Vietnam: priest condemns forced confessions on national media

@ 25 August 2009 04:56 AM
{nl}A Catholic priest has denounced a film screened on national television{nl}in which five pro-democracy activists were shown saying that they had{nl}been trying to overthrow the Vietnamese state. 700 state newspapers and{nl}other media outlets simultaneously reported the event the next day.

Tran{nl}Huynh Duy Thuc, Le Cong Dinh, Le Thang Long, Nguyen Tien Trung and Tran{nl}Anh Kim were shown bending their heads, admitting their sins against{nl}the Vietnamese State, and appealing for lenient treatment.

Fr{nl}Peter Phan Van Loi of Hue Archdiocese told Radio Free Asia that such{nl}political confessions were "almost always obtained under duress".

He{nl}said he believed the prisoners had been beaten. “A defendant can only{nl}plead guilty or not guilty during a court upholding a fair and{nl}legitimate proceeding,” he concluded.

Fr Peter Phan himself is{nl}at possible risk of arrest for suspected links to a group including{nl}veteran democracy activists. He and some others “were identified in the{nl}police report and indictment for follow-up investigation,” Human Rights{nl}Watch stated in a report on 19 August.

Human Rights Watch and{nl}other rights organizations have demanded the government to immediate{nl}release of the democracy activists. At least 24 dissidents have been{nl}jailed since July, according to state media.

{nl} Independent Catholic News