Call for More Foreign Pressure on Political Freedoms in Vietnam

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Australia holds its annual human rights dialogue with Vietnam this week amid concern that western countries are easing pressure on Vietnam over its continuing crackdown on government critics.

Human Rights Watch called on the Australian delegation to call for significant and solid improvements during the talks in Hanoi.

It said that Australia should call for the release all political prisoners, an end to harassment and violence against activists, respect for freedom of religion, and an end to punishment for boat people returnees.

Vietnam has stepped up actions against political activists and human rights campaigners since appointing a new leadership at the beginning of the year. More activists and bloggers have been sentenced to jail terms this year, while others have been beaten in the streets and demonstrations have been broken up.

Analysts say that Vietnam appears ever less concerned about representations from western governments on political freedom.
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 Pledges on rights and freedoms from Vietnamese officials, including the new Chairwoman of the National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, have done nothing to ease repression on the ground. Photo courtesy VNS

In December last year, police arrested the human rights lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai, as he left home to attend a meeting with a visiting EU delegation. Vietnam ignored all representations on his behalf and continues to hold him without trial.

Police also prevented leading activists from attending a meeting with President Obama in May in another display of defiance against increasingly ineffectual foreign pressure on rights and freedoms.

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