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AFP : Rights body condemns Vietnam for political, religious repression

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HANOI, March 9 (AFP) – The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) said Tuesday it had adopted two resolutions at its triennial congress condemning “grave and consistent human rights violations in Vietnam”.

In an urgent resolution the FIDH expressed its “wholehearted support” for detained cyber-dissident Pham Que Duong who is expected to face trial soon.

The 73-year-old former colonel, who has been a long-term democracy advocate and critic of endemic corruption within the Communist Party, is charged with espionage, which is punishable by jail terms ranging from 12 years to life.

“Pham Que Duong is the next in a long line of dissidents whose freedom of expression has been stifled on trumped-up charges of ‘threatening national security’,” the Paris-based organization said in a statement.

“2002-2003 were marked by a salient increase in the repression of cross-border communications and the free circulation of ideas and information under the pretext of ‘espionage’.”

International human rights groups have long charged Hanoi with smothering all political dissent and routinely jailing democracy activists or critics of the communist regime.

In a general resolution on Vietnam, the FIDH strongly condemned the “widespread crackdown” launched in 2003 against the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

“The brutal and systematic nature of this repression suggests that the Vietnamese authorities are aiming to purely and simply to eliminate the traditional UBCV,” it said.

The FIDH called for the immediate release of the church’s patriarch Thich Huyen Quang, 86, and his deputy Thich Quang Do, 75, who are both being detained incommunicado at their monasteries.

It also demanded the immediate legitimization of the church, which was banned in 1981 after it refused to come under the control of the ruling Communist Party.

The Vietnamese foreign ministry could not be reached for comment.

The FIDH congress took place last week in Ecuador and brought together 144 human rights leagues from 110 countries.

In a report published in December, the US State Department grouped Vietnam in a worst offenders category of totalitarian and authoritarian states which view religious groups as “enemies of the state”.

Last month, in its annual human rights report, it said the communist regime’s rights record remained poor “and it continued to commit serious abuses last year”.


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