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Rights groups join forces to oppose crackdown in Vietnam

Authorities have arrested or exiled at least 25 peaceful activists and bloggers

Rights groups join forces to oppose crackdown in Vietnam

Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known as "Mother Mushroom," stands trial at a courthouse in the central city of Nha Trang on June 29. Quynh, a Catholic mother of two, was given a 10-year prison sentence for "propaganda against the state." (Photo by AFP)

October 18, 2017

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A coalition of human rights organizations in Vietnam and abroad have called on the communist government to end its "unprecedented" crackdown on rights activists and dissidents.

The coalition, which includes Reporters Without Borders, Lawyers for Lawyers and Brotherhood for Democracy has come "together to 'Stop the Crackdown' in Vietnam" — said a statement issued Oct. 16.

The statement said Vietnam is amid an unprecedented political crackdown against peaceful expression.

"So far this year, the Vietnamese authorities have arrested or exiled at least 25 peaceful activists and bloggers," it said.

The coalition said the government has orchestrated the wrongful conviction and sentencing of human rights defenders and bloggers.

Catholic blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Nguyen Van Oai, another Catholic activist, was given a five-year-prison sentence.

The rights groups said Christian Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, one of Vietnam's most renowned human rights lawyers and bloggers, has been arbitrarily detained for almost two years without trial.

They accused the government of having "resorted to unsubstantiated national security charges to justify repression of free expression, free information and peaceful advocacy."

Authorities have targeted social media and used "fake news" excuses to justify censorship, they said.

The coalition's statement said government authorities "continually resort to tactics of prosecution, arbitrary detention, abuse, and harassment to silence dissenting voices."

This crackdown violates international law, damages Vietnam's reputation abroad, and limits the country's progress, they added.

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