Hanoi – A legal activist jailed in April said Monday on the eve of his appeal that he was ready to sacrifice himself for his country but was afraid Vietnam would fall under the control of the ‘arch-criminal Beijing’ while he serves his sentence.
In a letter released to local media via his wife, human rights lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu said he was not guilty of the charges of propagandizing against the state, which put him in jail.
‘During the time I am away from family and friends, what I am most worried about is that our country falls under the control of arch-criminal Beijing and this makes my heart break,’ he said without going into specifics about the nature of the threat he saw from China.
The 53-year-old lawyer, sentenced to seven years in prison and three years of parole, tried to sue Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to stop Chinese-run bauxite mines in the Central Highlands, but the suit was dismissed. The legal challenge was not mentioned in the indictment.
Vu represented a variety of defendants, including Catholic parishioners who were arrested for taking part in a funeral at a cemetery located on land claimed by the government. Vu also asked to recognize the ‘martyr’ status of soldiers who died during an attack by the Chinese on the Paracel Islands in 1974.
‘All my work is non-profit and without private motive,’ Vu said. ‘As a result, a political regime which is facing many internal dangers has taken revenge on me, and the result is a political trial.’
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said he doubted the appeals court would reduce Vu’s sentence.
‘The government is trying to make an example of him, to show the people that no matter how well-connected you are, if you demand your rights and challenge the government, there will be serious consequences,’ Robertson said.