Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Ngan arrested

Hanoi police today arrested dissident lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Ngan, both charged with violating Article 88 of Vietnam's Criminal Code, which forbids "conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam." The police warrant ordered both of them to be detained under Article 120 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows the police to detain individuals up to four months without trial pending investigation. In the case of national security defendants (i.e. dissidents), this period may be extended four times, or for a total of 20 months, after which the People’s Procurator is entitled to apply "other deterrent measures."

The Vietnam Committee for Human Rights reports:

"Nguyen Van Dai, who founded a 'Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam' in November 2006, has recently been summoned repeatedly for Police interrogations because of his pronouncements for human rights and democracy. On February 28th, following pressure from Security Police, the Business Registration Office of Hanoi’s Planning and Investment Bureau issued a 'Decision' to withdraw the licence of TNHH, the Translation and Legal Consultation firm in Hanoi of which Nguyen Van Dai is a co-founder and Executive Director. Ms Le Thi Cong Nhan, spokesperson of the unofficial 'Progress Party' and also an outspoken proponent of democracy, has also been repeatedly harassed by Security Police."

The committee believes the arrest is part of an ongoing crackdown on dissidents in Vietnam, in the wake of the APEC summit, Vietnam entering the World Trade Organization, and the U.S. State Department removing Vietnam from its list of Countries of Particular Concern regarding religious repression.

Reporters Without Borders has some additional information about Nguyen Van Dai:

"One of the leaders of Vietnam’s pro-democracy movement and a staunch human rights activist, Dai regularly posts pro-democracy essays on websites based abroad. Last June, shortly after the 10th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, he wrote an article on the 'right to found a party in Vietnam' for the BBC’s Vietnamese-language website.

"The authorities mobilised some 200 residents in the Hanoi district of Bach Khoa on 8 February to act as a 'popular court' to try him on a charge of 'treason'. Although this kind of court does not have the power to hand down prison sentences, it is used by the government to intimidate dissidents.

"Shortly before his arrest, Dai began a blog on the Reporters Without Borders blog platform. He posted his essay on political parties there, as well as photos of his trip to the United States last year, when he met with State Department officials."

Source: Press release of the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights, March 6; Reporters Without Borders news release, March 6.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home