Vietnam has stepped up arrests and harsh gag orders on activists, independent journalists, bloggers and Facebook commenters who raise concerns or criticism of their government in 2020, rights groups said.
One-party Vietnam’s already low tolerance of dissent has deteriorated sharply this year with a steady drumbeat of arrests in the run-up to the ruling Communist Party conference next month.
According to Amnesty International, as of May, 2019 Vietnam had in its custody 118 prisoners of conscience. Some have since been released after serving their sentences, but many more have been arrested and detained on similar charges. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in June that since the end of 2019 that the crackdown had been intensifying. HRW said that at that time it was aware of “at least 150 people convicted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression or association and currently in prison,” and 15 more on pretrial detention.
“Vietnam has one of the worst human rights records in Southeast Asia. It has some of the largest number of political prisoners and is sentencing people to extremely long prison terms,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia Division told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.