HUMAN RIGHTS IN VIETNAM

HUMAN RIGHTS IN VIETNAM

Vietnam does not tolerate any challenge to its one-party rule, and the government is regularly criticized by the U.S. and other Western countries for silencing expression. International human rights groups also have complained about crackdowns on pro-democracy dissidents. A government official told the New York Times: "We fully support human rights, but we oppose initiatives by outside nation to interfere in our internal affairs."

In its 2011 report on Human Rights in Vietnam, the U.S. Department of State: “Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). The most recent National Assembly elections, held in May, were neither free nor fair, since the CPV’s Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF), an umbrella group that monitors the country’s mass organizations, vetted all candidates. Security forces reported to civilian authorities. The most significant human rights problems in the country were severe government restrictions on citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to change their government; increased measures to limit citizens’ civil liberties; and corruption in the judicial system and police. [Source: 2011 Human Rights Reports: Vietnam, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State; 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Report, May 24, 2012 ***]

Specific human rights abuses included continued police mistreatment of suspects during arrest and detention, including the use of lethal force, as well as austere prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention for political activities, and denial of the right to fair and expeditious trial. Political influence, endemic corruption, and inefficiency strongly distorted the judicial system. The government increasingly limited privacy rights and freedoms of the press, speech, assembly, movement, and association; increasingly suppressed dissent; further restricted Internet freedom; reportedly was involved in attacks against critical Web sites; and spied on dissident bloggers. Freedom of religion continued to be subject to uneven interpretation and protection, with significant problems continuing, especially at provincial and village levels. Police corruption persisted at various levels. The government maintained its prohibition of independent human rights organizations. Violence and discrimination against women as well as trafficking in persons continued, as did sexual exploitation of children and some societal discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and HIV/AIDS status. The government limited workers’ rights to form and join independent unions and inadequately enforced safe and healthy working conditions. ***

In its 2004 report on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. Department of State characterized Vietnam’s human rights record as "poor" and cited the continuation of "serious abuses." According to the report, the government has imposed restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association. Citizens are denied the right to change their government. The government continues to hold political prisoners who have expressed views at odds with government policy. Prison conditions are generally "harsh, but not unduly so given the country's level of economic development," according to the State Department assessment. Vietnam has no independent judiciary, and there is no right to a fair and speedy trial. Human rights organizations are not permitted to operate. Discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, child labor, and prostitution are serious problems. The government is attempting to address the child labor issue. [Source: Library of Congress]

Self-criticism is a common practice for acts that considered wrong but are not necessarily crimes. Participants typically confess, apologize and say they will no do it again. Sometimes this process is carried out at a re-education camp during a process that takes years.

The Vietnamese don’t complain much about human rights. People can do what they want as long as they don’t challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party. One young man told National Geographic, "For now stability is the most important thing, so we can catch our breath. I know what’s possible and what isn’t. I have the freedom to make some money, to be an artist, the freedom to choose my friends."

Shawn W. Crispin wrote in the Asia Times, “Harsh laws passed in the paranoid aftermath of the 1975 communist takeover - then aimed at flushing out remnants of the fallen US-backed regime in the south - are still on the books 30 years later, with the vague aim of maintaining "national solidarity" and "national security". Vietnamese citizens have no legal recourse to challenge the state-sponsored rights abuses they habitually endure. Moreover, the government continues to run roughshod over international laws and covenants it has signed. [Source: Shawn W Crispin, Asia Times, July 6, 2006]

See Repression under History; Bloggers; Opposition Parties; Death Penalty, Prisons; Criminal Justice System in Vietnam; Problems with the Justice System; Religious Repression in Vietnam Under Religion; Minorities and Human Rights Under See Minorities Censorship and Freedom of the Press Under Media and the Internet

Human Rights Watch World Report 2012: Vietnam

According to Human Rights Watch: “The Vietnamese government systematically suppresses freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. Independent writers, bloggers, and rights activists who question government policies, expose official corruption, or call for democratic alternatives to one-party rule are routinely subject to police harassment and intrusive surveillance, detained incommunicado for long periods of time without access to legal counsel, and sentenced to increasingly long terms in prison for violating vague national security laws. [Source:Human Rights Watch World Report 2012 ^^^]

Police frequently torture suspects to elicit confessions and, in several cases, have responded to public protests over evictions, confiscation of land, and police brutality with excessive use of force. Anti-China protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2011 were dispersed and protesters were intimidated, harassed, and in some cases detained for several days. The 11th Vietnam Communist Party Congress in January 2011 and the stage-managed National Assembly election in May determined the leadership of the party and government for the next five years. During both, there was no sign of any serious commitment to improve Vietnam’s abysmal human rights record. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung began his second term in July, enjoying strong support from the Ministry of Public Security and other hard-liners. ^^^

2011 saw a steady stream of political trials and arrests, likely spurred in part by Vietnamese government concerns that pro-democracy Arab Spring movement might reach Asia. In August anti-China protests in Hanoi were dispersed with force. Protesters were intimidated, harassed, and detained for peacefully marching near the Embassy of China and around Hoan Kiem lake. Government media, including newspapers and television stations, continually cast negative images of protesters and labeled them "reactionary." ^^^

In January and May United Nations independent experts who had visited Vietnam in 2010 published their findings. The UN special rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty issued a broadly positive report but urged the government to ratify and implement major human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. The UN special rapporteur on minority issues issued a more critical report, acknowledging some progress but raising concerns about the potential denial of religious freedom and "other serious violations of civil rights." ^^^

Dissidents in Vietnam

There are relatively few dissidents in Vietnam. Many of the most prominent ones are overseas. International human rights groups and Western governments have criticized Vietnam for jailing dissidents for peacefully expressing their views. Hanoi maintains that only lawbreakers are put behind bars.

According to the U.S. Department of State: There continued to be no precise estimates of the number of political prisoners. The government reportedly held more than 100 political detainees at year’s end, although some international observers claimed there were more (see also section 1.d., Arbitrary Arrest). Diplomatic sources reported the existence of four reeducation centers in the country holding approximately 4,000 prisoners. [Source: 2011 Human Rights Reports: Vietnam, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,U.S. Department of State; 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Report, May 24, 2012 ***]

According to Human Rights Watch: During the first 10 months of 2011, the authorities sent at least 24 rights activists to prison. All but one were convicted of "conducting propaganda against the state" (penal code article 88), "undermining national unity" (article 87), or "subversion of the administration" (article 79). These three vaguely defined articles have been employed to imprison hundreds of peaceful activists in the last decade. In addition, the police arrested at least 27 political and religious advocates in 2011. Blogger Nguyen Van Hai, known by his pen name Dieu Cay, has been held incommunicado since October 2010. Two other pro-democracy internet writers, Nguyen Ba Dang and Phan Thanh Hai, have been detained since 2010 without trial. [Source: Human Rights Watch World Report 2012 ^^^]

In a major trial in April 2011, prominent legal activist Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu was convicted of conducting propaganda against the state and sentenced to seven years in prison. The sentence was upheld on appeal. In May the People’s Court of Ben Tre convicted seven peaceful land rights activists, including Mennonite pastor Duong Kim Khai and Hoa Hao Buddhist member Tran Thi Thuy, for subversion and sentenced them to long prison terms. ^^^

See Repression of Religion, Repression of Christian, Buddhists, Repression of the Internet, Media Arrest and Imprisonment of Dissidents in Vietnam

Between March and May 2007 at least seven political activists who called for a multiparty system were put on trial and jailed for between three to eight years. [Source: Reuters, May 29, 2007]

Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, a prominent dissident, spent 18 years in prison between 1979 and 1999. Nguyen Khac Toan served three years of a 12-year sentence for sending reports about disgruntled farmers over the Internet to exiled Vietnamese democracy groups. He was found guilty of espionage. Pro-democracy activist Pham Hong Son, a trained medical doctor, was also jailed for alleged espionage. These men and Nguyen Vu Binh and Phan Van Ban were labeled political prisoners or prisoners of concern by the U.S. government. [Source: AFP, October 30, 2006]

In April 2006, Hanoi rejected a U.S. House of Representatives resolution calling for the release of "cyber dissident"Pham Hong Son, a doctor. A government statement said Son did not meet the criteria of inmates "who have corrected themselves". Son was imprisoned in 2002 for translating and posting on-line an article, "What is Democracy?" from a U.S. government web site and other writings. The Hanoi government said he broke the law, sentencing him to 13 years in jail in 2003. The term was reduced to five years on appeal. In January, Vietnam released "cyber dissident" Nguyen Khac Toan who spent four years in jail after using e-mail to contact Vietnamese exiles opposed to communist rule. [Source: Reuters, April 13, 2006]

In December 2012, Associated Press reported: Vietnamese police have detained a well-known dissident lawyer as part of a continuing government crackdown on opposition to its rule. State-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that Le Quoc Quan was taken into police custody in Hanoi for alleged tax evasion. Quan is one of Vietnam's better-known dissidents and maintains an anti-government blog. In August, he needed hospital treatment after being beaten outside his home by men he suspects were state agents. In 2007, Quan was detained for three months on his return from a U.S. government-funded fellowship in Washington. [Source: AP, December 27, 2012]

In February 2011, Voice of America reported: “ A Vietnamese human rights lawyer has been released after serving a four-year prison term for advocating a multi-party state in Vietnam. Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai told VOA's Vietnamese service Monday that he had been required to serve the full term because he refused to admit that his actions had violated any law. Dai was given a five-year sentence in May 2007 under a law that makes it illegal to spread propaganda against the state. The sentence was later reduced to four years, but Dai must still serve an additional four years of house arrest. Another lawyer, Le Thi Cong, participated with Dai in posting appeals for a multi-party state on the Internet and giving interviews to foreign news agencies. She was sentenced to three years in prison and released a year ago. [Source: AP, VOA, March 6, 2011]

Trials of Dissidents in Vietnam

Vietnam's government routinely convicts and jails its political opponents, but it generally prosecutes them under Article 88, a lesser offense that prohibits spreading "propaganda against the state."

In January 2013, Associated Press reported: “A Vietnamese court has begun the trial of 22 democracy activists on charges of plotting to overthrow the Communist government in one of the biggest such trials in years. A court official in central Phu Yen province says the defendants appeared in court. He says the trial could last five days. State-controlled media have quoted the indictment as saying the group operated under the cover of an ecotourism company. The media say the group allegedly authored documents that distorted Communist Party policies to create distrust. The government appears to be stepping up its campaign on dissidents despite criticism from Western governments. Earlier the same month, 14 activists found guilt of subversion were sentenced to terms ranging from three to 13 years. The defendants were linked to Viet Tan, a Vietnamese group based in the United States. [Source: Associated Press, January 27, 2013]

In July 2009, AFP reported: “Six Vietnamese dissidents arrested during the latest wave of arrests of human rights activists, will be prosecuted for "propaganda" against the regime, a government official said. “The state prosecutor's office will try them for "the crime of propaganda against the socialist republic of Vietnam ... for having propagandised against, distorted and humiliated the people's administration", Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Dung said. He added that the charges also include "the making, storing and circulation of documents with content" against the republic, but gave no further details. [Source: AFP, July 19, 2009]

Among those to be tried is the writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, a leader in pro-democracy group Bloc 8406. Founded on April 8, 2006 the group calls for political pluralism in Vietnam. Nghia's arrest last year was denounced by dissidents outside the country. The California-based Viet Tan highlighted at the time that his detention came during a period of heightened political tension in Hanoi. Nghia's name had appeared on a petition circulating on the Internet calling on Vietnam to refute the legality of a 1958 letter by then Prime Minister of North Vietnam, Pham Van Dong, recognising Chinese sovereignty in the South China Sea including the archipelagos of the Spratley and Paracel islands.

Vietnamese Court Convicts Dissident of Subversion

In December 2009, Associated Press reported: A Vietnamese court convicted a former army officer who had pressed for democratic reforms of subversion Monday and sentenced him to 5.5 years in prison as Vietnam stepped up its efforts to crack down on dissent. Tran Anh Kim, 60, was accused of "working to overthrow the state" by joining the Democratic Party of Vietnam, publishing pro-democracy articles on the Internet, and joining Bloc 8406, an organization that promotes a multiparty state. Kim could have faced the death penalty, but prosecutors sought a lenient sentence, citing his distinguished military record and cooperative attitude.The former lieutenant colonel is the first in a group of five defendants to be put on trial by Vietnam's communist government, which does not accept challenges to its one-party rule. They were indicted last week under Article 79 of Vietnam's criminal code, which carries sentences ranging from 12 years to life in prison or death by firing squad. [Source: AP, December 28 2009]

As the proceedings began, Kim said he had simply stood up for his beliefs. "I joined the Democratic Party of Vietnam and Bloc 8406 to fight for democratic freedom and human rights for the Vietnamese nation through peaceful dialogue and nonviolent means," Kim said. His writings, Kim said, had been part of a campaign against government corruption. "I am a person of merit," he said. "I did not commit crimes." Kim and the others were originally charged under Article 88. Many diplomats believe the government decided to seek tougher charges as part of a crackdown in advance of the 2011 Communist Party Congress.

Kim joined North Vietnam's revolutionary army in 1966, at the age of 16. He earned 11 medals, including three for his service in the Vietnam War, and rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant colonel. He became deputy chief of the Thai Binh town military command but lost that post after being convicted of financial mismanagement in 1991. He was jailed for two years, expelled from the Communist Party in 1992 and dismissed from the Army in 1994.

In 2006, prosecutors say, he joined the Democratic Party of Vietnam, an outlawed group that the government considers a "reactionary" organization. They say he became the head of the party's organization in northern Vietnam. In June, security police thwarted Kim's effort to hang a sign at his house saying "Office of the Democratic Party of Vietnam."

Kim's trial comes less than a month before the trial of Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Le Thang Long. Dinh is a well-known human rights lawyer and Trung recently studied engineering in Paris. Thuc and Long are Ho Chi Minh City businessmen.

Vietnam Jails 22 Activists for Subversion

In February 2013, AFP reported: “Vietnam sentenced 22 activists to lengthy jail terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, a defence lawyer said, after one of the country's largest subversion trials for years. The harsh punishments are part of an escalating crackdown on dissent by the communist regime, which has triggered growing international concern. The defendants were convicted of trying to overthrow the government -- a charge which rights groups say is routinely laid against peaceful activists. [Source: AFP, February 4, 2013]

“The group's 65-year-old "ringleader" Phan Van Thu received a life sentence, while the other 21 defendants were given between 10 and 17 years followed by up to five years' house arrest, lawyer Nguyen Huong Que told AFP. "Most of the defendants admitted their crime of aiming to overthrow the people's administration," said the lawyer, who was appointed by the court to defend the accused at the week-long trial in the central province of Phu Yen. "The sentences are adequate for their crimes," he added.

The 22 were accused of running a "reactionary" group disguised as an eco-tourism operator, which produced documents "slandering" the regime and distorting its guidelines and policies, according to state media. In another mass trial last month, Vietnam jailed 13 activists -- including Catholics, bloggers and students -- a move criticised by the United States as part of a "disturbing" trend in the authoritarian state. Last week Hanoi deported an American pro-democracy activist of Vietnamese origin after detaining him for nine months on charges of attempting to overthrow the state. In December Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered a new crackdown on online dissent, telling authorities to fight against anyone using the Internet to "defame and spread propaganda against the party and state".

Dozens of activists have been jailed since Vietnam -- a one-party state that forbids political debate -- began a new crackdown on free expression in late 2009. According to HRW, Vietnam jailed at least 33 activists in 2012 based on vaguely defined articles in its penal code that criminalise the exercise of civil and political rights. "Authorities arbitrarily arrest activists, hold them incommunicado for long periods without access to legal counsel or family visits, subject them to torture, and prosecute them in politically pliant courts that mete out long prison sentences," the group said in its recent annual report.

Vietnam Dissident Sentenced to 30 Months in Jail

In October 2013, Le Quoc Quan, a U.S.-trained lawyer and well-known dissident, was sentenced by a Vietnamese court to 30 months in jail after finding him guilty on tax evasion charges. Chris Brummitt of Associated Press: The verdict against Le Quoc Quan was immediately criticized by the United States, which is pressing Vietnam's Communist leaders to loosen restrictions on those advocating democracy and human rights. Washington, along with human rights groups and other observers, had considered the charges against Quan to be politically motivated. Quan, who maintained a popular blog that highlighted human rights abuses and other issues off-limits to the state media, proclaimed his innocence throughout the one-day trial. Hundreds of his supporters braved an intense security crackdown to rally in the normally sleepy city during the trial. [Source: Chris Brummitt, Associated Press, October 2, 2013]

Presiding Judge Le Thi Hop said Quan was found guilty of evading corporate income tax of $30,000 in relation to a consultancy he had headed before his arrest last December in Hanoi. He was also fined $60,000. The maximum penalty Quan could have received was seven years. "I have long been denouncing and fighting against corruption, bureaucracy and the stagnation that is doing harm to this country," Quan said. "To be frank, I was prosecuted because I love this country," he said before the audio and video feed into a side-room where a small number of reporters and diplomats were allowed to listen to proceedings was briefly cut off.

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said the use of tax laws "to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views is disturbing" and called on the government to "release all prisoners of conscience and allow Vietnamese to peacefully express their political views."

Quan, in his early 40s, was detained in 2007 for three months on his return from a U.S. government-funded fellowship in Washington. He kept up his activism, meeting with reporters and diplomats, and taking part in peaceful protests against Chinese sovereignty claims over parts of the South China Sea in 2011. He is a Roman Catholic and drew some of his support from the church, which has difficult relations with the Hanoi government because of its social activism.

In an interview with The Associated Press last September, Quan said he was under constant surveillance and that he, his family and staff received frequent warnings and pressure from authorities. But he pledged to keep speaking out against the government and in favor of multi-party democracy and freedom of speech and religion.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN VIETNAM

In the early 2000s, many Vietnamese women and children have been trafficked and forced to work in the sex industry in Asia especially China, Cambodia and Taiwan. No precise figure is available but Vietnamese reports said at least 60,000 Vietnamese women and children have been trafficked over the past decade.[Source: Agence France Presse, April 1st, 2006]

Trafficking in women in Vietnam is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Most Vietnamese women and children who fall victim to trafficking are sent to neighbouring China or Cambodia for arranged marriages or prostitution.

Trafficking of Women in Vietnam

Andrew Lam of the Pacific News Service, “While visiting Saigon I asked a group of well-educated young women for their thoughts on Vietnamese women being sold abroad. Their answers were surprisingly tempered. "Not everyone is going to end up as a prostitute or badly treated by her husband," said Tuyen Nguyen, a 19-year-old who is attending college and planning to be a doctor. "I know this one girl who came back wealthy. It's true, she's one of the lucky ones, but still, it's a better chance than staying home." [Source: Andrew Lam, Pacific News Service, July 20, 2005 <>]

“Some observers estimate that as many as 400,000 Vietnamese women and children have been trafficked overseas, most since the end of the Cold War. That's around 10 percent of trafficked women and children worldwide. They are smuggled to Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Czech Republic -- and, to a lesser extent, the United States -- for commercial sexual exploitation. "Still, if your parents and siblings are starving, you've got to do something," observed Thuy Le, a young woman in her mid-20s. "It's the right thing to do." "It's the girl in the countryside who would do this kind of thing," said another woman, a publicist for a cosmetic company. "No one in the city would go. I mean, it's hard work in the rice field. Besides, who is to say their Vietnamese husbands won't beat them just like their Korean or Taiwanese one?" Her friends murmured in agreement. <>

“Unfortunately, not all trafficked women end up in real marriages, even if their paperwork says so. According to Huy Phan, who is part of a group of Vietnamese Americans trying to help victims of trafficking, "the scheme is, the brothel or mafia finances a man to go to Vietnam to buy a wife. But the marriage is a ruse, and the girl ends up as a prostitute or indentured servant when she gets to Taiwan. It's a way to legalize trafficking." In June, the U.S. State Department released the "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report." Vietnam was classified as a "tier two" country, meaning that the government of Vietnam, according to the report, makes some effort to eliminate the problem but "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking." <>

In March 2004, a Taiwanese tried to sell three young Vietnamese women on E-bay. The starting bid was $5,400. Vietnamese living abroad protested, and E-Bay quickly pulled the auction page. But the language used on that page, along with the images of the three young, hapless women smiling to the camera, bespoke of modern-day slavery: "Products will be delivered only to Taiwan," the page said. A typical trafficking scenario in Saigon goes something like this: A group of men come in from a foreign country, Taiwan or Korea, perhaps, and are chauffeured to a designated bar where young women and teenage girls await. The girls are lined up. The men pick and choose their brides, and pay around $5,000 to $10,000 dollars depending on the "quality" of the bride, which depends largely on whether she is a virgin. Soon these so-called brides are taken to unknown destinies. Their families back in the rural areas receive around $500 dollars for the sale. The rest goes to middlemen and to grease the legal machine. <>

“Girls and women may also be promised jobs in Cambodia, Laos or China, only to end up as sex slaves once they cross the border. Recent raids in Cambodian brothels came up with Vietnamese girls as young as 5 years old. Young boys, too, are bought, and are highly prized in China, especially for families that have no children and want to adopt. Many problems help perpetuate this form of exploitation. First are rising population pressures. There are now 82 million people in Vietnam. Two out of three Vietnamese are under 35, and there are an estimated 1.5 million abortions each year. The rural-urban gap is widening. Peasants trying to survive become easy prey. <>

“Second is corruption. Government officials can be bribed to look the other way or, worse, actively assist the sale of these women by stamping their exit visas. Third, and most important, Vietnamese people themselves have developed a lackadaisical attitude about the plight of trafficked women. After all, when there are approximately half a million prostitutes in Vietnam trying to make ends meet, who cares if a few hundred thousand more are plying their trade abroad? Thien-Tam Tran, another Vietnamese American activist, remembers a scene in the airport in Taipei, Taiwan. Three Vietnamese girls were waiting to be taken away by gangsters. "I asked them if they wanted help but they wouldn't talk. They were very afraid. When the gangsters showed up the girls finally realized what would happen to them and started to weep. One girl, about 17, held onto me. But it was too late." <>

“In Vietnam, self-sacrifice is still perceived as the highest Confucian virtue, but few seem to notice that to sell or induce one's own offspring into slavery is an absolute evil -- and highly un-Confucian. "Some women and girls are raped by their captors, husband, and/or male members of the family," Tran notes sadly. Unless human rights become a real dialogue in Vietnam and the urban rural gap is seriously addressed, the nation seems fated to play a role that many activists working against human trafficking refer to as "a supply country." <>

See Prostitution, Marriage, Women in Vietnam

More than 10,000 Vietnamese Women and Children Sold to China

In 2001, Associated Press reported: “About 10,400 Vietnamese women have been sold to China to be wives of Chinese men or to work as maids or prostitutes, a state-controlled newspaper reported on Monday. Of the total, 1,829 women have escaped back to Vietnam with 200 children fathered by Chinese, the Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper quoted a Ministry of Public Security report as saying. [Source: Associated Press, May 14, 2001 *-*]

“It said Vietnamese boys have also been sold to China recently, adding that authorities are investigating the motive of the sales. The human traffickers normally use tourist travel documents or paths across the land border to take women and children to China, it said. The newspaper did not specify a time period for the trafficking figure, but it apparently applied to the period since the two countries restored diplomatic relations in 1991 following a brief but bloody border war in 1979. *-*

“Since normalization, there has been increased trade as well as visits by villagers across the border. Men in southern China who have difficulty marrying local women have looked to Vietnam for wives. Vietnamese wives are also popular among Taiwanese men and Vietnamese Americans. In Ho Chi Minh City alone, more than 10,000 Vietnamese women have married foreigners in the past few years, officials say. Most of the foreign grooms are Taiwanese or Vietnamese Americans. Vietnamese police have broken up several women trafficking rings in recent years. *-*

People Arrested for Human Trafficking in Vietnam

In December 2009, Associated Press reported: “Four people will be prosecuted for trafficking 400 women sent to Malaysia and other Asian countries, police said. The trafficking ring was uncovered late last year in Ho Chi Minh city when police detained its alleged leader, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Yen, 53, and three of her associates after they helped a woman check in for a flight to Malaysia. Most of the trafficked women were from Tay Ninh and other Mekong Delta provinces, said a provincial police officer, who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The officer said the alleged traffickers received $500 for each woman it sent overseas and an additional $1,000 for each one that found a foreign spouse. Most of the 400 trafficked women were sent to Malaysia, the officer said, but some were also brought to Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. About 80 women found husbands in Malaysia and 223 others came back to Vietnam. The whereabouts of nearly 100 others remain unknown, he said, adding some may have been forced into prostitution. [Source: AP, December 18, 2009]

In April 2006, AFP reported: “Police in southern Vietnam say they have arrested a Taiwanese man accused of trafficking women to Malaysia . Tsai I Hsien, 45, was arrested in Tien Giang province, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Ho Chi Minh city on Friday, a provincial investigative police told AFP. According to state media, Hsien's Vietnamese wife, 34-year-old alleged ring leader Tran Thi My Phuong, and seven other people have been arrested since the beginning of the week in Ho Chi Minh city. Several dozen young women from rural areas believed they would be taken to Malaysia for high-paid jobs, but were in fact destined for brothels, the online VnExpress newspaper said. When police first raided the traffickers, many of the women were about to be taken out of the country. Hsien admitted to police that he had already successfully taken several women to Malaysia. Last month, a court in southern Vietnam handed down jail sentences of six and 12 years to two people for trafficking women to Malaysia. [Source: Agence France Presse, April 1st, 2006]

In February 2006, Associated Press reported: A court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced two women to prison for smuggling 16 women to Malaysia and other countries in the region and forcing them to work as prostitutes, state-controlled media reported. Nguyen Thi My Nga and Nguyen Thi Thuy Dung were given 12 years and six years in prison respectively at the one-day trial, the Nong Nghiep newspaper said. They were convicted of smuggling the women to Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia between June 2002 until January 2003, when the case was uncovered after women informed their families in Vietnam, the newspaper said. The women were originally promised work as waitresses at restaurants with a monthly salary of $800 to $1 000 (about R5 000 to R6 000) in Malaysia, but they were forced to work in brothels instead, it said. The newspaper said the brothel operators confiscated all the money paid by clients to the women, who got between $47 to $145 a visit. [Source: The Associated Press - February 21, 2006]

In March 2006, Prvada reported: “Police in southern Vietnam have arrested seven people accused of selling more than 100 Vietnamese women to brothels in Malaysia , state media reported. The seven were taken into police custody Monday after raids in Ho Chi Minh City and southern Tay Ninh province, the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper said. The trafficking scheme was uncovered in January when two of the women, who had returned home after their families paid off the brothel, reported the establishment to police, the paper said. The women told police that the alleged traffickers had promised to find jobs or marriages for the women in Malaysia , but instead they were sold into prostitution, according to the newspaper. The traffickers sold more than 100 women to brothels in Malaysia over a two-year period, it said. [Source: Pravda, March 29, 2006]

In January 2007, News.com.au reported: “Vietnamese police have arrested a man who allegedly trafficked 23 females to China after authorities received a tip-off from one teenager who escaped back into Vietnam, a news report said today. The Hanoi man, identified as Nguyen Anh Tuan, allegedly befriended the women through internet chatrooms, then enticed them to travel to northern border areas from where they were sent to China, the Than Nien daily said. Since 2005, Tuan and his accomplices had trafficked 23 females, including seven teenagers, to China, before one of them, a 17-year-old girl from northern Ha Nam province, escaped and alerted police back home, the report said. Vietnamese and Chinese police were working to bring home the other females. The Nhan Dan daily, citing police and border guard figures, meanwhile reported that 323 human trafficking cases were discovered in Vietnam in 2007, an increase of more than 40 percent on the previous year. [Source: News.com.au - January 5, 2007.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

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