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Vietnam releases two rights advocates

HANOI (SE): Tran Minh Nhat and Thai Van Dung, both Catholic rights advocates, who were sentenced for plotting to overthrow the government in Vietnam four years ago, were freed on August 27.

They were found guilty of being affiliated with the banned opposition party, Viet Tan, Radio Free Asia reported.

Tran told the broadcaster that they had been under constant pressure to sign a confession in order to get a shorter sentence, but both had refused to do so.

“I am not guilty and nobody can force me to sign a confession,” Tran told Radio Free Asia after he arrived home from Gia Trung Camp.

He said he was also asked to sign a commitment not to re-offend, but tore it up, because he believes he is innocent. “That document does not have value to me,” he explained.

“In many detention camps that I have been in, there is some kind of mechanism that especially discriminates against some prisoners,” Tran related.

“The authorities do not respect or uphold the rules. We asked for nothing much—only that humans should be respected and human rights be guaranteed. But, they ignored our needs,” he said, adding that was what led them to go on hunger strikes.

“And of course, after a hunger strike, some things improved, but it was just a formality,” Tran explained.

“What I have been through is a priceless experience,” he said.

“In prison, I could see we will never have civilisation or progress in a society if that society is not based on the equality, justice and love between people,” he concluded.

Vietnam’s constitution guarantees freedom of belief and religion, but religious activity is closely monitored and remains under state control.


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