4 ar­rested in Viet­nam dis­si­dent crack­down

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Four dis­si­dents have been ar­rested in Viet­nam on charges of try­ing to over­throw the state, au­thor­i­ties said yes­ter­day as the coun­try’s com­mu­nist lead­er­ship ramps up its crack­down on crit­ics. Ac­tivists, rights lawyers and blog­gers are rou­tinely jailed in the one-party state but a new gov­ern­ment in place since last year has vig­or­ously pur­sued de­trac­tors.

The four lat­est ar­rests were of dis­si­dents who had pre­vi­ously served jail sen­tences for anti-state con­vic­tions. But the cur­rent charge they face is much more se­ri­ous and can carry the death penalty. Prom­i­nent dis­si­dents Pham Van Troi and Nguyen Bac Truyen, free­lance writer Truong Minh Duc and Protes­tant pas­tor Nguyen Trung Ton were all ar­rested at their homes on Sun­day, their wives told re­porters.

In an on­line state­ment the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity said the four were ar­rested un­der Ar­ti­cle 79 of the crim­i­nal code-try­ing to “over­throw the peo­ple’s ad­min­is­tra­tion”. They are con­nected to lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and ac­tivist Le Thu Ha, who have al­ready been de­tained on the same charge. “My hus­band fought against so­cial in­jus­tice and China’s in­va­sion of the East Sea,” Troi’s wife Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang told AFP, us­ing the Viet­namese name for the South China Sea.

“He did not have any move to try to over­throw the state.” Ton’s wife Nguyen Thi Lanh said her hus­band was al­ready re­cov­er­ing from a re­cent as­sault by plain­clothes po­lice when he was ar­rested. “Voic­ing sup­port for the peo­ple can­not be called try­ing to over­throw the ad­min­is­tra­tion,” she told AFP. Viet­nam has com­petit­ing claims with China in the South China Sea but Hanoi is ex­tremely sen­si­tive to any crit­i­cism about how it han­dles the is­sue. John Sifton, from Hu­man Rights Watch, said 2017 has been “a ter­ri­ble year” for hu­man rights in Viet­nam. — AFP

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