Terror charge is baseless propaganda: Viet Tan

Protests over the fish kill disaster appear to have worried government officials. Photo courtesy Reuters.

Protests over the fish kill disaster appear to have worried government officials. Photo courtesy Reuters.

The US based Vietnam Reform party, Viet Tan, has accused the Vietnamese government of regurgitating baseless propaganda following Hanoi’s latest charge that the group is a terrorist organisation.

It challenged the Vietnamese government to publish the full range of its activities in state media so the Vietnamese public could decide for itself whether it was a threat.

In a statement posted on its website, Viet Tan said it only promoted non-violent change in Vietnam and backed efforts to improve social justice and human rights.

The public security ministry last week issued its most threatening warning so far to Viet Tan and its supporters, in a statement carried widely on state media.

It described the California based group as a terrorist organisation that had, in the past, recruited and trained agents to use weapons and explosives, and to take part in kidnaps and murder.

It said Viet Tan continued to infiltrate operatives into Vietnam to organise protests against the government and to provoke violence.

Mass demonstration

The Communist authorities have long condemned the activities of the group, which was founded in the early 1980s by Vietnamese exiles who came to the US after the fall of Saigon.

The government has toughened its repression of independent bloggers and civil society activists this year and has intermittently accused government critics of association with anti-state groups based overseas.

The growing effectiveness of protest movements, particularly the mass demonstrations over the Formosa environmental disaster, may have encouraged the authorities to clamp down even harder.

The public security ministry said that anyone who received sponsorship or training from Viet Tan, or who operated under its instructions, would be an accomplice in terrorism and dealt with in accordance with Vietnamese law.

In a statement, Viet Tan stressed its commitment to promoting social justice and human rights through non-violent means.

“We challenge the Vietnamese authorities to publish on state media the full range of Viet Tan’s activities to empower activists, promote internet freedom, and defend basic rights—and let the people of Vietnam decide whether Viet Tan is a threat,” said the statement.

The US government has said in the past that there is no evidence that Viet Tan is involved in terrorism.

Three members of Viet Tan are currently serving long prison sentences in Vietnam for blogging and community organising.

“No amount of propaganda can shift attention from Hanoi’s human rights abuses and repression of peaceful political opposition,” said the Viet Tan statement.