Vietnam Human Rights Defenders Weekly Jan 12-18: Ceremony Marking 95th Birthday of Late Hoa Hao Buddha Master Huynh Phu So Barred

Defenders’ Weekly | Jan 18, 2015

Defenders-weekly-11

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On Jan 15, Hoa Hao Buddhist followers have tried to gather in An Giang province to celebrate the 95th birthday of their late Buddha Master Huynh Phu So, however, local authorities sent police forces to bar and halt them from gathering.

Since Jan 5, prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Duyet has conducted hunger strike to protest human rights and religious freedom violations committed by prison’s authorities.

Vietnam’s unsanctioned Association to Protect Freedom of Religion has issued a report with a series of Vietnam’s violations of religious freedom in 2014.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has urged the EU to demand Vietnam to implement all the recommendations made by the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

and many other interesting news

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***********12/1/2015***********

HCM City Plan to Seize Land of Lien Tri Pagoda: Hot Spot regarding Land of Religious Facility

Venerable Thich Khong Tanh Commissioner for the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) informed that the People’s Committee of District 2 has demanded monks in Lien Tri Pagoda to abandon the pagoda since the local authorities will not allow any facility of religion in Thu Thiem.

Venerable Tanh said he has sent petitions to state leaders to ask for respect of religious freedom as well as protection of religious facility in Thu Thiem peninsula.

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Civil Societies Troubled by Hanoi Police During Funeral of AnhBaSam Blogger’s Mother

In the morning of Jan 12, representatives of many Vietnamese civil societies and activists came to the national funeral facility in Hanoi to pay tributes to the mother of blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh, co-founder of AnhBaSam news website. However, local thugs and secret agents in plain clothes arrogantly took banners of flowers with names of civil societies.

Secret agents did not allow flowers with banners from civil societies to be brought to the local cemetery.

Mr. Vinh was arrested in May last year accused of conducting anti-state propaganda. His father was a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, the decision-making body in the one-party regime.

His mother went away early last week.

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Political Prisoner Nguyen Van Duyet Conducting Hunger Strike to Protest Prison’s Violation of Religious Freedom

Since Jan 5, prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Duyet has conducted hunger strike to protest prison’s violations of human rights and religious freedom, informed his brother Nguyen Van Thu.

Particularly, officials of the prison had not allowed him to read Bible, and he sent a petition to protest, however, his petition was ignored.

Mr. Duyet is among Catholic followers arrested in 2011 for promoting multi-party democracy. He attended anti-China demonstrations in 2011 to protest Chinese violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea. 

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Political Prisoner Ngo Hao Removed to Quang Nam Province-based Prison

Political prisoner Ngo Hao, who had been jailed in the central province of Phu Yen, was removed to another prison in the central province of Quang Nam.

He will join other political prisoners in the new detention facility, including human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, four Christian followers in the Central Highlands and five of 22 members of  the Hoi Dong Cong Luat Cong An Bia Son or Bia Son Public Law Council.

Mr. Hao was the leader of the organization which was said by the communist government to conduct an outlawed Buddhism sect during 2004-2012.

In 2013, Vietnam arrested and tried the group’s members with hard sentences of between 10 and 17 years for compiling documents that defamed the party and state.

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Vietnam Seriously Violates Religious Freedom in 2014: Unsanctioned Religious Body

Vietnam seriously violated freedom of religion and belief in 2014, according to a report of an unsanctioned Association to Protect Freedom of Religion.

In its four quarterly reports for 2014, the association said Vietnam’s government agencies, especially police, seriously violated citizens’ rights of religious freedom which is enshrined in the country’s Constitution in 2013.

The Association to Protect Freedom of Religion cited a number of cases on which state authorities suppressed religions and followers, especially unsanctioned ones.

It has also asked the communist government to respect the freedom of religions and belief.

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An Giang Authorities Harass Former Political Prisoners Nguyen Thanh Phong, Nguyen Ngoc Ha

On Jan 15, couple Nguyen Thanh Phong and Nguyen Ngoc Ha, both are former prisoners of conscience, were barred by policemen in Cho Moi district in An Giang province from going to Quang Minh Tu Pagoda where they want to attend the 95th birthday anniversary of  Late Hoa Hao Buddha Master Huynh Phu So .

Local policemen stationed near their house on Jan 12-15 and when they tried to go out, the policemen came and demanded them to be back in their house.

Phong and Ha were arrested in 2005 by An Giang authorites, charged with conducting social disorders. He was sentenced to six years in prison while his wife Ha was tried to four years in jail.

Both are activists for human rights and religious freedom.

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Ceremony Marking 95th Birthday of Late Hoa Hao Buddha Master Huynh Phu So Barred

On Jan 15, Hoa Hao Buddhist followers have tried to gather in An Giang province to celebrate the 95th birthday of their late Buddha Master Huynh Phu So, however, local authorities sent police forces to bar and halt them from gathering.

Policemen, militia and thugs barred Hoa Hao Buddhist followers from gathering to Quang Minh Tu where they will pray and pay tributes for their late leader who was killed by communist in 1947.

Elder Master Vo Van Thanh Liem, head of Quang Minh Tu Pagoda said police halted followers’ attendance to the ceremony, and severely beat a number of followers.

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Families of Death-sentenced Ho Duy Hai, Nguyen Van Chuong Continue to Send Petitions for Reviewing Their Cases

Families of Ho Duy Hai and Nguyen Van Chuong, who were sentenced to death in two separate murder cases, have continued to send petitions to ask Vietnam’s authorities to review the cases.

The two families have showed a number of facts proving that both of them were not in the respective scenes at the moments the victims were killed.

They also said Hai and Chuong were forced to confess for offences they had not committed. The two were tortured by police investigators, they claimed.

The executions of Hai and Chuong were planned in late 2014 but were delayed for further review.

************17/1/2015*************

U.S. Diplomats Visits Saigon-based Lien Tri Pagoda

Political Officer Garett Harkins of the U.S. General Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City on Jan 14 made his second visit to Lien Tri Pagoda in a bid to obtain information regarding the city’s plan to seize land of the pagoda for building property project.

Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, the chief monk of the pagoda received the U.S.’s diplomat and shared the issue with great pressure of the city’s authorities which want to remove the pagoda out of its land.

In turn, Mr. Harkins expressed deep concerns of the General Consulate about the situation of the pagoda.

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EU Should Press Hanoi to Enhance Human Rights: FIDH

The European Union (EU) must use upcoming talks with Vietnam to demand that Hanoi urgently address serious human rights violations, said International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR).

The two organizations made the call ahead of the fifth EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, which is scheduled to be held in Brussels on 19 January.

“As the human rights situation in Vietnam shows no signs of improvement, the EU must use the dialogue to present clear, measurable, and time-bound recommendations for the Vietnamese government to implement,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

EU recommendations must include an end to the harassment and arbitrary arrest of bloggers, activists, religious followers, and human rights defenders as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.

The EU must also demand that Vietnam urgently repeal or amend various provisions of the Criminal Code that authorities continue to use to imprison peaceful dissidents. In addition to Article 258, other draconian provisions that are not in line with international law include: Article 79, which sanctions “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration”; Article 87, which punishes activities “undermining national solidarity, sowing divisions between religious and non-religious people”; and Article 88, which outlaws “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

With regard to economic, social, and cultural rights, the EU must urge Vietnam to implement all the recommendations made by the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on Dec 15, 2014. The CESCR’s concluding observations echoed the findings and recommendations contained in a report jointly released by FIDH and VCHR on 11 November 2014 that documented serious and ongoing violations of economic, social, and cultural rights in Vietnam.