How many more will not be set free? How many POWs died after we left South East Asia?
Danny "Greasy" Belcher, Executive Director
Task Force Omega of KY Inc.
Infantry Sgt. Vietnam 68-69
D Troop 7th Sqdn. 1st Air Cav.
See below (article, amnesty Inter Press release and Radio Australai news)
This leaves about 200 Montagnards still in prison (that we know about). Many will not survive.
7000 prisoners to be released
27 April 2005
VIETNAM will free 7,751 prisoners, including political prisoners and 19 foreigners, to mark the 30th anniversary this weekend of the end of the Vietnam War, the police have announced.
President Tran Duc Luong had ordered the amnesty to mark the anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the former capital of the US-backed South Vietnamese regime, to communist forces on April 30, 1975, police vice minister Le The Tiem said.
Among those to be freed by the communist state were political prisoner Pham Minh Tri, jailed for "propaganda against the Vietnamese state and sabotage of national unity", Tiem said.
Also to be freed were Dinh Van Be, jailed for "treachery", and Ama Duy, who was imprisoned for "organising illegal departures" of Vietnamese abroad.
Tiem gave no details of the cases or when the prisoners would be freed.
Another 13 people behind bars for "public disorder" would also walk free, including eight members of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands where thousands of mainly Christian Montagnards staged protests last year against the confiscation of their ancestral lands and religious persecution.
The protests provoked a brutal response.
The foreigners to be released include six Chinese, four Laotians, three Cambodians, two Canadians, two Australians, a Netherlands national and an American, Tiem said.
He did not give their names or the nature of accusations against them.
A European diplomat, citing government sources, said that Vietnam would release six political prisoners, including the Reverend Pham Ngoc Lien, 64, a member of a Christian congregation from the Central Highlands.
It was unclear whether the six mentioned by the diplomat were part of the number Tiem announced Wednesday.
In late January the state gave amnesty to 8,325 prisoners to mark the new year starting on February 8, including six who had been jailed for "violating national security".
The six included notable Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly and political dissident Nguyen Dan Que.
Critics have long said Vietnam must do a lot more than occasional prisoner releases to shore up religious and political freedoms.
Human rights groups say released prisoners are rarely allowed to live without fear of further intimidation.
The United States has labelled Vietnam among the world's worst offenders in regards to religious freedoms.
ABC Radio Australia
[This is the print version of story]
Radio Australia - News - Vietnam announces mass amnesty
Last Updated 28/04/2005, 05:01:26
An amnesty has been announced in Vietnam for more than 7,750 prisoners to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Among those to be freed to mark the April 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon to communist forces are a number of political prisoners and 19 foreigners, including two Australians.
The names of the foreigners being amnestied have not been released.
Half of the 16 political prisoners being freed are members of ethnic minority groups from the country's restive Central Highlands.
It is the second such amnesty this year in Vietnam.
AI Index: ASA 41/011/2005 (Public)
News Service No: 109
26 April 2005
Viet Nam: Release all prisoners of conscience immediately
Amnesty International warmly welcomes reports that two prisoners of conscience will soon be released as part of an amnesty for more than 7500 prisoners. The amnesty marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Viet Nam War on 30 April.
Among those to be released are Reverend Pham Ngoc Lien, a 63-year-old member of the Catholic Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix (CMC), who has spent the last 18 years in prison, and Le Thi Hong Lien, a young woman teacher for the Mennonite Christian Church, who has reportedly suffered beatings and abuse during 11 months of imprisonment .
"The anticipated release of these two people, both in poor health, is long overdue and a welcome, positive step," Amnesty International said. "However, we once again call for the Vietnamese authorities to release all prisoners of conscience and to stop incarcerating political and religious activists for exercising their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression, association and religion".
"Unless substantive changes are made to the law, all Vietnamese people remain at risk of arrest simply for peacefully expressing their political and religious beliefs."
"Despite releasing these prisoners of conscience, the Vietnamese authorities are continuing to flout domestic and international law by using security legislation to imprison people for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and religion, despite guarantees in the Vietnamese Constitution and international human rights law. It is time for the authorities to take responsibility for upholding and protecting the human rights of everyone."
Reverend Pham Ngoc Lien (Tri) (63), is a member of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix (CMC), who has been imprisoned for the last 18 years. He was among a group of 23 Roman Catholic monks and priests arrested in May 1987 during raids on Thu Duc monastery, near Ho Chi Minh City, for holding training courses and distributing religious books without government permission. In October 1987, he was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment plus five years' house arrest on release under national security legislation for "conducting propaganda to oppose the socialist regime and undermine the policy of solidarity". The other 22 monks arrested were also sentenced to between four years and life imprisonment; all have been released except for Reverend Pham Ngoc Lien (Tri) and Brother Nguyen Thien Phung (Huan), who have been adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International for many years.To Amnesty International's knowledge, Brother Nguyen Thien Phung is not included in the current amnesty and will remain in Z30A prison, Dong Nai province.
Le Thi Hong Lien , 21, a teacher for the Vietnamese Mennonite Christian Church, was arrested in June 2004 along with a number of other members of the Mennonite community. On 12 November, she was sentenced to 12 months in prison on charges of "resisting a person performing official duty" for her role in a protest. Members of the Mennonite Church, and other religious organizations that are not sanctioned by the state, have suffered official harassment and imprisonment for many years. Le Thi Hong Lien had taken part in a number of demonstrations against the government's policies on religion, and had been arrested many times. She is reported to have been subjected to beatings and abuse during her imprisonment, resulting in a serious deterioration in her physical and mental health. In February she was transferred to Bien Hoa Mental Hospital under the charge of prison guards.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: www.amnesty.org
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