The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on January 20 handed down prison sentences on four individuals found guilty of masterminding an attempt to overthrow the current regime.

This is a conviction decided by the judiciary of a sovereign nation to safeguard a legal regime. It is, in every way, a part of the normal functions of any judiciary of any nation. However, it was criticised by a number of diplomatic agencies and the Western mass media.

Statements, speeches and articles published by a number of foreign newspapers have betrayed a troublingly consistent prejudice against the State of Vietnam--especially those from a number of groups overseas who are working their own agendas, and have raised their opinions without adequate information or even attempting to obtain such information. Their actions constitute malicious interference with the internal affairs of an independent country.

After one day of trial, the court sentenced Tran Huynh Duy Thuc to 16 years in prison and five years’ probation, Nguyen Tien Trung to seven years in prison and three years’ probation, and Le Cong Dinh and Le Thang Long each to five years in prison and three years’ probation. All the defendants were charged by the Supreme People’s Procuracy with attempts to “overthrow the people’s regime” based on article 79 of the Penal Code.

Investigations have shown that their activities were well organised, and directed at undermining and overthrowing the State of Vietnam. They had set up alliances with reactionaries in exile and received encouragement and support from other forces known to be hostile to the legitimate government of Vietnam.

This is an extremely serious violation of national security.

At their arrests, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Le Cong Dinh admitted their crimes. Thuc acknowledged his involvement in attempting to sabotage the State by writing articles attacking the Government’s governance and economic policies, distorting the Party’s leadership and contriving to split the senior ranks of the Party and the State. Dinh confessed that he had attended a training course held by the terrorist group Viet Tan, and planned to establish a party to recruit forces against the State of Vietnam.

Before the court, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Cong Dinh pleaded guilty.

“I have acted without much thought and committed mistakes,” admitted Trung.

Le Cong Dinh said he felt conscience-stricken for his actions against the regime, to which a number of his loved ones have made considerable contributions.

It should be repeated that Dinh is a lawyer and is fully aware of Vietnamese law.

The defendants themselves pleaded guilty and said they understood that their actions ran counter to the national interests. And yet, “outsiders” such as Reporters Without Borders representative Lucie Morillon claimed, without any basis, that “they did nothing wrong”.

The defendants themselves admitted to attempts to overthrow the regime, but, nonetheless, the Director in charge of Asia for Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams, rejected this, saying they were “not crimes under international law”. What is the so-called “international law” that applies in this case?

These attempts to mount a coup-d’état, and maintain links with groups known as terrorist organisations have continued receiving protection from those wearing blindfolds when it comes to the facts.

It is impossible to understand why, when a crime has come to the light of day, some persist in maintaining that it is not a crime. What do they call the indefinite detention of inmates without a trial? Or the staging of brutal wars against a number of countries, for reasons which, later, turn out to be completely unjustified? Or fuelling the trade of weapons of mass destruction worldwide? Is that the way to secure democracy for ordinary people or nations with only a sacred aspiration for peace and development?

More important still, every citizen of a country should, first of all, strictly abide by the laws of that nation before citing vague international laws to excuse for their behaviour. Each and every nation should have the right to exercise their authority in an effort to safeguard their legitimate government, for which so many people have sacrificed their lives, and to safeguard their current domestic tranquillity, which many more people are working so hard to turn into the society for all.

Every opinion, speech and comment on a decision made by a sovereign State should be based on fair viewpoints and raised only with full knowledge of the issue and a good supply of information.

Turning a blind eye to hostile groups would create an opportunity for them to foment unrest in Vietnam, which is at present a stable nation, and a safe and friendly destination for foreign tourists and investors.

The Vietnamese Party and State now, as before and always, respect the basic rights of citizens, working for a country of peace, stability and development while, at the same time, never tolerate any attempts to overthrow the people’s regime or trample on their national interests for the sake of some self-serving political agenda./.