Monday, February 28, 2011

Vietnam dissident detained for revolution calls

28 Feb, 2011
Source: AP

HANOI, Vietnam – One of Vietnam's most prominent pro-democracy dissidents has been detained after calling for a revolution to overthrow the Communist government, state-controlled media reported Monday.

Nguyen Dan Que last week posted an appeal on the Internet calling for the masses to launch an uprising to make a "clean sweep of Communist dictatorship and build a new, free, democratic, humane and progressive Vietnam."

Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Monday that the 69-year-old Que was being held by police in Ho Chi Minh City for allegedly acting to overthrow the government. It said his house was searched Saturday and police found 60,000 documents on his computer calling for a revolution.

Police declined to comment.

Que told police he authored many documents and also distributed them to anti-Communist organizations or individuals in Vietnam and abroad, the newspaper said.

It quoted Lt. Col. Nguyen Sy Quang, deputy administrator of Ho Chi Minh City police as saying "Que's act is very dangerous, directly violating the stability and strength of the people's government."

Vietnam does not tolerate any challenge to its one-party rule, and often uses vague national security laws to imprison anyone considered a threat. Hanoi maintains that only lawbreakers are punished.

Que, is a doctor who also heads the Non-Violent Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam. He has been jailed three times since 1978, serving a total of 20 years behind bars for promoting democracy and human rights. Vietnam considers his actions a treat to national security.

On Saturday, The Washington Post ran an opinion piece authored by Que criticizing Vietnamese police for manhandling a U.S. Embassy diplomat as he tried to visit another well-known dissident and Catholic priest Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly last month in central Hue.

"If Washington is looking to Vietnam for a long-term partner for peace and regional stability, America would do well to recognize publicly that only a Vietnam that is free and democratic can provide one," it said.

The call for a revolution comes as neighboring China works to stifle protests organized over the Internet amid democratic movements across the Middle East.

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