~ Le ViÍt Nam, aujourd'hui. ~
The Vietnam News

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Vietnam dissident urges political action

HANOI - A prominent Vietnamese dissident has called for other activists in the country to challenge the ruling Communist Party.
``I am going to organise -- and this is a challenge to the government -- a meeting of former political prisoners in Vietnam,'' said Nguyen Dan Que, a 57-year-old medical doctor and former long-term political prisoner.

``We, with other people, want to agitate for changing a divided Vietnam... Myself and other activists are acting along with our people,'' he added in a recent interview.
But Que, freed in an amnesty last year, said he was unable to contact other dissidents. On May 11, he released a communique through the Internet calling for freedom, democracy and an end to human rights abuses in Vietnam.
His telephone was cut soon after and a document seen by Reuters showed that on June 9 the Police Ministry ordered the post office to cancel his Internet account. His mail was being intercepted, he added.

``I am actually... completely isolated from the outside world,'' said Que, who spent 20 of the last 22 years in jails where he says he suffered torture, forced labour and a lack of food and medicines.
A top ideologue, Dao Duy Quat, deputy head of the party's powerful Ideology and Culture Commission, said on Monday the party would never accept political pluralism.

Hanoi also rejects charges it detains and jails people for the peaceful expression of political or religious views. Que has previously been classified as a common criminal because ``anti-socialist'' activities are a crime in Vietnam.
Que urged diplomats and other foreigners to visit dissidents, saying this would help guarantee their safety if they spoke out.
He said his house in the former Saigon was under constant surveillance, while his wife, daughter, son-in-law and niece had been repeatedly questioned by police.

Que, a former Noble Peace Prize nominee and probably the only member in Vietnam of rights group Amnesty International, stressed that in the new post-Cold War world order the country needed to change. ``But I don't support violence... After all the wars we don't want to spill one drop of blood,'' he said.

Reuters - August 06, 1999.