TWO KEY VIETNAMESE DISSIDENTS ARRESTED


2002-12-30
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 29--In a crackdown on some of its leading critics, the Vietnamese government arrested two well-known dissidents over the weekend, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Former Army Colonel and military historian Pham Que Duong was taken into custody with his wife and three others at 4 p.m. local time Saturday, Dec. 28, at the Ho Chi Minh City train station. They were preparing to return to Hanoi, according to sources in Vietnam and the United States.

They had been visiting Professor Tran Khue, who has been under house arrest for his pro-democracy activities, the sources told RFA's Vietnamese service. Publisher Ho Thu and two sons of journalist Cung Van were arrested with them.

On Sunday, Khue--a specialist in classical Chinese and Vietnamese--was arrested at his Ho Chi Minh City home, also at approximately 4 p.m., aaccording to the sources, who asked not to be named. Security officers confiscated his computer and two floppy disks.

Duong and Khue have recently emerged as de-facto spokesmen for the dissident movement inside Vietnam, in the North and South of the country, respectively. Another well-known opponent of the Vietnamese government, Hanoi-based Nguyen Thanh Giang, said he viewed the arrests as a warning to critics of the regime.

Vietnamese authorities couldn�t immediately be reached for comment. In Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Dan Que, founder of the Non-Violent Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam, urged governments and human rights organizations to "demand the immediate release of Prof. Tran Khue and Col. and Mrs. Pham Que Dong, and the others arrested over the weekend."

In November, Vietnamese cyber-dissident Le Chi Quang drew a sentence of four years' jail and three years' house arrest for "offenses against the State and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."

Quang had been accused of breaching anti-government legislation after posting articles on the Internet criticizing border agreements between Vietnam and China in 1999 and 2000. He had also advocated democracy and praised the work of fellow dissidents Nguyen Thanh Giang and Vu Cao Quan. Human rights organizations have long criticized Hanoi for seeking to quash all political dissent and routinely incarcerating government critics.

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