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Vietnam Crisis Could ‘Threaten Survival’ Of Market-Leninist Regime

Publication Date: 
August 28, 2012
Source: 
Democracy Digest

Senior Lecturer Alan Weiner discusses a petition he filed with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) in Geneva contesting the illegal arrest and on-going detention of seventeen Vietnamese social and political activists.

Human rights groups today launched an appeal for the release of seventeen Vietnamese social activists, including bloggers and citizen journalists, who have been imprisoned for up to a year. One prominent dissident, rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan (right), was recently assaulted by plainclothes police.

The Communist authorities are cracking down on dissent, as the arrest of two leading Vietnamese bankers, including a close ally of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, has sparked a crisis that could "threaten the survival of the whole political regime," analysts suggest.

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The U.S. "must go beyond a rhetorical defense of human rights in Vietnam," in defense of activists like Quan, says Allen S. Weiner, a senior lecturer in law at Stanford Law School.

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"Vietnam’s desire to promote economic development through expanded trade is understandable, and U.S. interest in supporting Vietnam’s economic advancement is commendable. But even as Vietnam seeks to move forward economically, its political system remains mired in a repressive and authoritarian past," Weiner writes in the Washington Post:

Indeed, Clinton's announcement came shortly before the one-year anniversary of the first stage of the Vietnamese government’s detention of activists whose "crime" has been to advocate governmental action on a broad range of human rights and social justice issues, including environmental, health, legal, political and corruption-based concerns. More than a year later, almost all remain in detention; one is under house arrest. Real progress in Vietnam will come only when political reform and respect for the rule of law accompany economic progress.

Weiner, who serves as director of Stanford’s Program in International and Comparative Law, has filed a petition with the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention challenging the legality of the Vietnamese activists’ arrest and detention.