Monday, June 25, 2007
For the first time since the government of South Vietnam fell, a Vietnamese president visited the White House.
Invited by President Bush during his trip to Saigon last November, President Nguyen Minh Triet touted the recent economic progress his country has made, and pushed for further cooperation between our two countries.
Friday's unprecedented – albeit relatively low-profile – visit to the White House by a Vietnamese head of state marks the culmination of a lengthy normalization process between two countries that ended their war 32 years ago.
But while President Nguyen Minh Triet wants to talk mainly about how Washington can spur more US investment his fast-growing economy, his luncheon host, George W. Bush, is being pressed to steer the conversation more towards Vietnam's human rights record and an ongoing crackdown in which dozens of dissidents are believed to have been arrested around the country since the end of last year.
Friday, June 22, 2007
US President George W. Bush is to meet his Vietnam counterpart for talks on Friday amid pressure from US lawmakers and activist groups to address human rights abuses in the southeast Asian state.
Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, on a landmark visit to the United States, directly faced a barrage of complaints on the alleged abuses when he visited Capitol Hill on Thursday for closed-door talks with lawmakers.
In March, Le Quoc Quan returned to his native Vietnam after finishing a fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington. He was promptly arrested and charged with planning to overthrow the government. The charges make sense in the communist country: His fellowship focused on how to peacefully spread democracy. Under pressure from the U.S. he was released on Saturday.
Today, President Bush will meet with the president of Vietnam, Nguyen Minh Triet, at the White House. High on the agenda will be the Southeast Asian nation's record on human rights. America's military efforts to stop the communist takeover of South Vietnam ended in defeat more than 30 years ago. The result was what many Vietnamese call the "dark years," a period of oppression and economic stagnation that lasted until the mid-1980s. But now something interesting is happening. America is once again waging a campaign for freedom in Vietnam, only this time with "soft power" and bipartisan support.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Hundreds of Vietnamese anti-communist protesters marched outside the White House Friday as Vietnam's president made a historic visit to US President George W Bush. About 1,000 demonstrators staged a noisy protest, shouting "Freedom for Vietnam" and holding up placards as they rallied at the White House fence.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today introduced a resolution, H.RES. 506, calling for Vietnam’s re-designation as a Country of Particular Concern and for the removal of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) if Vietnam does not immediately and significantly improve its human rights record. Since Vietnam was removed as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) and was extended permanent normal trade relations in 2006, it has continued a brutal crackdown on peaceful human rights activists. The series of arrests made by the Vietnamese government includes Father Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan, and other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Vietnamese President's trip to the U.S. this week marks a historic step in postwar ties between the two countries, and also an opportunity. Business will certainly be on the agenda when Nguyen Minh Triet meets George W. Bush on Friday. But Hanoi's human-rights record will also be a central topic of discussion throughout the visit, whether Mr. Triet wants it to be or not.
Vietnam's economy, which Mr. Triet hopes to promote on this visit, is increasingly dependent on trade with the U.S. Vietnam exported $6.6 billion in goods to the U.S. in 2005, the most recent year for which comprehensive data are available. Its gross domestic product that year was $52 billion, while the U.S. market accounted for 20% of Vietnam's exports. That share has been growing steadily as Vietnam weans itself off its dependence on its Asian neighbors and the former Soviet Union.
When President George W. Bush sits down with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet at the White House on Friday, it will be the first time that a Communist President of Vietnam has called on the President of the former enemy, the United States. The meeting may also mark a turning point in the history of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Vietnam's industrious people and cultural heritage make it a country rich in natural and human resources. For too long, Vietnam's authoritarian state trampled on the country's tremendous potential by crushing freedoms and basic human rights. After South Vietnam ceased to exist, a million people were sent to re-education camps, and an estimated one million more fled to foreign shores. Inside Vietnam, the demagogic North -- wielding terror and deception -- collectivized agriculture, confiscated property, prohibited private businesses, monopolized educational and cultural activities and applied various other forms of government- and party repression. The national economy stagnated.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Hanoi - Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet departed Monday morning for a five-day trip to the United States that is expected to mend the two countries' diplomatic relationship, which was dented by US displeasure at a Vietnamese crackdown on political dissidents this spring. Triet will meet with US President George W Bush at the White House on Friday, where the two will sign a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. His first stop will be New York, where a raft of prominent business, political, and education leaders have scheduled events with him, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Vietnamese leaders expect the visit, the first to the US by a Vietnamese head of state, to enhance the two countries' relations on both the diplomatic and business fronts.
Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet is expected to get an earful of human rights complaints when he makes his maiden visit to the United States this week despite a last-minute release of a couple of imprisoned activists.
The concerns are to be conveyed to him by President George W. Bush's administration as well as leaders from the Democratic party-controlled Congress during his June 18-23 trip, officials said.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Vietnam has released a detained pro-democracy lawyer, just days before the Vietnamese president is to visit the United Sates.
Vietnamese officials released Le Quoc Quan Saturday. He was detained in March after returning from a five-month fellowship in the United States.
His detention has been part of a wider crackdown by Vietnamese authorities on democracy activists that has drawn criticism from U.S. authorities. President George Bush has said he plans to bring up the crackdown when he meets in Washington with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet on June 22.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Authorities on Saturday released a lawyer who was on a U.S. list of activists detained this year by Vietnam, two days before President Nguyen Minh Triet goes to the United States on a state visit.
The Vietnam News Agency reported that Le Quoc Quan, 36, who was detained in March after returning to Vietnam from a five-month fellowship in the United States, was released to his family in Hanoi.
Vietnam released a political dissident yesterday, the third the communist nation has freed ahead of President Nguyen Minh Triet's historic trip to the United States, state press reported.
Le Quoc Quan, a 36-year-old lawyer, was released to his family in the capital, Hanoi, the Vietnam News Agency reported. He had been detained since March 8, shortly after he returned from a five-month fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy, a political institute in Washington.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Twenty-five years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan delivered one of the most significant speeches of his presidency. Standing before the British parliament in the historic Westminster Palace nearly a decade before the demise of the Soviet Union, he offered the vision of "a plan and a hope for the long-term — the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people."
Monday, June 4, 2007
An official visit to the United States by Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet, which was in doubt until a few days ago, will now go ahead in a fortnight's time after Vietnam agreed to release some political dissidents.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Que Me, May 30: Vietnam Committee Welcomes President George W. Bush’s Meeting with Vietnamese Democracy Activists at the White House
Quê Me : Action for Democracy in Vietnam and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights welcome U.S. President George W. Bush’s meeting with four Vietnamese-American democracy activists at the White House yesterday to discuss concerns on human rights and democracy in Vietnam. The meeting, which was also attended by Vice-President Dick Cheney, comes just before the Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet makes his first visit to Washington in late June 2007. One of the four activists, Cong Thanh Do, founder member of the unofficial People’s Democratic Party of Vietnam, was arrested during a trip to Vietnam last year and released thanks to pressure from the United States.
International Herald Tribune, May 29: Vietnamese-American Activists Call for US to Pressure Vietnam on Human Rights
Four Vietnamese-American activists urged U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday to increase pressure on Vietnam to respect human rights and said the United States should support openly democratic forces working to bring change to Hanoi.
The White House meeting was meant to send a message of disapproval to Vietnam on its increasingly harsh treatment of anti-government activists.www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/29/america/NA-GEN-US-Vietnam.php
Monday, May 21, 2007
Senator Norm Coleman, May 21: Letter Urging Fellow Senators to Protest the Arrest of Le Quoc Quan (Plus a Letter to Vietnamese President Triet)
As a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), I urge you to join me in protesting the arrest of a former NED fellow, Le Quoc Quan, by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and to call for his immediate release from prison.
Le Quoc Quan, a lawyer from Hanoi, conducted independent research on civil society while in residence at the NED under the congressionally funded Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program. Previously, he worked as a local governance consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development bank, UNDP, and the Swedish International Development Agency. Within a few days of returning from the fellowship at NED, Quan was arrested and charged under Article 79 of the Criminal Code, which proscribes “activities aimed at overthrowing the Government.” His family has not been permitted to visit him.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
In Vietnam, the crackdown on dissidents continues in advance of elections May 20 for the National Assembly. Five activists were tried in the past week for exercising free speech. All these trials at one time are a clear signal to opponents of the regime to back off quickly. Under Vietnamese law the Communist Party is the only official voice.
Audio for this radio news article available here:
Reporters Without Borders said it was stunned by a five-year jail sentence handed down today to pro-democracy activist Tran Quoc Hien, the sixth such sentence in a week.
The 42-year-old member of the democratic movement “bloc 8406” and spokesman for the United Workers-Farmers Organization (UWFO) was sentenced for “spreading anti-government propaganda” online and “endangering state security”, at the end of a four-hour trial. He had been arrested in January 2007.
Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage at the prison sentences which a Hanoi people’s court imposed today on two human rights lawyers and cyber-dissidents at end of a trial lasting only four hours. Convicted of "defamation" and "propaganda against the regime" under article 88 of the criminal code, Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to five years and Le Thi Cong got four.
Yet another politically motivated trial in Viet Nam has turned citizens who have only peacefully expressed opinions into prisoners of conscience. Today, three leading members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were sentenced to prison terms of between three and five years in what the prosecutor in the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court described as a warning to other “hostile forces.”
Friday, May 11, 2007
Washington D.C., May 11, 2007
At ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol marking Vietnam Human Rights Day, members of Congress, labor leaders, representatives of the Vietnamese-American community, and activists are calling on the government of Vietnam to respect human rights.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed House Resolution 2-4-3, calling on the government of Vietnam to immediately release Father Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan, Le Quoc Quan, and others arrested for legitimately expressing their right to free speech.http://www.voanews.com/uspolicy/2007-05-15-voa3.cfm
Lawmakers in the United States are pressing Washington to reimpose sanctions on Vietnam.Congress has criticised Vietnam's crackdown against dissidents, which have reportedly intensified after it entered the World Trade Organisation in January. The US government has normalised trading relations with its former battlefield enemy and removed it from a dreaded human rights blacklist. But Ed Royce, a US Republican Party lawmaker, told a Congressional meeting on Hanoi's current anti-dissident campaign he is "appalled by the lack of progress in human rights reforms" in Vietnam.
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
Political Prisoners in Syria and Vietnam
The United States condemns the recent sentencings of democracy activists Anwar al-Bunni and Kamal Labwani to long terms of imprisonment and is alarmed by reports that they have been subjected to inhumane prison conditions. These developments demonstrate that the Asad regime in Syria continues to suppress dissent and crack down on those who peacefully seek to defend their rights and bring democratic reform to their country. As the President stated last year, all political prisoners in Syria should be released immediately.
Que Me May 11: Vietnam Committee Condemns Hanoi's "Systematic Liquidation" of the Vietnamese Dissident Movement
The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is deeply disturbed by the extremely harsh prison sentences handed down today against human rights lawyers Nguyen van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, and against other dissidents in the unfair trials of 10 and 11 May 2007. The Committee fears that other harsh convictions will follow. The Committee strongly denounces the recent vast wave of repression against dissidents whose sole “crime” is that of exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression and association, rights enshrined in the Vietnamese Constitution and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam acceded in September 1982.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Hanoi, May 5, 2007
Viet Nam opposes the interference of foreign countries in its internal affairs, said Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung on May 3. Dung was answering correspondents’ questions regarding a US House of Representatives’ Resolution passed on May 2 that calls for the release of individuals found to be in violation of Vietnamese law.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Memo to Hanoi
By CHRIS SMITH , BART STUPAK and FRANK WOLF
A Catholic priest who has already spent over 13 years in prison is rearrested and sentenced to eight more years for serving as an advisor to a democracy movement and a new political party. A woman, whose husband had recently been released from jail after serving time for spreading pro-democracy material, is hit by a car -- believed to be driven and occupied by plainclothes police officers -- in an effort to intimidate her and prevent her from meeting with the U.S. Ambassador. A lawyer who travels to the U.S. to serve as a Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy is arrested within a week of his return home, and charged with engaging in activities aimed at overthrowing the government.
While these stories sound like they were lifted from the files of the KGB, they are, in reality, all events that have recently taken place in Vietnam.
US House Resolution May 1: Calling on Vietnam to Immediately and Unconditionally Release Political Prisioners and Prisoners of Conscience
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey: Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Vietnam has long been known as a major violator of human rights. The U.S. House of Representatives went on record in the 109th Congress condemning and deploring the violations of human rights in Vietnam and strongly urging the Vietnamese Government to consider the implications of its human rights abuses for the broader relationship between the United States and Vietnam.
In response to a recent, well-orchestrated campaign of political suppression and intimidation by the Government of Vietnam, the U.S. House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed a resolution authored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) that calls for an immediate release of all political prisoners and substantial human rights reforms in Vietnam.
“H. Res. 243 is intended to send a critical and timely message to the Vietnamese Government that these serious violations of basic human rights are unacceptable and bring profound dishonor on the government of Vietnam. These human rights violations cannot be overlooked or continue without equally serious consequences,” Smith said yesterday on floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Citing several recent arrests and assaults carried out by the government of Vietnam against the Vietnamese people, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has written Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to express his concern about growing human rights abuses in Vietnam.
Wolf, the ranking Republican on the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee, wrote in a three-page letter dated April 18 that Vietnamese-Americans in his district and across the country are "angered and distressed by what they perceive as a new and aggressive plan of the Hanoi government to reverse the progress of human rights in Vietnam."
Vietnamese lawyers, trade unionists, religious leaders and Internet dissidents have been detained or imprisoned in increasing numbers in recent months. Amnesty International is deeply concerned over an ongoing crackdown by the Vietnamese government against people who have done nothing but peacefully express their opinions.
The Ha Noi People’s Procuracy on April 23 issued a decision to prosecute two defendants on charges of spreading propaganda against the State of Viet Nam.Nguyen Van Dai, 38, head of the Thien An Lawyers’ Office and Le Thi Cong Nhan, 28, were accused of violating items a and c, Section 1, Article 88 of the Criminal Code.
The two defendants, who were arrested on March 6, are scheduled to go on trial on May 11.
International Federation for Human Rights and World Organization against Torture April 23: Publication of an International Mission Report
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, publish today their report following its international mission carried out in Vietnam.
View report "Twelve Human Rights Defenders Have the Floor" in PDF:
Que Me April 23: Prominent International Organizations issue Mission Report on Human Rights Defenders in Vietnam
As high-level American and Vietnamese officials prepare to meet in Washington D.C. for the U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue tomorrow (24 April 2007), the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the Geneva-based World Organization against Torture (OMCT), released a groundbreaking report today on their very first mission to Vietnam. Mr Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights and FIDH Vice-President welcomed the publication of the report, issued in the framework of the FIDH and OMCTâ€™s joint programme, the Observatory of Human Rights Defenders.
The Committee to Protect Journalists journalist is gravely concerned about the recent arrest of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, an award-winning journalist and writer. Thuy was taken into custody Saturday at her residence, where she was already being held under house arrest, according to news reports. She was charged with violating Article 88 of Vietnam’s criminal code, which prohibits the dissemination of information that authorities deem harmful to the state.
Que Me April 24: 141 International Human Rights Leagues Gathered in Lisbon Condemn Crack-Down on Human Rights Defenders in Vietnam
Members of 141 leagues from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, meeting in Lisbon, Portugal from 22-24 April 2007 for the 36th Congress of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) adopted two resolutions condemning violations of human rights in Vietnam. In an Urgent Resolution, the Congress condemned the recent crack-down on human rights defenders, religious and political dissidents, called on Vietnam to cease repression against all “non-recognized” religious movements including the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, and launch “a real and effective reforms aimed at building a society grounded on the respect of democratic freedoms and fundamental human rights” (see full text of the resolution below). M. Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, represented Vietnam at the Congress.
Monday, April 23, 2007
When Senator McCain signs a letter along with Vin Weber, who is a top policy adviser to Mr. McCain's rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, it is worth paying attention to, especially when the letter is also signed by President Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. The letter, addressed to the "president" of Vietnam, calls for the release by Vietnamese authorities of a 35-year-old lawyer, Le Quoc Quan, who was arrested March 8, shortly after he returned to his country from a five-month fellowship in Washington at the National Endowment for Democracy.
Editor’s Note: Human rights activists are decrying what they describe as the worst crackdown on human rights in Vietnam in 20 years. The situation has been aggravated by a twist in U.S. policy, says NAM editor Andrew Lam. Lam is the author of "Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora."
A picture paints a thousand words, but an image taken from the state-controlled television in Vietnam and circulated widely on the Internet can convey the struggle of an entire people. Flanked by two angry-looking policemen, a man sits bleary-eyed, his mouth covered by the hand of an out-of-uniform policeman behind him.
National Endowment for Democracy, April 17: Albright, McCain and Weber Call for Release of Le Quoc Quan
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Senator John McCain and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Chairman Vin Weber are the authors of a letter sent April 12 to the President of Vietnam protesting the March 8 arrest of Le Quoc Quan, a Vietnamese lawyer who was most recently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at NED.
We are the Chairs of, respectively, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), three organizations based in Washington, D.C., whose directors include prominent businessmen, current and former members of Congress, independent scholars, and other distinguished Americans.
We are shocked and outraged to learn of the March 8 arrest of lawyer Le Quoc Quan very shortly after his return to Vietnam following completion of a five-month fellowship in residence at NED. The fellowship is part of an exchange program funded by the U.S. Congress and the Department of State that has brought to the Endowment outstanding scholars and practitioners from over 50 countries since its inception six years ago.
The first delegation from the newly-elected US Congress has just wrapped up its visit to Viet Nam, which State officials said included constructive discussions on trade, bilateral co-operation and the search for missing soldiers.
Hanoi, April 6, 2007
Madame Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Vice-chair of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee gave the Viet Nam News Agency an interview on US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’s remarks with the press in Ha Noi on April 6.
Question: What do you have to say about Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’s harsh criticisms about democracy and human rights in Viet Nam?
April 6, 2006
To: All Vietnamese compatriots inland and overseas and the world community of advocates for democracy in Vietnam:
In joining so many selfless individuals who are fighting for democracy in Vietnam, we, the representatives of hundreds of democracy activists inside Vietnam, hereby signed this document to raise our unanimous voice on behalf of the Vietnamese people that: The state of our nation has been, is, and continues to be placed in danger by the totalitarian, ...
Washington, D.C., April 6, 2007
On the eve of Bloc 8406’s first anniversary, members of the group, which calls for greater political freedom in Vietnam, still face harassment and abuse, including imprisonment, Human Rights Watch said today.
The Vietnamese government should end its persecution of citizens trying to exercise their rights to free expression and assembly, Human Rights Watch said.
Vietnamese police blocked dissidents' wives from attending a tea at the U.S. ambassador's house, creating a scene that he feared "was at risk of spiraling out of control," the diplomat said Friday.
The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam yesterday denounced its repression of dissidents and called on the communist government to free political prisoners and embrace democracy. Ambassador Michael Marine, in an opinion article sent to newspapers in Hanoi, named several dissidents whose "only crime was the peaceful expression of their views."
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez April 5: Police Physically Restrain Wives of Dissidents from Meeting Sanchez
Washington, D.C. April 5, 2007
U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D- Garden Grove) joined an armed services congressional delegation in Vietnam after three previous visa denials by the Vietnamese government. The delegation held meetings regarding the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command's mission to account for missing American soldiers.
This is an extraordinary time for Vietnam. When the United States and Vietnam reestablished diplomatic ties in 1995, Vietnam was a nation still recovering from decades of war, and whose last several generations knew nothing but international isolation and central planning. Today, Vietnam’s sustained economic growth rate is second only to China’s in East Asia, and global investors are increasingly looking to Vietnam as the next Asian Tiger.
The US ambassador to Vietnam on Thursday called on the communist one-party state to free its dissidents and open up its political system, in an editorial the embassy sent to local media.
Ambassador Michael Marine said last week's eight-year jail sentence for activist priest Father Nguyen Van Ly was "baffling considering his crime was peacefully speaking out in favor of political change."
The sentences handed down to five dissidents in Vietnam on Friday highlight how little is changing there politically, despite a wave of economic opening. Show trials are still the norm for opponents of the Communist Party government, and speaking out against the status quo can -- and does -- land you in jail.
Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper March 31: Overseas Organization Acts against National Interest
Vietnam, March 31, 2007
Many overseas Vietnamese in the US and several Eastern European countries recently became aware of the so-called Viet Tan Party through several websites and tabloid newspapers published in Vietnamese abroad. Some of them have been seduced and deceived by Viet Tan, according to the General Department of Security under the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security during a briefing with leaders of press agencies in Hanoi on March 28.
Que Me March 30: Vietnam Repeals Decree 31/CP on "Administrative Probation" but Continues Arbitrary Detention of Dissidents under Ordinance 44
Geneva, March 30, 2007
In a move praised by Western diplomats as a step towards the rule of law, Vietnam this week announced the abolition of Decree 31/CP on “Administrative Probation”, a measure routinely invoked to detain dissidents and government critics without trial. However, in a Written Statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights stated that the communist authorities had remained silent on the existence of a lesser known but more repressive law, Ordinance 44 on “Regulating Administrative Violations”, which gives local officials wider powers to not only to arrest and detain citizens suspected of “national security” offences, as Decree 31/CP, but also to commit them to mental hospitals or “rehabilitation camps” without any due process of law.
Vietnam's much heralded economic opening may be continuing apace, but when it comes to politics, it's one-party as usual. Vietnam's democracy movement will soon mark the first anniversary of a ground-breaking manifesto and the birth of a major new pro-rights group. So naturally Hanoi is marking the occasion by arresting activists, five of whom were tried, convicted and sentenced yesterday in a four-hour trial in Hue.
Father Nguyen Van Ly, a 60-year-old Catholic priest who helped set up an internet petition calling for democratic change, was today sentenced to eight years imprisonment for "conducting propaganda" against the state. Four of his associates, Nguyen Phong, Nguyen Binh Thanh, Hoang Thi Anh Dao and Le Thi Hang, were also sentenced.
The trial of Nguyen Van Ly and his accomplices for spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam will begin in the People's Court of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on Mar. 30.Based on investigations by the provincial security forces, the People's Procuracy issued an indictment against Ly and his co-conspirators, charging them with violating clause 1 of Article 88 of the Penal Code.
It is being characterized by international rights groups as Vietnam's biggest crackdown on political dissent in more than 20 years. And the intensifying harassment and growing number of detentions are fast sapping the life out of the country's nascent but bold democratic-reform movement that the US tacitly supports.
Reporters without Borders March 29: Judges Urged Not to Pass Jail Sentence on Catholic Priest Who Edits Dissident Newspaper
Priest who edited dissident newspaper gets eight years
Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked by the prison sentences imposed today by a people’s court in the central city of Hue on Father Nguyen Van Ly and four other people who helped him produce a dissident publication called Tu do Ngôn luan. The court found them guilty of "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."
But despite its successes, Vietnam's ruling Communist Party remains terrified of any challenge to its monopoly on power
A sustained boom, with annual economic growth consistently around 7-8% since 2000, has transformed Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), its largest conurbation, is bustling, confident and expanding fast. Its fancy restaurants and designer shops are not just for the increasing numbers of foreign tourists and businessmen. The middle class seems broader, and the gap between rich and poor narrower, than in many other South-East Asian cities.
Hanoi, March 24, 2007
As a sign of its rapidly warming ties with the United States, Vietnam will send one of its most
respected diplomats as the new ambassador to Washington.
Mr Le Cong Phung, 59, the most senior of the nation's four deputy foreign ministers, will soon be named as Hanoi's new man in the US.
Viet Nam Watch Blog March 20: Radio Free Asia Interview with Wife of Attorney Le Quoc Quan (English)
Following the arrests of Father Nguyen Van Ly, attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan and attorney Nguyen Van Dai, one more democracy activist has been arrested by the Vietnamese authorities: Le Quoc Quan who had been permitted by the Vietnamese government to travel to the United States to attend a six-month fellowship with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) based in Washington D.C.
The US routinely uses “religious freedom” as a cause to “work” with Vietnam.
It has sent many delegations to Vietnam on fact-finding visits to meet “witnesses”.
Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Huong has, since 2003, received many high-profile US guests, including John Hanford, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Senator Sam Brownback, not to mention ambassador to Vietnam, Michael Marine.
As Vietnam pursues its crack-down on pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders, it is stepping up repression against the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).
- UBCV leaders in Hue sent an urgent appeal today to the International Buddhist Information Bureau reporting that 30 Security Police have surrounded the home of prominent Buddhist youth leader, Le Cong Cau since 17 March 2007.
Human Rights Watch calls idea to release prisoners a part of the “revolving door” in VietnamBy John E. CareyPeace and FreedomMarch 18, 2007Last year in November, the President of the United States, the President of Russia, and many other important heads of state and dignitaries visited Hanoi, Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC). The Vietnamese communists used the opportunity as a gigantic photo-op of how much better Vietnam was doing on human rights.
After joining the World Trade Organization in January 2007, the politburo of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) has carried out a large-scale brutal campaign of suppression against the nascent movement for democracy in Vietnam. Ignoring all criticisms from world public opinion and strenuous protests of the Vietnamese people, in Vietnam and overseas, the communist regime in Hanoi has shamefully achieved the following:
Que Me March 16: Buddhist Leader Thich Quang Do Speaks out on the Arrest of Therese Jebsen in Saigon
On 15th March 2007 at 9.00am, Therese Jebsen of the Rafto Foundation came to the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon to meet Venerable Thich Quang Do and hand him the Award Certificate of the 2006 Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for Human Rights Defenders. The Vietnamese government had refused to let Thich Quang Do travel to Bergen, Norway to receive the prize in November 2006, and UBCV spokesman Vo Van Ai accepted the award on his behalf. Vietnam also refused the Rafto Foundation Chairman Arne LynngÃ¥rdâ€™s request in February 2007 to visit Vietnam and present the Award in person.
Friday, April 20, 2007
National Endowment for Democracy March 16: Ned Reagan-Fascell Fellow Le Quoc Quan Arrested after Return to Vietnam
Washington, DC -- The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is greatly troubled by the arrest in Vietnam of Le Quoc Quan. Le Quoc Quan, a lawyer, has recently been in residence at NED on a congressionally-funded Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship, pursuing independent research on the role of civil society in emerging democracies. He was arrested on March 8 in his hometown in Nghe An province, only 4 days after his return from Washington to Vietnam. At this time, Le Quoc Quan's whereabouts are unknown, and there are no public charges against him.
A top dissident Buddhist leader in Vietnam has spoken out against the detention in Ho Chi Minh City of a Norwegian woman who came to present him with a prestigious human rights award, amid signs of a tough new crackdown on dissent.
Catholic Online March 15: Catholic Priest's Arrest Highlights Furor over Vietnamese Rights Crackdown
The arrest of Father Nguyen Van Ly in February by Vietnamese police was denounced by members of Congress and several Vietnamese-American rights activists during a March 14 press conference at a House office building.
According to BosNewsLife, within the last week, police officers arrested lawyer Le Quoc Quan at his house in Nghe An province, Vietnam. He is still in police custody, but his whereabouts are unknown. Quan had just returned from Washington, DC, where as a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), he researched the theories and practices of civil society. NED serves as the Secretariat of the World Movement for Democracy. Some have suggested that Quan is being detained for his involvement in human rights issues. For years, he has spoken out against religious and human rights violations. His writings have appeared on the BBC and in various Vietnamese newspapers and Web sites.
See PDF document here:
Hanoi, March 14, 2007
Congressman Smith March 14: Smith Calls on Vietnamese Government to Immediately Release Political Prisoners
Washington DC, March 14, 2007
Congressman will be introducing resolution in House to demand an immediate end to the human rights abuses in Vietnam
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem arrived in Washington, DC, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) held a press conference on Capitol Hill to demand that the Government of Vietnam immediately end their ongoing, unbridled human rights abuses and free all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
Lawmakers in U.S. Congress are condemning recent arrests and harassment of dissidents in Vietnam, saying they demonstrate that the government in Hanoi is not serious about pledges to improve human rights conditions. VOA's Dan Robinson reports, four Republican congressmen appeared at a Capitol Hill news conference with Vietnamese activists and pledged legislative steps and other actions in response.
A Christian pro-democracy activist was released by Vietnamese authorities Tuesday, March 13, after spending over 12 hours in police custody, but the whereabouts of a human rights lawyer remained unknown, dissidents told BosNewsLife.
Congresswoman Lofgren March 12: Rep. Lofgren Calls on Secretary Of State Rice to Address Human Rights during Vietnamese Visit to Washington
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem to Visit United States
March 12, 2007
Washington, DC – Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has called on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to insist that Vietnam make significant improvements in the protection of religious freedom, free speech, and other basic human rights. In a recent letter to Secretary of State Rice, Rep. Lofgren asked that the Secretary directly address these concerns with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem on their March 15, 2007 meeting in Washington, DC. Additional signatories to the letter include: Vietnam Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Tom Davis, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, and Rep. Chris Smith; and, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
In Vietnam, February and March are supposed to be a good time for relaxation, after the exuberant Lunar New Year.
More and more people are questioning the party's direction. But Vietnamese media have been absorbed since the end of January in a difficult and sensitive debate - over the leadership of the Communist Party, or rather a lack of it.
Communist Vietnam's state-controlled media on Friday denounced a "plot" by recently jailed dissidents to form oppositionpolitical parties and field candidates in upcoming National Assembly elections.
The report cited "unilateral and distorted information that failed to reflect the reality in Vietnam," Le Dzung said at a regular press briefing.
Vietnam respected and protected citizens' right to freedom of belief and religion, he said.
The Vietnamese government, emboldened by international recognition after joining the World Trade Organization and hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, is flouting its international commitments on human rights by launching one of the worst crackdowns on peaceful dissidents in 20 years, Human Rights Watch said today.
Committee to Protect Journalists, March 6: Government Crackdown Targets Press Freedom Advocates in Vietnam
Police arrested press freedom and democracy advocate Nguyen Van Dai and another human rights lawyer at their homes in Hanoi today for investigation under a criminal law that bans “propaganda against the government,” according to international news reports.