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.