and pressing for religious freedom. The recent trial has sentenced the elderly Nguyen Van Lia, who is 71 years old, to five years in jail. Tran Hoai An’s sentence is lesser with three years in prison.
Human Rights Watch has demanded the immediate release of the Buddhist activists, most likely to further non-compliance by the Vietnamese government. As always, there is widespread criticism of the Communist Party’s poor treatment of political dissidents. Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch brings into question why the Vietnamese government is so afraid of an elderly old man like Nguyen Van Lia, and would go as far as sentencing him to five years in prison. It is sad and pathetic, but then again, it is the Communist Party, not surprised.
Coverage provided by BBC and The Associated Press.