Intensifying a crackdown on dissent in advance of a Communist Party Congress, Vietnam has charged a prominent American-educated human rights lawyer and at least two associates with the capital crime of subversion, the official press reported on Wednesday.
The lawyer, Le Cong Dinh, 41, was arrested in June along with four other pro-democracy campaigners. All had at first faced the less severe charge of spreading antigovernment propaganda, which is more commonly brought against dissidents.
Two months later, a shaky video showed Mr. Dinh sitting in his shirt sleeves at a small, bare table and reading a handwritten confession aloud as his jailers shuffled around noisily off-camera.
“I regret my wrong actions,” Mr. Dinh said, looking down at the text. “I wish the state to consider clemency for me.”
That confession and similar ones by other dissidents are part of a crackdown that human rights groups say has included dozens of arrests and prison terms.
In October, nine people were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to six years for hanging banners that called for multiparty democracy.
Diplomats and political analysts say the arrests are meant not only to punish but also to set the boundaries for discussion in advance of the next Communist Party Congress, set for early 2011.
“It’s a shot across the bow in advance of the congress to tell people to keep their heads down,” said Carlyle B. Thayer, a specialist on Vietnam at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra. “Now is not the time for you to advocate political liberalization.”
The arrests have drawn condemnation from Western governments and human rights groups, putting the Vietnamese government on the defensive.
On a visit to Slovakia a week ago, President Nguyen Minh Triet said Vietnam should not be subject to the standards of the West.
“Laws of each country are different,” he said. “They are based on the different historical and geographical conditions, and that is why it is impossible to implement the laws of one state in the other country.”
LIKE GOOD LITTLE LEFTIST THEY APPEAL TO CULTURAL RELATIVISM.
RELATIVISM IS THE LAST REFUGE OF THE POSTMODERN LEFT.
THE WEST SHOULD REVOKE ALL OF VIETNAM'S IMF AND.OR WORLD BANK LOANS AND ANY TRADE PRIVILEGES AND/OR ADVANTAGES THEY WERE GIVEN TO SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH.
(VIETNAM GETS "SUSTAINABLE" DEVELOPMENT AID. "SUSTAINABLE" IS LIBSPEAK FOR SOCIALIST.)
SADLY, OBAMA IS APPEASING SCUM LIKE THESE IN BURMA. HE WON'T DO BUPKUS TO HELP THIS LAWYER OR LIBERATE THE VIETNAMESE. HECK, HE'D LIKE THE USA TO BE MORE LIKE VIETNAM, PROBABLY!