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.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Haiphong Catholics relaunch youth ministry

Hanoi – More than a hundred young people attended a seminar in the
diocese of Haiphong titled ‘Young people and faith’ as part of an
effort by the Vietnamese Catholic Church to re-launch its youth
ministry programme.

The three-day event (20 to 22 July), organised by the Youth Ministry
Committee of the Vietnam Catholic Bishops’ Council, brought together four bishops, about 25 priests and nuns involved with youth as well as more than 100 young people from 26 different dioceses...

Click here for full article.

Government-Incited Gang in Vietnam Attacks House Church

HO CHI MINH CITY (Compass Direct News) – A gang of youths on Sunday attacked a house church as the congregation worshiped in Xi Thoai village in Phu Yen Province on Vietnam’s south central coast,
Christian sources said.

The local youths smashed the walls of the home and wreaked havoc
within as they railed against evangelist Mang Vuong for being a
Christian and for building his home to be a house church, the sources
said. The sources noted that on the night of June 10 the same youths,
spurred by local authorities, broke into Vuong’s home in Xuan Lanh
Commune, Dong Xuan district, stole more than $3,000 and destroyed
household furnishings, utensils and books...

Click here for full article.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Breaking Fences In Vietnam - by Bill Hayton

International aid and investment has not brought multi-party democracy to Vietnam; instead it has made one party rule more efficient and effective.

Fulbright scholar and celebrity lawyer Le Cong Dinh is to remain in prison in Vietnam. Recently, the Appeals Court in Ho Chi Minh City upheld his five-year sentence for 'trying to overthrow the state' and returned Dinh and his two co-accused to their cells. The fate of this man--who famously defended his country's catfish farmers against U.S. trade restrictions; was deputy head of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association; briefed international legal delegations; and married a former Miss Vietnam--has now clearly defined the limits of political activity the ruling Communist Party (CPV) will tolerate...

Click here for full article.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Clinton raises human rights during Vietnam visit

Various reports:

New York Times/Bloomberg:

HANOI, Vietnam — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chided
Vietnam on Thursday for intolerance of dissent and infringement of
Internet freedom, even as she celebrated its 15 years of normalized
relations with the United States.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a news conference
with Pham Gia Khiem, Vietnam’s foreign minister, in Hanoi on Thursday.

Mrs. Clinton said she raised the issues of jailed democracy activists,
attacks on religious groups and curbs on social-networking Web sites
during a meeting with Vietnam’s deputy prime minister, Pham Gia Khiem...

Click here for full text of article.


Washington Post:

HANOI -- The Obama administration is ready to move to the "next level"
of close relations with Vietnam despite concerns and "profound
differences" over human rights, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton said during a visit to Hanoi on Thursday...

Click here for full text of report.


Voice of America:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Hanoi for a regional
security forum, has hailed 15 years of improving relations with
Vietnam since the war fought there 35 years ago. However, Clinton
also cited outstanding human rights concerns in the one-party state...

Click here for full text of report.



Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern
Thursday over Vietnam's arrests of dissidents, attacks on religious
groups and curbs on Internet freedom, but said the countries remained

Click here for full text of report.

OC Weekly blog:

News services are reporting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
pressured Vietnam's leaders to improve its human rights practices
during her trip to the Southeast Asian nation, but two Orange County
members of Congress view her actions with opposing conclusions.

Loretta Sanchez (D-Anaheim) told The Orange County Register's
Washington, D.C. bureau that she was "thrilled" by Clinton raising the
issue, but Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) complained that the secretary of
state's rebuke had been too brief and weak...

Click here for full text of report.

HRW: Clinton Should Press Hanoi on Rights

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should highlight the importance of respect for human rights in Vietnam during her visit to Hanoi to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum on July 23, 2010, Human Rights Watch said today...

Click here for full press release.

Independent magazine keeps publishing despite harassment

Reporters Without Borders voices its full support for the writers and editors of To Quoc (, an independent fortnightly that has managed to keep appearing in print and online despite a campaign of threats and harassment. One of its founders told Reporters Without Borders the threats were part of a “dangerous plans by the conservatives” before the Communist Party’s next congress...

Click here for full report (published last April).

Le Thi Cong Nhan poem - I have a dream

The following translation of a poem was sent to me by a friend and is
also posted at the website listed below. Le Thi Cong Nhan is a lawyer
and dissident who was recently released from prison after completing
a three year sentence for her human rights work, but is now under house arrest.

This link includes the original Vietnamese version:


by Le Thi Cong Nhan

I have a dream
that one day
on earth
there will be no more

Then, my village peasants
will not have to work hard in the rice field
under the hot burning sun,
soaked in sweat
in the rainy storm,
in the empty rice field,
so the grain will be ripe
and full.
more than half must be given to feed the dictatorial communist
What's left?!

Then, my country's scholars
will raise their voice to the truth
Because the figure 8 handcuff
and provision 88 of the legal statute
will have been expunged
out of our thoughts.
With it go provisions 79, 87,
and 258 ...
abominable forever !
They are the unique products of our country
and of other socialist brethrens'
An evil axis to be more accurate !
Walking together
they usurp the wealth
to themselves
for eternity !

Then my country's poets and writers
will flood their thoughts fully
suppressing them,
hiding them,
hanging them,
bagging them,
or simply
forgetting them,
pretending that they don't have any honest thoughts
at all!

And then,
the poems and songs
from my country
will flourish
even if they have to start all over.
a single step
on the honest path (if you dare to join)
is enough to overwhelm you!
Try it!

When there is no longer a communist shadow
in my country
then the lawyer
will truly be
the heart of democracy!!
To deliver eloquent speeches, lecture,
debate, defend,
without being afraid
to be thrown in jail,
refusing to be
dumb witted
Refusing to praise and glorify the communist gang,
and a decomposed corpse (made of composite)!
To be great,
to be the only truth
on earth.

there will no longer be hardship
of the hard working laborors
with the dirt cheap salary
that cannot be any cheaper !

And there will no longer be any more calamity
that the spiritual leaders have to endure
because of their stubbornness
and of their characters,
to be foolish enough
to demand freedom of religions and religious beliefs,
and furthermore
to demand back
the confiscated properties that were taken unfairly from them,
in order to worship
God, the Almighty, the Lord
Our Creator,
and also
the Creator of the communists, too !
Because He is the One who gave life
to humankind.

Therefore, the communists,
if you are still breathing
then definitely that notion
must be meaningful! (I know it is).

So that
for those who still have a conscience
and some bravery left,
and some respect for themselves,
some honor
that they unexpectedly found
after having lost it (for a long time)
"strongly condemn"
"fiercely oppose"
the communist dictatorship regime,
ruthless and uncivilized,
wicked and barbaric,
ignorant at best,
lavishing the most,
delirious to the extreme,
deceitful as the gods !

everyone will find
the signification of their lives
to live for each other!
And to sacrifice for the human race,
for our brothers and sisters
created by our Creator
with Love!

I have a dream
that may not come true
in my life time,
and I venture to say/disclose/share
to cry out tragically
strongly and openly
to everyone to know

I am not a mute,
I have ears and not deaf,
I have eyes and not blind,
and I have a heart (unfortunately) that still vibrates
a conscience that is not toothless
because it still has teeth
(it bites me every day!
And God is my witness!)
I have a head that still thinks
and dreams
about the things that are sublime,
but they are really simple things,
such as
Honest and Brave characters
the moral foundation
of a person !

Will recreate and be the guardian
of this foundation?

(the little insignificant krill Le Thi Cong Nhan)
volunteer to lend
a hand."

The Rest

(The police, when insulting me, usually call me "the little brat, the
little devil, the little kid, ... too young but already committed
serious crimes". I decided that I will not consider it a sin whatever
names they call me because, when I look at myself, I am truly very
young. So, I call myself "The insignificant little krill" just for
fun !?!?)

Amnesty International urges release of Vietnam POCs on amnesty day



Viet Nam: Release prisoners of conscience
Index Number: ASA 41/001/2010
Date Published: 13 July 2010
Categories: Viet Nam

Amnesty International is calling for all prisoners of conscience to be
included in a major amnesty for prisoners, authorized by Viet Nam’s
President to mark National Day on 2 September 2010. The Ministry of
Public Security has said that between 25,000 to 30,000 prisoners will
be granted amnesty and released from prison before National Day...

Click here for full text.

Catholic beaten to death by Vietnamese police

In the latest in a series of official assaults against the Church in Vietnam, a Catholic layman was beaten to death by police for his protest against the seizure of his parish cemetery...

Click here for full article.

See also Eglises d'Asie report, which is more detailed.

Vinh Long nuns keep fighting for justice and truth

Their convent has already been bulldozed to build a public square but the defiant Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres in Vinh Long still refuse to let themselves submitted to injustice....

Click here for full article.

Agent Orange victims demand justice

The Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) has called on the US Congress and government to demonstrate their clearer responsibility for the consequences of the chemical warfare during the Vietnam War...

Click here for full article.

NZ PM seeks dialogue on Vietnam human rights issues

Hanoi, Vietnam July 11 NZPA - Human rights issues are a serious concern in Vietnam but Prime Minister John Key says improving New Zealand's relationship with the southeast Asian nation can help...

Click here for full article.

Clinton Urges Vietnam To Improve Its Human Rights Record

(RTTNews) - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who arrived in Vietnam Thursday on a two-day tour of the country made a call to improve its human rights record...

Click here for full article.

Vietnam publishes human rights magazine

HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam, often criticized by Western governments and international groups for its poor human rights record, has published the first issue of a human rights magazine to help counter what it calls "erroneous and hostile allegations," state media reported Thursday....

Click here for full article.

Vietnam Rights and Wrongs

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Hanoi today on a trip that, among other things, will mark the 15th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Vietnam and America. That time has seen a marked growth in trade and investment, which is all to the good. But Hanoi's human rights record has been decidedly mixed, and Mrs. Clinton has an opportunity to address those shortcomings on this visit...

Click here for full article

Vietnamese dissidents urge US to pressure Vietnam on human rights

Hanoi - Vietnamese dissidents on Thursday urged US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to raise human rights issues with Vietnam officials during her visit to Hanoi...
Click here for full text.