Crackdown Emphasizes Vietnam's One-Party State The heat is rising for Vietnamese activists as the government launches a major crackdown on dissent. The international community, including the United States, has protested — and has been told, politely, it's not their business.

Crackdown Emphasizes Vietnam's One-Party State

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NPR's Michael Sullivan has more from Hanoi.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: Last month, Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet addressed a lawyers' conference in Hanoi and vowed to go after those who, quote, "trample democracy and human rights."

SULLIVAN: conducting propaganda against the government and according to the Vietnamese media, calling for multi-party democracy. Shortly after the lawyer's arrest, the president gave another speech - one that addressed the international community's criticism of the arrest.

NGUYEN MINH TRIET: (Through Translator) Every nation has its own laws, and those who violate those laws are punished. In this case and some others, they say we violate human rights. But we must be strong and firm in rejecting such criticism and act according to our own law.

SULLIVAN: In short, Vietnam's Communist Party has no intention of loosening its grip on political power. Lawyer Dinh's arrest is just one of several in the past few months, the biggest crackdown in years. And almost all of those detained, says Vietnam watcher Carl Thayer of the Australian Defense Force Academy, were associated with the outlawed Democratic Party of Vietnam.

CARL THAYER: Here, we're looking at people, Fulbright-scholar-trained in the United States. The most recent arrest was a Vietnamese-American at the University of Tennessee. Another was an IT graduate from France. These are the up-and-coming youth, well-educated, MA degrees, law degrees, highly literate, highly computer savvy, and I think the concern is their ideas can spread.

SULLIVAN: Which might help explain why the government worked so hard, so fast to make its case against Le Cong Dinh in public.


SULLIVAN: Analyst Carl Thayer.

THAYER: And so when domestic dissidents raise this issue, they're touching on very sensitive issues for the top leadership. It doesn't know how to treat China and so it's falling prey to the charge that they're selling out to China by being too soft.

SULLIVAN: Michael Sullivan, NPR News, Hanoi.

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