Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights
28 February 2011
Amnesty International has demanded the release of a Vietnamese human rights activist arrested for allegedly calling for a Middle East-style uprising in the south-east Asian country.
Dr Nguyen Dan Que, a prominent government critic, was detained on Saturday after authorities said he was caught "red-handed keeping and distributing documents" calling for the overthrow of the government.
The 69-year-old doctor, who had been jailed three previous times, is said to have released a statement calling for demonstrations.
"We are shocked to learn that Dr Que has been arrested yet again," said Donna Guest, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.
"The authorities should immediately end draconian attempts to stifle peaceful dissidents, which have seen more than 20 activists jailed in the last 12 months.”
Police seized a computer and documents from the home of Dr Que, who could face the death penalty or life imprisonment on charges of "overthrowing" the state.
Media reports suggest his arrest may be linked to a statement he made last week calling for people to rise-up against the government, with a reference to the democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Dr Que is a staunch and peaceful defender of human rights and free speech, for which he has paid a heavy price, including spending almost 20 years in prison,” said Donna Guest.
"It also seems no coincidence that Dr Que's arrest comes on the same day that his article criticising the Vietnamese authorities’ position on human rights was published in the Washington Post.”
Freedom of expression and association for government critics is severely restricted in Viet Nam.
At least 20 peaceful dissidents, including bloggers, writers, business people, labour activists and a human rights lawyer have been sentenced to long prison terms following unfair trials in the past year.