Unending Punishment: Political Repression in Vietnam

Unending Punishment: Political Repression in VietnamOn July 30, 2012, the mother of political prisoner Ta Phong Tan burned herself to death at a government building in despair over her daughter’s imprisonment. This is the fifth anniversary of her death. This is what life is like as a prisoner of conscience in Vietnam: Isolation. Withholding of newspapers and letters from family,…

Two Veterans, Three Countries, Much Damage

Two Veterans, Three Countries, Much DamageMay 31 is Memorial Day in the US, something that as a veteran I still think of as a time for mattresses and auto sales. But there are other veterans besides those in the US who are equally as battle-scarred.  I have met a couple – Vietnam War veterans from China and Thailand.  One was…

Waiting for Obama

Waiting for ObamaI've been a freelance writer and journalist living in Ho Chi Minh City for six years, totally without license or permission. Prior to the visit this week of President Barack Obama, the folks at the US Consulate urged me to notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of this fact and I did. But I never…

Shortage of Women in Southeast Asian Politics

Shortage of Women in Southeast Asian PoliticsOf the 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting this week in the California with President Barack Obama, not a single one is a woman. Although across Southeast Asia leadership by women is not new given the region’s legacy of dynastic politics, leadership at the top levels is missing.  There has been…

Activists beaten, robbed by paramilitaries in Vietnam

Activists beaten, robbed by paramilitaries in VietnamVietnam continues to pay a disheartening lack of attention to human rights violations despite continuing promises that the situation would improve with passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which contains language covering abuses, as the ordeal of a Hanoi-based human rights lawyer and his associates demonstrates. On Dec. 6, Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer…

TPP May Not Help Rights Activists in Vietnam

TPP May Not Help Rights Activists in VietnamAlthough the government of Vietnam has agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Obama administration in Washington has advocated as a vehicle to improve human rights in member countries, there is precious little evidence of it on the ground in Vietnam. Many of Vietnam’s greatest intellects, independent voices, and enduring spirits remain in jail…

An Eyewitness to Global Refugee Crises

An Eyewitness to Global Refugee CrisesSuddenly the war in Vietnam in back on people’s lips here in Europe, more than 40 years after it ended. “This is the worst crisis since Vietnam,” people are saying as the migrant inflow from the Middle East continues at full speed, with horrific pictures on the TV news of toddlers dying, usually by drowning,…

Religion and Vietnam’s Party State

Religion and Vietnam’s Party StateVietnam’s state supervision of religion is considerably less oppressive than it was during the years of "building socialism" and propagating atheism as the approved belief system.  But that doesn’t mean free by any means. Hanoi's authoritarian regime insists that it has no issue with religious practice per se.  What bothers the government are efforts to…

On Rights, US, Viets Still Talk Past Each Other

On Rights, US, Viets Still Talk Past Each OtherHuman rights – chiefly political and religious freedoms – have been on the American agenda since Washington and Hanoi resumed direct dialogue about a quarter of a century ago. Though bilateral ties have grown vastly broader, US prodding on civil liberties still piques Vietnam’s one-party regime.  Skepticism that Vietnam would live up to labor rights…

How Asia’s Governments Spy on Their Citizens

How Asia’s Governments Spy on Their CitizensIf you live in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam and you are an activist or a journalist, the government probably knows a lot more about the inside of your computer than you think, and more than you want it to. On July 5, unknown hackers broke into the computers a shadowy company based in Italy…
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