Monday, April 28, 2008

Three dissidents sentenced under Article 88

The government of Vietnam has against invoked Article 88 prohibiting anti-state propaganda in its punishment of dissidents. This time, the victims are Pham Ba Hai, 40, sentenced to five years; Nguyen Ngoc Quang, 44, three years, and Vu Hoang Hai, 43, two years in prison, at a trial that apparently lasted one day on Friday. They are accused of forming a group named "Bach Dang River" in April 2006. According to Nhan Dan, they "uploaded distorted information on the internet in the period between April and August 2006 to ignite demonstrations and slander the party and government leaders, with the aim of sabotaging the Socialist Republic of Vietnam." Pham Ba Hai also apparently found a way to record his interrogation and then uploaded it onto the internet. Hai, a member of the pro-democracy Bloc 8406, has been in prison since September 2006. It isn't clear from the news reports if the other two have also been detained since that time.

According to Le Nga of Vietnam's Thanh Nien newspaper: "The court ruled in 2001, when working in India, Pham Ba Hai connived with his two henchmen in Vietnam to publish subversive material on the Internet to instigate many students to plot against the Vietnamese government." Nhan Dan, whose article was titled, "Distorted information spreaders given jail sentences," stated the accused "posted documents that distorted history, attacked administrations and tarnished the Party and state officials, and incited people to protest."

Clearly, these three dissidents were guilty of nothing more than criticizing the government and ruling party of Vietnam, an activity which should be protected, not criminalized.

Sources: DPA/Earth Times April 26; Thanh Nien, April 26; VNA/VNS April 26; Nhan Dan April 26.


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