Vietnamese Activists Cite Curbs on Dissent

November 15, 2006

Author: Nicholas Kralev

Source: The Washington Times

Vietnamese democracy and human rights activists accused the government yesterday of stepping up harassment in an effort to silence them ahead of President Bush's visit and a high-profile economic summit this week.

The activists, some of whom are under house arrest, praised a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday that denied permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status to Vietnam and criticized Vietnam's removal from the State Department's blacklist of countries that limit religious freedom.

"The PNTR status must come with a condition that the government respect human rights for our own people," said Pham Hong Son, an activist who was detained for two years beginning in 2002 and has been under house arrest for another two.

He said he was detained because of an article on democracy that he translated into Vietnamese from the Web site of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and posted separately on the Internet. His claim could not be independently verified because the government does not comment on dissident cases.