The Vietnamese Government has announced it will release 5,500 prisoners, in an amnesty to mark the country's national day. Vietnam celebrates September 2nd as the end of Japanese occupation in 1945, despite the return of the French as colonisers for another decade. The day also coincides with the official date of the death of Ho Chi Minh - the Communist Party hero of Vietnam's independence. But for some in the Vietnamese community living in Australia, they say there's little to celebrate.

Presenter:Karon Snowdon

Speakers: Phong Nguyen, (NEW-UN) President of the Vietnamese Community of Australia; Brittis Edman, Amnesty International's Vietnam Researcher.

SNOWDON: Phong Nguyen was 17 when he fled Vietnam in a boat with his mother and two sisters, arriving finally in Australia.

They left behind his father, an officer in the South Vietnamese army who spent 17 years in a re-education camp after the North 's victory in 1975.

Phong Nguyen is now President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia.

NGUYEN: For most Vietnamese overseas being victims of the regime we do not call it a national day, we would call it a mourning day, nothing to celebrate about, after 60 years of the Communist rule in both the North and now the South and after 34 or 35 years of so-called reunification, Vietnam is no longer at war. We have got people living in abject poverty, we've got human rights abuse a plenty, we have got people in jails just because they disagree with the government or the demands on basic human rights.

SNOWDON: Religious freedom is curtailed and the patriarch of the united Buddhist church remains under house arrest after 20 years.

Of the 5,500 thousand prisoners to be released from jail to mark the national day, 13 are reportedly people jailed on national security grounds.

Brittis Edman is the Vietnam Researcher for Amnesty International.

EDMAN: It does appear that a number of people arrested under national security legislation are being released which is good. But none of the people arrested recently appear to be on the list, and what we are calling for from Amnesty's point of view is for the immediate and unconditional release, whether it's national day or not because they haven't committed any crime.

SNOWDON: In the last few days news has emerged of the arrest of at least two journalists or bloggers charged with violating national security - a charge often used against democracy activists or critics of government policy.

Brittis Edman believes there are clear signs of growing official intolerance of peaceful dissent and increasing political tension.

EDMAN: And also we're seeing increasing political tension ahead of nominations for the 11th Congress of the Communist Party, which is happening early 2011.

SNOWDON: So it's the government trying to nip in the bud any challenge to the Communist Party rule?

EDMAN: In some respects, perhaps that's what we're seeing, although to be honest, most of the activists that they have arrested don't pose a threat to the Communist Party, but they may be organised in ways that in the long run might feel like a threat for the government of Vietnam. But I think it is very clear that they have come under tremendous pressure, because they have launched a massive propaganda campaign against these individuals. They have broadcast on television confessions by these people, they are issuing almost daily news articles in the states-controlled press about them and what they have done and I think it is important to remember that what they are accused of or in some cases, already charged of are crimes that are not recognisable under international laws.

SNOWDON: Next week, the Australian government will host a visit by the Secretary General of the Communist party, Mr Nong Duc Manh.

The Vietnamese community intends to protest outside the federal parliament House with some long standing complaints according to Phong Nguyen

PHONG: We will highlight the situation of human rights and the 60 year record of human rights abuse and today we feel we have got more than 400 political prisoners and released prisoners so that we disagree with the Australian Government to welcome this general secretary of a Communist Party.