HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- Key pro-democracy activists, including Christians, remained jailed or under house arrest across Vietnam Thursday, November 16, as the government quelled dissent ahead of the arrival of American President George W. Bush, dissidents said.
Among those detained in a fresh round of arrests was lawyer "Le Thi Cong Nhan, spokeswoman of the Vietnam Progression Party," said officials of the International Movement for Democracy and Human Rights in Vietnam (IMDHR)
In an open letter obtained by BosNewsLife, the group said she has been "detained inside her home since November 14 in Hanoi," where Bushâ€™s was to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
"Nhanâ€™s home gate had been locked up by police and no key has been given to her," the group claimed.
It said 30 plain-clothed police "armed with concealed weapons and high-tech communication equipments" were standing "in front and around her home and in the neighborhood to strictly monitor her and her family."
She and family members were allegedly prohibited "to go out or contact anybody." The claims could not be independently confirmed.
However several human rights investigators and Christians have reported similar house arrests and harassments of other activists and Christian believers, including in Hanoi and Vietnam's Central Highlands.
Actions carried out in recent days by Vietnamese security forces included "disconnecting mobile phone lines, unlawful phone line interceptions, home searches without court warrants, lengthy police interrogations [and] confiscations of activistsâ€™ personal computers and personal belongings," said the IMDHR group.
Well-known Christian dissidents allegedly harassed by Vietnamese police include Catholic Priests Nguyen Van Ly and Phan Van Lo as well as Mennonite Pastors Nguyen Hong Quang and Nguyen Duc Chinh and "countless others," IMDHR officials said.
The group urged US Congress representatives to use their influence and help "free" Le Thi Cong Nhan and other detained activists at a time when the world will closely monitor the APEC meeting this week.
Several dissents and human rights groups have criticized the US decision this week to remove Vietnam from the State Department's List of 'Countries of Particular Concern' regarding religious freedom violations. Vietnam's Communist government has denied human rights abuses and says it even allowed several hous churches to oficially register themselves. (With reports from Vietnam. Stay with BosNewsLife for the other story behind the APEC world headlines).
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