Activist Released for Health Condition

But the Vietnamese pro-democracy activist has to be available whenever authorities want to question him.

2011.03.01
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nguyendanque305.jpg Nguyen Dan Que sits while police search his home, Feb. 26, 2011.
thanhnienonline

Vietnamese authorities have released a prominent political dissident due to health reasons after detaining him over the weekend, according to state media.

Nguyen Dan Que, a 69-year-old physician, was released on bail Sunday evening after being arrested by police agents the previous day at his home in Ho Chi Minh City. He was accused of being in possession of “anti-state” documents allegedly calling for the overthrow of the one-party Communist regime.

State-controlled newspaper Tuoi Tre reported Tuesday that Que had been allowed to leave the police station where he had been held because of his poor health and because he had cooperated with investigators.

But he will be required to return to the station for further questioning when requested, the report said, quoting an unnamed police investigator from Ho Chi Minh City.

A Call for Democracy
The brother of Dr. Nguyen Dan Que describes the actions that led to the Vietnamese dissident’s arrest.

His wife, Tam Van, confirmed in an interview on Sunday evening that Que had been suffering from health problems.

“The doctor is about to see the police again. [The police] told me that Dr. Nguyen Dan Que had violated the law, and they accused him of plotting to overthrow the government, just based on what they read from the Internet. They are still working on his case,” Tam Van said.

“They let me take him home to rest, but he has to be available whenever they want to question him,” she said.

“When he returned home he was very tired. He has a lot of health problems; including high blood pressure, kidney stone, and ulcers … I informed them of his health condition.”

Outspoken activist

Que has often spoken out about the need for democracy and human rights accountability in Vietnam and has paid the price for his beliefs, spending a total of 20 years in prison or under house arrest on three separate occasions since 1978.

In a Feb. 2 interview, Que told RFA that Vietnamese activists had been inspired by the recent overthrow of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East following massive popular uprisings.

According to his brother Nguyen Quoc Quan, who lives in Virginia, Que admitted to police on Saturday that he was the author of a letter calling for people to “take to the street to fight against the communist government—to establish a new democratic government in Vietnam.”

In the letter, Que referred to the “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia that triggered uprisings elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.

Agence France Presse said it had obtained a recent communique from Que calling on Vietnam’s youth to "take to the streets to dismantle the Politburo!" and to “assemble for demonstrations” in order to “take advantage of the democracy movements in Africa and the Middle East."

Que had also lashed out at the Vietnamese government for its poor human rights record and recently published an editorial in the Washington Post condemning authorities for a January attack on a U.S. diplomat who was attempting to visit another high-profile dissident who had recently been released from prison.

Bid for membership

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s deputy foreign ministers Pham Binh Minh told the 16th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday that his country would apply for council membership for the 2013-2016 period.

The move came despite condemnations over Vietnam’s human rights record from various groups.

The London-based Amnesty International lists its key human rights concerns in Vietnam to include severe restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly and the harassment, arrest and imprisonment of dissidents.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in the 2011 edition of its annual World Report that the Vietnamese government “intensified its repression of activists and dissidents during 2010, and cracked down harshly on freedom of expression, association, and assembly.”

"Peacefully expressing views should not be a crime, but the government apparently fears what these individuals have to say," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The U.S. State Department wrote in its most recent Human Rights Report that Vietnam’s human rights record “remained a problem” in 2009.

It noted that citizens could not change their government and that political opposition movements were prohibited, adding that authorities increased their suppression of dissent during the year by arresting several activists and convicting others arrested the year before.

Reported by Mac Lam for RFA’s Vietnamese service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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