Vietnam to free thousands of prisoners in amnesty

Vietnam has granted amnesty to more than 18, 000 prisoners to mark its Independence Day celebrations.

Vietnam’s second biggest ever amnesty to mark independence celebrations includes release of 34 foreigners, but political activists are excluded from the amnesty. The prisoners will be released in batches starting from Monday ahead of the nation’s 70th National Day anniversary, which falls on second of September.

The president has decided to give amnesty to 18,298 prisoners but none of them have committed crimes against national security,” said Le Quy Vuong, Deputy Minister of Public Security, at a press conference in Hanoi.

The inmates to be released had been sentenced to a range of crimes including murder, drug trafficking and robbery. However, no one sentenced for propaganda against the state or involved in anti-regime activities were on the list to be freed. The oldest inmate to be freed is an 85-year-old man who has served four years of term and the youngest is 16 years old.

The foreign nationals to be freed include two Australians, six Laotians, one Cambodian, one Thai, sixteen Chinese, six Malaysians and two Filipinos. The deputy head of the president’s office Giang Son told the press the amnesty reflects the humanitarian nature of the government and is aimed at encouraging the prisoners to become useful citizens. He said the selection process of the pardon was conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

The Southeast Asian country typically grants amnesty to prisoners on major national holidays, including the Lunar New Year and the National Day. Communist nation’s last prisoner amnesty came in 2013 when more than 15,000 detainees were freed. Vietnam’s biggest amnesty was conducted in the year 2009 when more than 20,000 prisoners were released.

National day, a national holiday in Vietnam, is observed on September 2, commemorating the independence from France on September 2, 1945. IMAGE/Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP

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