Monday, June 18, 2012

Catholic dissidents sentenced

Four Catholic dissidents affiliated with the  Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer were sentenced to prison terms at a trial held May 24 in Nghe An province, charged with conducting propaganda against the state. As reported by Front Line Defenders:

"Dau Van Dong was convicted to three and a half years of imprisonment with one year probation, Tran Huc Duc was convicted to three years and three months of imprisonment with one year probation, Chu Manh Son was sentenced to three years of imprisonment with one year probation, while Hoang Phong received a sentencing of two years probation."

The report notes that the defendants "were represented by three lawyers who only recently had access to their clients, whom they believe were convicted for handing out pro-democracy leaflets."

According to Human Rights Watch: "the four activists had participated in volunteer activities, including encouraging women not to have abortions, donating blood, and volunteering to help orphans and victims of natural disasters."

Sources: Front Line Defenders June 15; Human Rigths Watch, May22.

Journalists protest assaults against them

VietnamNet Bridge reports:

"Over the past five years, there have been about 40 cases in which journalists were assaulted, five of which have occurred recently, said deputy chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association Pham Quoc Toan."

Among the recent cases was a police assault of two journalists covering a forced land eviction last April, and a journalist who was assaulted by a group of people in Lang Son province last January while working on a report about smuggling. Reporters are particularly vulnerable by attacks from the subjects of their investigation when writing about corruptiion cases.

The Vietnam Journalists Association has called for regulations to protect the rights of journalists and their activities, such as recording, photographing, shooting, getting information or material.

Source: VietnamNet/Tuoi Tre, June 13.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

1977 Buddhist protest documents

The text of documents released in 1977 from the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) leaders, protesting religious repression and human rights violations, can be found here.

The documents were smuggled out of the country by a high ranking UBCV monk, Thich Man Giac, who fled by fishing boat in 1977, and translated into English by the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation, headed by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong (then a layperson, known as Cao Ngoc Phuong). The link is to a 1978 journal of Religion in Communist Lands, as it was then known, later known as Religion, State, and Society, published by the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, & Society. The documents were also published in a book by James H. Forest, The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam: Fifteen Years for Reconciliation. Alkmaar, Netherlands: International Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1978.

The documents are of historical significance because this was the first major protest of any kind within Vietnam, and it also marked one of the most serious crackdowns on religion by the new government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, at a time when it was at its most repressive and closed mode. The top six leaders of the UBCV were arrested shortly after these documents were issued, in April 1977, and imprisoned until December 1978. Another prominent monk involved with these documents, Thich Thien Minh, was arrested and died in prison in 1978. By 1981, the government had moved to establish a state-sponsored Buddhist church, and required the UBCV to incorporate itself into this new organization. Some UBCV leaders, most notably Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do, strongly protested, and thus spent most of the subsequent years in prison or under house arrest.

Cu Huy Ha Vu, HRW report

Human Rights Watch issued May 26 a 59-page report on dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu, who was sentenced last month to seven years imprisonment for carrying out propaganda against the state.

One interesting point brought out in the report is the wide support he has received within Vietnam. The press release can be found here.

The text of the report in English can be found here. In Vietnamese, here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vi Duc Hoi sentenced

Vi Duc Hoi, a former Communist Party official, has been sentenced by a court in Lang Son province to eight years in prison, followed by five years house arrest, for posting pro-democracy articles on the internet. He was convicted of "spreading anti-government propaganda," in violation of Article 88 of the Criminal Code. Amnesty International issued a press release today protesting his sentence, which can be found here.

See also Viet Tan report and this one from Viet Tan last November. Frontline Defenders says: "Vi Duc Hoi was a member of the Communist Party between 1980 and 2007, during which time he held a number of positions: Director of the Communist Party School in Huu Lung District, Lang Son Province; District Standing Committee Member; and Chairman of the District Propaganda and Education Committee.

"The day after he submitted his resignation on 1 May 2007, a party official reportedly issued an order, Decision no. 388-QD/TU, stating that the party would have to “undertake disciplinary action against comrade Vi Duc Hoi [...] and expel him”.

"Vi Duc Hoi was previously arrested in April 2008 for his part in protesting the Beijing Torch Relay in Vietnam. On 12 June 2008, during a Communist Party rally, Vi Duc Hoi was publicly denounced, accused of treason, and threatened with expulsion from his hometown. His wife was dismissed from the Communist Party as a result of her 'inability to educate her husband'. Since joining Bloc 8406 Vi Duc Hoi has been denied his health insurance and pension..."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ceremony honors Catholic martyrs

A commemorative ceremony to honor Vietnam's Peter Doan Cong Qui and Emmanuel Le Van Phung, two of the 117 sainted Catholic martyrs from Vietnam, was held July 31 on Gieng island in Long Xuyen diocese of southern Vietnam, concelebrated by 60 priests, with the participation of hundreds of ceremonies and 3,000 laity. Click here for full article, from Asia News, reprinted in Viet Catholic News Aug. 3.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Rights Agenda for Vietnam

Duy Hoang, leader of Viet Tan, an overseas Vietnamese anti-communist group, calls on Sec. of State Clinton to put more pressure on the Vietnam government in the area of human rights, particularly with regard to internet freedom and the release of dissidents. Click here for the full op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, July 19.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

UN officials reports on minority rights in Vietnam

Statement by the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, on conclusion of her official visit to Viet Nam – 5 to 15 July 2010

In my capacity as the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues I have conducted an official visit to Viet Nam from 5 to 15 July 2010. The objective of my visit was to hold consultations on minority issues and to examine the human rights situation of Viet Nam’s numerous minority groups in conformity with my UN mandate. Under my mandate I am required to promote implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities* and to identify challenges as well as successful practices in regard to minority...

..The Government readily acknowledges that, despite a remarkable period of economic growth, progress towards the MDGs and highly positive results in respect to poverty alleviation and economic development in general, most minority groups remain the poorest of Viet Nam’s poor. The acknowledgment of the economic and social gaps that exist between the minority communities and the majority population, who identify themselves as the “Kinh” ethnic group, is an important step towards putting in place the measures required to close those gaps. Government programs over the past several years have established important initiatives to close those gaps through infrastructure projects, social protection programs and developments in the fields of health and education. The government should be commended for these programs and the improvements that they have made in the lives of minorities.

I understand the challenges facing the government in achieving the rights of non-Kinh ethnic communities, particularly those in the most geographically remote areas. I welcome the government’s affirmation of its commitment to tackling those challenges as a matter of high priority. It is critical that the Government ensures that its economic growth is achieved without negatively impacting on the lives of minorities or deepening their poverty and that they share fully in the benefits of growth and prosperity, while maintaining their distinct cultures and identities...

For full report, by Ms. Gay McDougall, July 21, click here.

Dissent article on dissident movement in Vietnam

In its summer issue, Dissent magazine, published in New York, breaks the silence on efforts to quell pro-democracy movements in Vietnam with an article titled “Vietnamese Dissidents: Absent from the Western Mind.”

Dustin Roasa, a free lance writer based in Cambodia, describes the most recent chapter in the history of Vietnamese dissidents, which began on April 8, 2006, when a group of activists posted on-line a “Manifesto 2006 on Freedom and Democracy.” The Dissent article was featured in a blog called Human Rights for Workers...

Click here for remainder of commentary in the Committee for Free Trade Unionism blog, July 27.

Mob throws coffin on government steps

Thousands of angry Vietnamese surrounded a government building, throwing rocks and blocking traffic with a coffin following the unexpected death of a man detained for a routine traffic violation, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Nong Nghiep Vietnam newspaper quoted the victim's uncle, Nguyen Van Toan, as saying that family members gathered to demand an investigation into the 21-year-old man's death in northern Bac Giang province. He was hospitalized after being taken into custody following a routine traffic stop...

Click here for full report from Associated Press, July 27.

Rights abuse in drug treatment centers

Drug policies based on ideology rather than science are fueling human rights abuses of drug users, according to a panel of experts speaking at last week’s Eighteenth International AIDS Conference which took place in Vienna, Austria.

Violations of physical and legal rights coupled with poor outcomes mar many country’s drug treatment programmes, which can include forced labour or exercise and prison-like conditions.

Asia acts as the epicentre of such mandatory programmes, in which drug users are forcibly removed from their communities and kept in centres for months to years. Currently, the continent boasts an estimated 400,000-5000,000 detainees. Considering programmes in China and Cambodia, Richard Pearshouse says that these programmes have seen a “massive scale up” in recent years...

...T.M. Hammet of USAID voiced similar concerns as he described the situation of detainees in Vietnam’s “06 Centres,” who also experience no due process and may spend up to four years within the programme. Countrywide 33,000 users are currently detained...

Click here for full article, from Aidsmap July 27.

Trade, but also human rights, in Washington Hanoi cooperation

Hanoi - The United States wants to increase cooperation with Vietnam, although there are "profound differences" in the vision of human rights and democracy, despite criticism of Hanoi for the repression against dissidents, attacks on religious groups and limited access to Internet.

This is what has emerged from US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s the visit to Vietnam, during the meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers, held in Hanoi...

Click here for full story from Spero News/Asia News July 27.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Closing statement of Dep. PM Pham Gia Khiem at ASEAN meeting

..We commended the efforts of the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in finalizing the 5-year Work Plan, and approved the high priority programmes and activities for 2010-2011 of AICHR. We reaffirmed the role of AICHR as the overarching institution for regional cooperation in human rights and stressed the need for the AICHR to ensure the effective operation in conformity with its Terms of Reference and establish its proper alignment with other human rights bodies in ASEAN, including the ASEAN Commission on the promotion and protection of rights of Women and Children (ACWC)...

Click here for full text of statement.

Decree on implementation of the law on residential housing of Vietnam

On 23 June 2010, the Government of Vietnam promulgated Decree No. 71/2010/ND-CP (“Decree 71”) guiding the implementation of the Law on Residential Housing dated 29 November 2005. Decree 71 will take effect on 8 August 2010 and will replace Decree No. 90/2006/ND-CP (“Decree 90”) of the Government dated 6 September 2006...

Click here for full article.

For Ly Tong, Vietnam War Still Rages

Ly Tong, arguably the most famous, if not the most colorful, of all Vietnamese-American anti-communist activists, was arrested again in San Jose. The man, who many in the Vietnamese-American community call “Hero Ly Tong,” reportedly dressed up as a woman and bought a ticket to a Vietnamese concert. He made his way to the stage and pepper-sprayed the famous Vietnamese pop singer Hung Vinh Dam, who is visiting from Vietnam. The reason: Dam is accused of being a communist and spreading propaganda in the United States, even though the singer only sings love songs...

Click here for full article.