About Lê Quốc Quân

A lawyer by training, Mr. Le Quoc Quan has worked for the past seven years as a local governance consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, UNDP, and the Swedish International Development Agency. An active participant in Vietnam's struggle for democracy, he has been vocal in his defense of religious freedom and political pluralism, both as a law student and legal advocate, and in his writings for the BBC and several Vietnamese newspapers. He is founder of Vietnam Solutions, a firm that provides consulting services on local governance, poverty reduction, and grassroots democracy for development projects in Vietnam. During his fellowship, Mr. Quan is examined the role of civil society in countries that have made a successful democratic transition. He planned to write an article on how civil society can contribute to democracy in Vietnam. March 8, 2007 he was arrested by the communist authorities and subsequently charged with attempting to overthrow the people's government. At this time, Le Quoc Quan is being held at detention camp B14 of the Ministry of Public Security in Hanoi.

March 18, 2007

Vietnam Human Rights

18 March 2007

According to the latest U.S. human rights report, Vietnam's record remains unsatisfactory. Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by the Communist Party of Vietnam where citizens cannot change their government.

Vietnamese authorities continue to exert control over the press and the Internet. The law requires journalists to pay damages to individuals or organizations harmed as a result of their reporting, even if the reports are true. As a result, there is less investigative reporting. The government forbids direct access to the Internet through foreign Internet Service Providers. Domestic service providers are required to store information transmitted on the Internet for at least fifteen days and must allow public security agents to monitor Internet activities.
Political opposition movements in Vietnam are officially prohibited and activists continue to be arrested. In the past year, police have detained members of the People's Democracy Party of Vietnam, which advocates peaceful political change. Several members of the pro-democracy group the 8-4-0-6 Bloc have also been detained. Father Nguyen Van Ly and Lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan have been arrested and are being charged under Article Eighty-Eight for disseminating propaganda against the state. There are also confirmed reports that former National Endowment for Democracy fellow Le Quoc Quan was detained on March 9th. Prominent political activists such as Do Nam Hai, Pham Hong Son, and Nguyen Dan Que face repeated harassment for their political activities.

An area that has seen some improvement is respect for religious freedom. According to the U.S. State Department human rights report, "conditions for most religious believers were markedly improved from previous years; in particular, hundreds of Protestant congregations were legalized throughout the country." Nevertheless, the 2005 government framework on religion continues to limit education, medical, and charitable work by religious groups.

The United States, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is recommitting itself to stand with those courageous men and women who struggle for their freedom and their rights. And the U.S. is recommitting itself to call every government to account that still treats the basic rights of its citizens as options rather than, in President Bush's words, the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.

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