July 28- August 3 Defender’s Weekly: Vietnam still violates religious freedom
Defend the Defenders | 4/8/2014
[themify_box style=”blue info rounded” ]At a press conference on July 31, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt said that Vietnam has “serious violations” of religious freedom despite some progress on easing tight state control of matters of faith. He said that he was followed by security agents while invited social activists for meeting with him were blocked . On the same day, the communist party committee in Ho Chi Minh City expelled Nguyen Dang Trung from the party as Trung, as the head of the city’s Bar Association wanted to depolitize legal activities.[/themify_box]
Catholic father from the Vinh diocese voices against land grabbing in Quynh Luu district
Catholic father Anton Nguyen Van Dinh from Thuan Nghia parish in the Vinh diocese has sent a letter to local authorities condemning the seizure of land belonging to followers in the parish by the district authorities.
“During the past few days, people in the parish came and asked me to voice and protect their land interest. They informed that authorities in Cau Giat commune used numerous armed forces to seize their land. Many other are concerned that their land will also be taken by the local authorities while their petition are yet to be responded,” the father said in his letter.
Vietnam Thoi Bao website hacked
Vietnam Thoi Bao, a website of the newly-estalished Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam was hacked on July 27-31, making thousands of readers unable to read its news.
According to the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, the hacking is conducted by attack of state security force. They attacked and denied access of its website.
The attack against the website was occured after at least 30 fabook accounts of political dissidents and social activists were closed due to abuse reports conducted by pro-government people.
Thai Ha Condemptorist Church holds mass praying for freedom of expression
The Hanoi-based Thai Ha Church in the evening of July 29 held a mass praying for freedom of expression with participation of around 5,000 followers and non-Christian social activists. The ceremony was taken by Father Gioan Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong who emphasized the importance of freedom of expression. Currently, the rights of expression freedom is being violated, he said in his speech, adding bloggers Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka AnhBaSam) and his assistance Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy were arested recently for voicing human rights as well as country’s sovereignty amid China’s increasing aggresiveness in the East Sea.
Six Groups of Vietnamese Banned from Working for Foreign Organizations
The government of Vietnam has released a decree to ban six groups of local people from working for foreign institutions.
According to the Labor Code on the recruitment and management of Vietnamese employees working for foreign organizations and individuals in Vietnam, the first group includes officers, professional soldiers, noncommissioned officers, soldiers, defense workers and officials in the Vietnam People’s Army; officers and noncommissioned officers trained at police schools, officers and noncommissioned officers trained at other schools, trainees, workers, civil servants and employees of the Ministry of Public Security; and people engaged in cipher activities.
The second group includes cadres and civil servants as defined in the Law on Cadres and Civil Servants while the third group comprises people whose work is related to state secrets.
The fourth group consists of husbands and wives of people whose work is related to state secrets.
The fifth group covers those who have been disciplined for acts of disclosing state secrets of national security.
The last group includes people who are being considered for criminal liability or are serving a court verdict, or people whose criminal records are not yet cleared or those who are still in periods in which they are banned by the Penal Code from practicing or doing certain jobs.
The decree, to take effect on Sept 15, defines foreign organizations in Vietnam as “foreign agencies or organizations that are allowed by competent Vietnamese agencies to operate within the territory of Vietnam.”
They include diplomatic representative agencies; foreign consular agencies; representative offices of international organizations belonging to the United Nations; regional and sub-regional organizations; permanent offices of news agencies, newspapers, broadcast or television stations; and international organizations, inter-governmental organizations, and organizations under foreign governments.
Other kinds of foreign agencies are non-governmental organizations and non-profit representative offices of foreign economic, trade, financial, banking, insurance, scientific, technical, cultural, educational, health, and legal consulting organizations in Vietnam.
U.S. Does not designate Vietnam in CPC
The U.S. has not designated Vietnam in the list of countries of particular concerns (CPC), according to the annual report of the Department of State on religious freedom in 2013.
On the report announced by Secretary John Kerry, the U.S. focused on discrimination and bad treatments against ethnic minorities worldwide, which forced millions of ethnic minorities leave their home land to seek shelter in other places.
The U.S. removed Vietnam out of the list of CPC in 2006 and it has not designated the communist nation on the CPC list although the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom proposed many times.
However, in the part about Vietnam, the 2013’s report of the U.S. State Department said the religious freedom is enshrined in Vietnam’s Constitution and laws, however, in fact, Hanoi’s government is implementing a number of measures to halt religious freedom.
Vietnam Former Officials Call on Communist Party to Reject Socialism
A group of 61 former Vietnamese senior officials have sent an open letter to the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) urging the party to reject the socialist path and turn into a nationalist one.
The group includes former Vietnam ambassador to China Lieutenant-General Nguyen Trong Vinh, Lieutenant-General Le Duy Mat, former Vietnam ambassador to Thailand Nguyen Trung, and former prime minister advisers—outspoken Professor Tuong Lai and Vu Quoc Tuan.
In their letter sent to incumbent senior leaders of the party, the state president, the prime minister and the chairman of the country’s legislative body National Assembly, the petitioners said the one-party regime is the main reason for widespread corruption, economic mismanagement, moral degrading and above of all is the Chinese issues.
The CPV still considers China as its closest political ally although China has applied a number of policies to invade the country’s land and islands and waters as well as flood Vietnamese market with substandard goods, the former cadres said.
The authors of the open letter say their own leaders are to blame, accusing them of weakness and collusion in their dealings with China’s expansionism.
They want the Vietnamese government to publicize results of a secret summit in 1990 between communist leaders of Vietnam and China in which Vietnam is alleged to have secretly handed over territory to its giant neighbor.
They urged the ruling party to conduct political reforms and promote democracy which will help the country overcome difficulties and push back rampant corruption. They demand the communist government to end arrests and harassments against political dissidents and social activists and free prisoners of conscience.
Vietnam Security forces block local bloggers from attending press freedom conference organized by the Australian Embassy in Hanoi
A number of Vietnamese political dissidents and online bloggers were invited by the Austalian Embassy in Hanoi to attend a seminar entitled “Modern Non-State Media in Vietnam” held within the embassy on July 30. However, many of them were blocked from attending the event.
Blogger Thuy Nga, who was invited to participate in the seminar, informed that during the late night of July 29 and the early morning of July 30, she and her roomate were waked up by a motel owner and policemen who wanted to expell the couple immediately. The two women refused to open their room while numerous policemen blocked the motel. The purpose of police is not to allow Nga to take part in the seminar, she said.
Nga and the other woman named Huynh Phuong Ngoc are members of the Vietnam Women Human Rights Association.
Blog Như cây tre: Lời của kẻ vắng mặt
Blog Như cây tre: A speech from an absent invited
Three Hmong people sentenced under Article 258 of Criminal Code
On July 31, the People’s Court of Ngan Son district in Bac Kan province charged three Hmong people with accusation of abusing democratic freedom under Article 258 of the Criminal Code.
Duong Van Thanh, Hoang Van Su and Hoang Van Sinh were arrested in February. The first received a 24-month imprisonment while Su and Sinh are jaied for 18 and 15 months, respectively.
Press conference for preliminary results of the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion
On July 31, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt held a press conference at the UN Development Program (UNDP)’s office in Hanoi, during which the visited official informed the premilinary results of his ten-day trip to Hanoi, Saigon and the southwestern region.
The expert said that his 10-day visit, which began on July 21, had been “unfortunately interrupted” by police and security agents. During his time in Vietnam, he planned to work with representatives of religious communities, civil society organizations and UN workers.
Mr. Bielefeldt said he was unable to speak freely to people, particularly with people he met as they were followed or questioned and others warned or blocked from seeing him.
During the visit, he was told of “concrete violations including repeated summons by police, harassment, house arrest, imprisonment, destruction of houses of worship, vandalism, beatings.”
Mr. Bielefeldt said his plan to visit An Giang, Gia Lai and Kon Tum on July 28-30 was distrupted. He said he received information saying those social activists and religious clerks whom he wants to meet were under close surveillance of police. Other people were harrased and interogated by police after meeting him, Mr. Bielefeldt noted.
Even, plain clothed security agents closely followed him, the move is a serious violation to the framework of a visit to any country, he said.
Mạch sống: Đàn áp tôn giáo vẫn trầm trọng ở Việt Nam
CPV expells Nguyen Dang Trung, head of the HCM City Bar
The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City on July 31 took a decision to expell its member Nguyen Dang Trung, head of the city’s Bar.
Mr. Trung was accused of conducting actities which harm the party and the government. Actually, Mr. Dang objected to politization of the bar feredation. He has fought for the independence of the bar federation which is very difficult task in the communist nation.
The move of the HCM City’s party committee is done to prevent him from declaring to leave the party which should be a political loss for the ruling party.
In late 2013, three Ho Chi Minh City-based senior officials named Le Hieu Dang, Pham Chi Dung and Nguyen Dac Dien announced to leave the ruling party as they found the party unable to cope with a systemic corruption, economic mismanagement, moral degrading and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty.
Social activist Pham Le Vuong Cac detained in airport after taking human rights promotion campaign abroad
On Aug 1, Human rights activist Pham Le Vuong Cac, who participated a campaign to promote Vietnam’s human rights in Universal Periodic Report (UPR) in Europe in June, was detained by security forces in Tan Son Nhat International Airport after he returned home.
Mr. Cac is a bloggerand a legal activist. He, together with other social activists representing ten Vietnam’s civil societies such as Dr. Nguyen Quang A, lawyers Nguyen Thi Vy Hanh and Trinh Huu Long, attended official meetings and delivered a speech on Vietnam’s human rights situation before UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.
House Representatives Call on U.S. to Lift Weapon Embargo on Vietnam
Two Representatives of U.S. House, the lower chamber of the bicameral Congress, have introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on President Barack Obama’s administration to remove the lethal weapon embargo imposed over Vietnam.
In their Legislation on Asia-Pacific Maritime Disputes introduced July 31, Rep. J. Randy Forbes, chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. should deepen and expand the comprehensive partnership with Vietnam through the sale or transfer of its defense equipment and weapons appropriate for the development and maintenance of Vietnam’s external defense capacity.
The U.S. should exclude those items that can be used to suppress protesters, for crowd control, or for other domestic security purposes, the resolution states.
In their document, the two U.S. lawmakers condemned the Chinese unilateral aggressive moves in the East Sea which aim to assert its illegal claim of nearly the entire sea, and called on the U.S. government to take proper measures to protect its national interests of freedom of navigation in Asia-Pacific.
Former political prisoner Chu Manh Son protests wrongdoings of Phuc Thanh commune’s police
On July 28, former prisoner of conscience Chu Manh Son worked with the police of Phuc Thanh commune, Yen Thanh district in Nghe An province, at the communal building.
The local police requested him to report his activities on July 22-25.
Policeman Tran Van Cong, deputy head of the communal police, made a report with wrong facts and asked him to sign in, Mr. Son said. Of course, he refused to sign in the document with unreliable content,
Summary by Nguyen Thanh Thuy
Translation by [rollinglinks]Vu Quoc Ngu[/rollinglinks]
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