Is Vietnam going the way of China?


Credit: RFA

Activist Pham Doan Trang (above) said she was held for questioning by security officials for several hours on Saturday over her most recent book Politics for the Masses, which is outlawed in Vietnam and includes sections on democracy and political ideology, according to reports. Plain-clothes police surrounded her home in Hanoi after her release late on Saturday, she told AFP.

“I escaped … which is a miracle,” she said from an undisclosed hideout in Vietnam, adding that she was targeted because of her 2017 book, which she called a political science textbook. “Vietnam’s Communist Party simply dislikes anyone who purports to be more legitimate than them, more worthy than them to hold power,” she said.

The activist blogger says she will not travel outside the country to receive a human rights award in March, vowing instead to remain in Vietnam to work for change in the one-party communist state, RFA adds.

“I haven’t gone abroad and don’t plan to, not even for a few days to receive the Homo Homini Prize in the Czech Republic on March 5,” Trang said.“I will never leave Vietnam until Vietnam has changed.”

In a new report entitled “Shrinking Spaces: Assessment of the Human Rights Situation in Vietnam during the 2nd Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review”, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) documents one of the worst crack-downs in recent years against human rights defenders, bloggers and religious followers in Vietnam:

The 36-page report describes an escalation of arrests, imprisonment and arbitrary convictions, increased police brutality against peaceful demonstrators and activists, ill-treatment in police custody, increased use of the death penalty, and reinforcement of the “rule by law” – the adoption of restrictive legislation to constrain civil society space and criminalize the exercise of fundamental human rights.  

VCHR’s report, which is published in English, French and Vietnamese, comes as arrests and harsh convictions of dissidents in Vietnam are multiplying with frightening speed. Since 23 January 2018 alone, at least 16 civil society activists have been condemned to 95 ½ years in prison at a series of politically-motivated trials. RTWT

Is Vietnam going the way of China?

Despite being its communist peer, Vietnam’s one-party regime is widely regarded as relatively more democratic than China’s, notes Nguyen Khac Giang, the lead political researcher at the Hanoi-based Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR).

The praise is grounded on Vietnam’s consensus-based leadership, intraparty democracy, and arguably less repressed civil society. Nevertheless, these factors have markedly deteriorated since the incumbent Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) boss, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, was re-elected in early 2016, he writes for The Diplomat:

This tendency has been accelerated as the CPV is preparing to hold its midterm meeting this spring, the 7th Plenum, at which significant decisions on leadership and internal reforms will be made. …..Civil society activists in Vietnam might have not been shocked, however, as they have suffered unusually tough treatment in the two years of Trong’s renewed tenure. The police arrested 19 and 21 activists in 2016 and 2017 respectively, compared to just seven in 2015. The long-awaited Law on Associations, which could have made the precarious environment in Vietnam safer for civil society, has been suspended indefinitely.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email