June 19, 2009
Facing mounting public opposition against bauxite mining in the Central Highlands and outrage over Hanoi’s appeasement toward Chinese encroachment in the East Sea, Vietnam’s communist leadership is trying all means to silence the people. Applying the sweeping powers of article 88 of the Penal Code, authorities recently arrested attorney Le Cong Dinh for so-called propaganda against the socialist state. Subsequently, on state-controlled newspapers and television, authorities constantly accused Le Cong Dinh of collaborating with various political organizations, including Viet Tan. On June 18, the regime publicized details and video footage of Le Cong Dinh appearing to accept guilt and to request clemency.
Viet Tan asserts that:
The Hanoi regime uses Article 88 as an instrument to maintain its dictatorship and squelch peaceful democratic voices. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, people have the basic right to peacefully change their government. Only the communist leadership fears peaceful change and uses the legal system to repress those who hold different views, such as attorney Le Cong Dinh.
The labeling of training materials on nonviolent struggle—published by Viet Tan and found while police searched Le Cong Dinh’s home—as evidence of his supposed wrongdoing only demonstrates the communist leadership’s backward view of social change. Perhaps the communist leadership fears that its repressive machinery can be neutralized through the dissemination of knowledge on peaceful, nonviolent struggle. The booklet in Le Cong Dinh’s possession, From Dictatorship to Democracy, which state media ran photos of, is a public document which has been available for download at www.viettan.org since 2006.
The Hanoi regime itself violated all sorts of press laws and criminal proceedings rules when it mobilized the entire propaganda machinery to defame and fabricate accusations against Le Cong Dinh without waiting for the verdict of a trial, even that of a trial fully dominated by the regime.
In a legal system based on terror and lacking basic standards of justice, any admission of guilt from a victim publicized by the regime must be seen as a forced confession and therefore invalid.
Given the communist leadership’s efforts to suppress democratic voices and divert public opinion, Viet Tan calls on fellow Vietnamese to:
Prevent the communist leadership from drawing attention from the real dangers facing the country: bauxite mining in the Central Highlands and threats to Vietnamese sovereignty in the East Sea.
Do everything possible to secure the release of attorney Le Cong Dinh and other political prisoners who have been in jail or were recently detained.
Increase efforts to expose the reversed priorities of the Communist Party Politburo and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung: kowtowing to Beijing and acting tough toward Vietnamese citizens.
Duy Hoang +1.202.470.0845