Despite Crackdown on Dissent, Can Vietnam Reform?

The Diplomat
By Steve Finch, February 9, 2013

Vietnam stands at a contradictory political crossroads. The line between activities deemed acceptable and illegal remains ill-defined.

Even by recent standards in Vietnam, Monday’s life sentence handed down on Phan Van Thu was widely considered harsh.

In the second mass subversion trial in less than a month in this authoritarian Communist state, 21 of Thu’s supporters received jail terms of between 10 and 17 years to be followed by five years of house arrest.

Meanwhile, intellectuals, church leaders and current and former army and party officials have put their signatures on an online petition calling for revisions to the constitution to separate executive, legislative and judicial powers and allow multi-party elections.

Support for this direct challenge to the status quo has grown steadily.

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