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The Vietnamese authorities have cracked down heavily in response to a series of demonstrations taking place throughout the country in May 2016, organized following an ecological catastrophe that has decimated the nation’s fish stocks. Wide-ranging police measures to prevent and punish participation in demonstrations has resulted in a range of human rights violations including torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment, as well as violations of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of movement.

The protests come just as President Obama is preparing to visit the country this weekend.

Amnesty International calls for an end to violations and for the government to uphold and facilitate the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in anticipation of any further demonstrations that may take place in the coming days and weeks. Further, Amnesty International calls for the release of over 80 prisoners of conscience being held throughout the country.

“The United States must stress that the oppression of free expression and the jailing of prisoners of conscience in Viet Nam should stop. Failure to do so will send a wrong message that the U.S. does not care about these prisoners, and could encourage Vietnamese authorities to continue their crackdown on peaceful dissent,” said T. Kumar, advocacy director for Asia for Amnesty International USA.

For a full statement on the environmental protests, including interviews with witnesses, please visit: http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/asa4140782016english.pdf