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Rights group documents extrajudicial harassment in Vietnam

BANGKOK (AP) – More than 170 activists have been put under house arrest, blocked from travelling and sometimes assaulted by agents of the Vietnamese government in a little-noticed campaign to silence its critics, a human rights group said yesterday.

The tactics to obstruct people’s movement are “often overlooked” in reporting on the communist government’s imprisonment of dissidents and other “suppression of fundamental liberties”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report.

The group said it found more than 170 people who were subject to travel bans and other pressure from 2004 to last year. They included Nguyen Tuong Thuy, 72, an army veteran who took up the cause of political prisoners.

Nguyen Tuong Thuy was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison on a charge of “making, storing, disseminating, or propagandising” anti-state information, HRW said.

The report cited his descriptions of how authorities violated the rights of other activists, including being fired from jobs, evicted from rented homes, physical assaults, theft, vandalism of their homes and interrogations and beatings inside police stations.

Vietnam has said it is fully committed to protecting human rights, but government comment on the new report was not immediately available yesterday.