Several days ago, on February 6, 2013, human rights activist and Harvard-educated lawyer Le Cong Dinh was abruptly released from Vietnamese prison. In 2009, Mr. Le was sentenced to 5 years by the Communist government for “spreading propaganda against the state,” which was basically defending human rights and peacefully expressing his views. His release from prison is peculiar, since he has only served three years of his jail term so far.
Mr. Le is a prominent figure in Vietnam’s human rights movement. Before his arrest, Le Cong Dinh openly opposed China’s bauxite mining on Vietnamese soil, a project that was harmful and destructive to Vietnam’s environment. He is also a strong voice in defense of Vietnam’s human rights and democratic activists. Furthermore, Mr. Le expressed his intention to sue Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party for their terrorist activities in the seas, and their nihilistic behavior towards Paracel and Spratly.
As once can see, Mr. Le poses a threat to many. Not only were the Communists in Vietnam worried about this man, but the Chinese were too alarmed by Le Cong Dinh’s activism. This is what makes his recent release from prison so puzzling. Given his track record, Le Cong Dinh is not someone the Communists would want in the streets. If you ask me, since I’m such a skeptic, his recent release is simply a political maneuver by the party to get themselves back on America’s good graces.
Even though Mr. Le is released from confinement, there are still strings attached to his “freedom.” Le Cong Dinh is currently under house arrest, for three years. So even though he is no longer in prison, he still cannot leave the house and communicate with the outside world. The upside of his release is that now he can be closer to his family, and that he is free from the horrid conditions of Vietnamese jail.
As far as human rights goes, the Communist still have no intention of making any improvements. Though I am pleased that they have released Le Cong Dinh from jail, I am not impressed by the fact that he cannot even leave his house. This is simply one of those tricks they play form time to time in an attempt to appear as though they are changing. Their behavior is reminiscent of that dirt bag relative who occasionally shows up at your house. That one relative who pretends they changed, begging you to throw them another dollar for them to carry on their worthless lives. Before the Communists release Cu Huy Ha Vu or Viet Khang, I am not impressed.
The dirt bag relative is only a metaphor, of course.