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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 08:14 GMT
Vietnam detains rights lawyers
By Bill Hayton
BBC News, Hanoi

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Police in Vietnam have detained two lawyers who organised the country's first public training in human rights law.

The two lawyers, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, who are both democracy activists, were arrested on Saturday, other activists say.

They were held for two days while their homes and offices were searched.

Efforts by Vietnam's small democracy movement to spread their message seem to have worried the authorities.

Democracy activists in Hanoi say the two lawyers were taken away by police on Saturday as they held a discussion in Mr Dai's office on human rights law.

Last month they organised a similar workshop for a few university students - thought to have been the first public human rights training event in Vietnam.

Step too far

The two were released on Sunday night but then ordered to report to a police station the following morning for further interrogation.

The Vietnamese government says dissidents use the label of "democracy" to distort the situation in the country.

But so far they have tolerated the small and illegal democracy movement - although individuals have complained of police harassment.

However, this attempt to recruit new supporters seems to have been a step too far for the authorities.

Around 2,000 people have declared themselves to be supporters of Vietnam's democracy movement - a tiny fraction of the country's population.

There are several different groups which have often had differences - although in the past year they have worked more closely together.

Their existence is never mentioned in the local press and most Vietnamese do not even know that they exist.


SEE ALSO
Vietnam frees dissident from jail
30 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam threatens internet crackdown
16 Aug 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam tightens grip on religion
24 Jan 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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