Vietnam Human Right Defenders’ Weekly March 9-15, 2015: Gac Ma Commemoration Disturbed by Pro-government Supporters
Defenders’ Weekly | Mar 15, 2015
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A group of pro-government supporters with communist flag tried to disturb a meeting in Hanoi on Sunday on which activists commemorated Gac Ma (Johnson South Reef) fallen soldiers killed by China in 1988. The supporters members of the city’s communist unions attacked some of people participating in the event.
Nearly twenty civil organizations in Vietnam and 160 people have signed a petition calling on Vietnamese citizens to participate in a campaign to promote democracy, freedom and human rights for the country in 2015.
The UN Human Right Council expressed its concerns about Vietnam’s worsening freedom of religion.
Vietnam started building of a monument to commemorate Gac Ma soldiers killed by China 27 years ago.
and other news.
UN Special Reporter on Religious Freedom to Present His Annual Report, Including His Visit to Vietnam in 2014
UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Heiner Bielefeldt on Mar 11 will present his annual report, including the report on his visit to Vietnam in 2014.
On Mar 5, at a meeting of UN Human Right Council, in his annual report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said “In Viet Nam, independent writers, bloggers and human rights activists have faced harassment by the police and authorities; arrest; detention in harsh conditions; and criminal convictions — in some cases with severe sentences, under vaguely defined crimes such as “disseminating materials deemed to oppose the government”, or “promoting reactionary ideas”. The Government restricts independent media, and closely controls publications, radio and TV stations, as well as restricting access to the Internet.”
The head of Vietnam’s delegation rejected the accusation.
On the same day, the UN Human Right Council issued a resolution on the importance of protection of human rights of International Parliament Union.
How Rural Woman to Become Net-Citizen?
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Kim Lien, the mother of two prisoners of conscience Dinh Nguyen Kha and Dinh Nhat Uy, has exploited advantages of Internet to share information about human rights violations in Vietnam to alert foreigners about the issue.
She has also shared her family’s challenges and difficulties as the Vietnamese government has intensified crackdown against local activists.
From a ordinary woman living in a rural areas in the Mekong Delta, Mrs. Lien became an active net citizen.
UN Report: Religious Freedom in Vietnam Violated
The freedom of religion in Vietnam was discussed by the UN Human Right Council in its meeting on March 11-12.
So far, the official report has not been released but there are many documents presenting the real situation of religious freedom in Vietnam. Although religions have certain level of authority, the religious freedom in Vietnam has been violated due to government’s policies and threats. In order to enucleate its suppression, the government often uses national unity or public security as reasons for harassment.
In August last year, a delegation of UN’s experts on religious freedom and beliefs visited Vietnam. The delegation was allowed to make trips across the nation, however, it was forbidden to go to certain places, especially in the Central Highlands and An Giang. Many people with whom the delegation wanted to meet were under house arrest or harassed during the ten-day stay of the delegation in the communist nation.
Vietnam Activists Launches Campaign for Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights in 2015
Nearly 20 civil organizations in Vietnam and 160 people have called on other people to participate in a campaign which aims to promote freedom, democracy and human rights in the country in 2015.
The call marked the 40-year ruling of the communist party which is preparing for its leadership to be presented in the party’s National Congress slated in 2016 in the next five years.
According to the organizers and signed activists, Vietnam’s government has not been respecting basic human rights of people, who are not allowed to take part in protection of the country’s sovereignty. It has used controversial articles such as 79, 88 and 258 in the Penal Code to silence local dissidents who have bravely criticized the government’s weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty as well as human rights violations across the nation.
The activists also reported the fear of citizens as the communist government has intensified political suppression. The campaign will provide a chance for Vietnamese people to overcome the fear to sign a open letter which will be sent to UN Human Rights Council and other international human rights mechanisms to warn human rights violations in Vietnam.
International Community Condemns Vietnam’s Religious Freedom Violations
On Mar 10-11, Vietnam’s religious freedom violations were raised at a UN meeting and U.S. Senate hearing.
On Tuesday, Heiner Bielefeldt, UN special rapporter on religious freedom and beliefs delivered a report on his visit to Vietnam in July last year.
He said that Vietnam has “serious violations” of religious freedom despite some progress on easing tight state control of matters of faith.
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.”
Vietnam’s government prevented, threatened and attacked many people who had met or scheduled to meet UN’s delegation.
Meanwhile, prior to the Senate’s hearing, Senator Lankford received many letters from Vietnamese Americans who expressed their concerns about religious freedom violations in Vietnam.
Vietnam Builds Monument to Commemorate Gac Ma Fallen Soldiers Killed by China in 1988
Vietnam on March 14 started construction of a monument in the central province of Khanh Hoa to commemorate soldiers killed by China in Gac Ma in 1988.
The monument, to be built at costs of VND17 billion, is expected to be completed in 2016.
Twenty and seven years ago, 64 Vietnamese soldiers stationing in Gac Ma were brutally shot when China’s naval forces attacked the reef. Later, China invaded other seven Vietnamese reefs, including Co Lin and Len Dao. Since the beginning of 2014, China has been rushing to build cement islands and military facilities in Gac Ma and adjacent reefs despite strong protests from Vietnam.
Civil organizations have called on Vietnamese people to attend the meetings in Hanoi and Saigon to pay tributes to the fallen soldiers on March 14.
Vietnam Inter-Religion Council Protests Hue Banning Meeting with War Veterans
On Mar 10, the authorities in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue demanded monks in Hue city-based Phuoc Thanh Pagoda not to organize a meeting with Vietnam War veterans who served for the U.S.-backed Saigon regime.
They threatened to use “strong measures” if the monks continue to hold the meeting at which a number of the Vietnam Inter-Religion Council planned to attend.
Local police also met invited veterans and confiscated their invitations. Veterans were forced to make commitment not to go to the meeting.
The Vietnam Inter-Religion Council condemned the move of Hue’s authorities, saying the move violates religious freedom in Vietnam.
Hanoi-based Pro-government Thugs Seek to Disturb Gac Ma Commemoration
The meeting of activists in Hanoi on Mar 14 to commemorate the Gac Ma fallen soldiers was disturbed by a group of pro-government thugs.
Speaking to BBC, Hanoi-based blogger said on Saturday morning, about 300 activists gathered near the Ly Thai To monument in the capital city to pay tribute to the soldiers who were killed by China in 1988 in Gac Ma.
However, the meeting was troubled by a group of thugs who selves declare as public opinion shapers, which are paid pro-government activists who work to propagandize the policies of the ruling communist party and its government.
The thugs, with red communist flags, tried to quarrel with activists. They even clashed with women and children as well as a monk participating in the commemoration.
Hanoi-based Activist Attacked by Plainclothes Agents after Participating in Gac Ma Commemoration
Vu Quoc Ngu, an human rights activist in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, has been beaten by local plainclothes agents while returned from a meeting to pay a tribute to the fallen soldiers killed by China in Gac Ma (Johnson South Reef) in the city’s center.
Mr. Ngu was attacked by two agents on the road at lunch time on Saturday, just one kilometer from his house in Thanh Tri district. He recognized one of the attackers is the policeman who has been tasked to follow him for months.
The attackers kicked and used his helmet to beat the activist and drove away from the scene when other travelers came. One of people said that the assailants hid their motorbike’s registration.
Latter, Mr. Ngu called the security chief in Thanh Tri district who is responsible for the government’s surveillance against local activists to question about the attack. However, the police officer denied to have ordered his subordinates for carrying out such illegal moves.
Earlier in the morning, when Mr. Ngu left his house to go to the meeting, he was followed by a plainclothes agent.
When the commemoration ended and Mr. Ngu went to take his motorbike from a parking lot in the city’s center, he found that someone put debris into his vehicle’s lock, making it un-operational. He had to go to a technical maintenance facility to get the motor fixed.
Ngu is not first human rights activist being attacked by plainclothes agents in Hanoi recently. Democracy fighter Nguyen Van Dai, labor activist Tran Thi Nga, human rights activist Nguyen Bac Truyen were severely beaten by plainclothes agents last year in the capital city.
In order to keep the country under one-party regime, Vietnam’s communist government has tolerated any dissent. In its 2014/2015 Report released on Feb. 25, the Amnesty International said Vietnam’s security officers harassed and physically attacked peaceful activists, and held them in short-term detention.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Vietnamese activists gathered in Hanoi’s center to mark the 27th anniversary of Gac Ma’s loss to China. In 1988, China’s naval forces attacked the reef, killing nearly 70 Vietnamese soldiers stationing there.
Later, China militarily invaded seven other reefs controlled by Vietnam on Truong Sa (Spratlys).
Vietnam’s state-media sometime recalled the event, however, the communist government has not organized large-scale demonstration to condemn China’s bloody attack although Hanoi has reiterated its sovereignty over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracels), which is also illegally occupied by Beijing.
The Gac Ma commemoration in Hanoi on Saturday was not troubled by security forces, however, the government-support activists tried to disturb while Hanoi’s authorities sent their people to occupy the places where the real patriotic activists want to lay their intense and flowers.
Since the beginning of 2014, China has been rushing to build cement islands and military facilities in Gac Ma and other reefs in a bid to solidify its illegal claim over Truong Sa and as well as nearly 90% of waters in the resource-rich East Sea.
Hanoi verbally protested the Chinese illegal moves. However, no specific activities have been made, said observers.
On the same time, Hanoi has held a number of anti-China activists, including lawyer Le Quoc Quan and Bui Thi Minh Hang.
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