A former Vietnamese Communist Party official was sentenced to eight years in jail Wednesday for posting articles on the Internet calling for a multiparty system and democracy, his lawyer said.
Vi Duc Hoi, 54, was convicted of spreading anti-government propaganda, defense lawyer Tran Lam said. The court in northern Lang Son province also sentenced Hoi to five years of house arrest after he finishes his jail term.
Hoi was accused of violating Vietnam's national security laws by using the Internet to promote a multiparty system and democracy.
"The sentence was too harsh," Lam said by telephone. "Many people who did the same should also have been arrested and imprisoned."
Hoi joined the Communist Party in 1980 and quickly rose to a high-ranking position that involved overseeing the education of upcoming local party leaders. But he started calling for democratic reforms in 2006 and was expelled from the party a year later. (1)
Veitnam has plenty of form for totalitarian repression acting against critics and workers trying to improve their conditions (2). But it's in our economic interest to pretend this isn't happening, or is totally unconnected with our economic involvement in the country, or is 'improving.'
1 - "Vietnamese dissident sentenced to 8 years in jail," unattributed article. Published by AP Foreign. Reproduced in The Guardian, 26th of January, 2011. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/9469266)2 - "Clinton arriving, Vietnam arrests bloggers, sentences activists," by John Pomfret. Published in The Washington Post, 29th of October, 2010. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/28/AR2010102806797.html)