Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Mar 16-22: Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience Holds Seminar Themed “Vietnam Parliament” ahead of IPU-132

Defenders’ Weekly | Mar 22, 2015

Defenders-weekly

On Mar 17, the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience held its first national congress on which delegated worked on action plan and elected the Steering Committee for the 2015-2016 term as well as participated in a seminar on the roles of Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly in the country’s socio-economic issues.

On the same day, U.S.  Consul General Rena Bitter in Ho Chi Minh City visited Thanh Minh Pagoda and met with Venerable Thich Quang Do to discuss issues related to the Delegation of Vietnamese United Buddhists Church.

On Mar 18, representatives of the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights visited activists Ha Thanh and Tien Son, members of the Oppressed Petitioners Solidarity Movement. Two days earlier, the duo were brutally attacked by thugs when they returned home from Duong Noi village.

Mr. Pham Ba Hai, co-ordinator of the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience met with a delegation of legislators of  Bavaria, the German southeastern state. The German delegation, consists of Mr. Markus Gánerer, Tobias Reish, and Alexander Huttinger is on its visit to Vietnam at the invitation of the Vietnamese parliament.

and other news.

**********16/3/2015********

Authorities of Hue Deport Religious Clerks at Night

Mr. Hua Phi, co-president of the Council of Religion Alliance, told the Vietnam Redemptory News (VRNs) that the authorities of the central city of Hue at night of Mar 16 came to the hotel where 12 clerks of Buddhist, Cao Dai and Protestant Church are staying, and ordered them to immediately leave the city.

The religious clerk delegation was scheduled to meet with war veterans who served for the Saigon regime on Mar 15 at Phuoc Thanh Church. However, the local authorities halted the meeting.

VRNs: Huế trục xuất các chức sắc tôn giáo trong đêm

*********17/3/2015**********

Vietnamese Americans to Cycle Across U.S. to Honor U.S. Fallen Soldiers in Vietnam War

On Mar 19, a three-member group of Vietnamese Americans will launch a cycling tour across the U.S. in order to gain a fund for honoring U.S. soldiers fallen in the Vietnam War in Kennedy Center.

The tour will start from Oceanside, California on May 25.

The three cyclists are members of Xe Dap Viet group which consists of hundreds of Vietnamese Americans in San Jose and surrounding localities.

The trio targets to collect $35,000. So far, it has gained $4,368.

Machsong: Yểm trợ chương trình vinh danh và tri ân — Giải thoát nạn nhân buôn người

*********18/3/2015*********

Seminar Themed “Vietnam Parliament” ahead of IPU-132

On Mar 17, the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience held a seminar on the roles of Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly in the country’s socio-economic issues, two weeks ahead of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly (IPU-132).

The event attracted participation of dozens of journalists, experts and social activists. Participants discussed on Vietnam’s state institutions and Constitution which serve to protect the ruling communist party’s political dominance in the Southeast Asian nation.

They also worked on a draft petition of Vietnam’s unsanctioned civil societies on Vietnam’s human rights violations which will be sent to the IPU.

The IPU-132 is slated in Hanoi on March 28-April 1, with participation of over 160 international delegations.

CTNLT: Hội CTNLT Với Hội Thảo Về “Quốc Hội Việt Nam” Trước Hội Nghị IPU

********19/3/2015*********

U.S.  Consul General Visits Ven. Thich Quang Do in Saigon-based Thanh Minh Pagoda

On Mar 18, U.S.  Consul General Rena Bitter in Ho Chi Minh City visited Thanh Minh Pagoda and met with Venerable Thich Quang Do to discuss issues related to the Delegation of Vietnamese United Buddhists Church.

During the meeting, Ms. Bitter reaffirmed that the U.S. always prioritizes human rights and freedom of religion in dialogues with the Vietnamese communist government.

Ven. Do said Vietnam’s economy has improved but the social gap has widened as communist officials have become very rich with rampant corruption and bribery while many people remain landless.

The communist education system has seriously affected young Vietnamese generations and the social moral became at alarming level.

PTTPQGT: THÔNG CÁO BÁO CHÍ LÀM TẠI PARIS NGÀY 18.3.2015 Bà Rena Bitter, Tổng Lãnh sự Hoa Kỳ, đến Thanh Minh Thiền Viện vấn an và trao đổi với Đức Tăng Thống Thích Quảng Độ về tình hình Giáo hội Phật giáo Việt Nam Thống nhất

**************20/3/2015*************

Vietnam Former Prisoners of Conscience Holds National Congress, Pledging to Continue Fighting for Democracy, Human Rights

The Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience (FVPoC) on Mar 17 held its first National Congress in Saigon, committing to promote human rights and democracy in the communist nation in the South Asia.

Over 40 former prisoners of conscience from all parts of the country gathered in Ky Dong Redemptory’s Church to attend the event. Many others couldn’t take part in due to their house arrest while security forces blocked a number of former political prisoners, not allowing them to came to the conference.

During the one-day meeting, the delegates reviewed the activities of the FVPoC since its establishment in February last year, worked on the acting plan for the 2015-2016 period, and elected the new seven-member steering committee, led by Co-President Dr. Nguyen Dan Que and Catholic priest Phan Van Loi. Master Pham Ba Hai, lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and pastor Nguyen Trung Ton were elected to be co-coordinators while Venerable Thich Khong Tanh will be chairman of the Advisory council. Dr. Pham Chi Dung, who is president of the Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam, will be the spokesman of the FVPoC for the 2015-2016 term.

Since the establishment, the FVPoC, the unsanctioned organization of people who were imprisoned by the communist government for peaceful expression of opinions or fighting for human rights, including the right of religious freedom and land right, has supported its members mentally and materially to overcome the harassments of authorities in their localities.

Members of the steering committee have travelled across the nation to meet with former prisoners of consciences after they were released, visited them when they met difficulties and encouraged them to continue to fight for multi-party democracy and promote human rights.

Representatives of the FVPoC have also met with many foreign diplomats in Vietnam and foreign delegations to report the Vietnamese violations of human rights, the on-going political suppression of the communist government, and urged them to use diplomatic measures to pressure Vietnam to release all prisoners of consciences.

The FVPoC has also closely coordinated with nearly 20 other unsanctioned civil organizations to voice about important issues in the country regarding democracy and human rights. A number of press releases and petitions initiated by the FVPoC and other civil bodies have warned the public about the government’s violations to human rights nationwide.

During the conference, the delegates worked on an open letter of the unsanctioned civil bodies which will be sent to the 132nd Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly (IPU-132) slated in Hanoi on Mar 28-Apr 1 in a bid to call on Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly to work for the nation but not for the ruling communist nation, and to promote human rights in the country.

The delegates also debated on the plan of setting up a National Committee for Action which consists of representatives of unsanctioned civil bodies to work on important matters of the country and find measures to solve the nation’s problems as well as deal with human rights violations. According to the draft, the to-be-established committee will organize online meeting regularly or meeting to respond to particular human rights violation case.

There is no exact number of the former prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, but the number may be thousands, and most of them are living in the country. According to the FVPoC, the communist government is still holding 102 prisoners of conscience.

After completing their sentences, prisoners of conscience continue to face harassment of the communist nation. Along of being under constant government surveillance and persecution, they face many difficulties in travelling and earning for living.

RFA: Đại hội đầu tiên của Hội Cựu tù nhân lương tâm

===================

Representatives of Vietnamese Women for Human Rights  Visit Two Activists Beaten Severely by Thugs

On Mar 18, representatives of the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights visited activists Ha Thanh and Tien Son, members of the Oppressed Petitioners Solidarity Movement. Two days earlier, the duo were brutally attacked by thugs when they returned home from Duong Noi village.

The representatives, on behalf of the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, presented VND2 million to every activist who was attacked by mobs after taking part in handing over 80 scholarships to Duong Noi students.

In 2014, Ha Thanh, Tien Son and their friends established the Oppressed Petitioners Solidarity Movement which has provided material and mental assistance collected from people across the nation and abroad to land petitioners nationwide.

Due to their goodwill activities, Vietnam’s authorities have sent thugs to attack them.

FB ThuyNga: Hội PNNQ viếng thăm anh Tiến Sơn và Hà Thanh của nhóm Cứu Lấy Dân Oan

======================

Vietnam’s Parliament is Tool for Ruling Communist Party: Activist Pham Ba Hai

Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly (NA) has been done nothing to deal with human rights violation in the country, said Mr. Pham Ba Hai, co-ordinator of the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience (FVPoC).

The FVPoC has sent a report on human rights violations in Vietnam to the NA but received no response from the country’s parliament, Hai said, adding the parliament works for the ruling communist party but not for people.

Vietnam’s unsanctioned civil organizations, including the FVPoC, will unveil this character of the Vietnamese parliament with foreign guests, Mr. Hai said.

The FVPoC will work with other unsanctioned civil organizations to promote amendments of current laws and the role of citizens in election in order to enhance democracy in the country, he noted.

The civil societies need to work to promote people’s understanding on their political rights and exercising these rights, he added.

VRNs: CTNLT Phạm Bá Hải: Quốc hội VN là công cụ phục vụ cho ĐCS

=================

FVPoC Representative Meet with Legislators from Germany’s Bavaria State

Mr. Pham Ba Hai, coordinator of the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience, met with Markus Gánerer, Tobias Reish, and Alexander Huttinger, members of the Germany’s Bavaria State parliament who were visiting Vietnam at the invitation of the National Assembly.

During the meeting, Mr. Hai said foreign economic assistance for the Vietnamese communist government has not resulted in Hanoi’s resection of its commitment on human rights if the donors have not demanded its requirements along with the assistance.

With assistance from foreign countries, Vietnam’s economy will become stronger and the government will intensify its political crackdown to suppress local dissent. Activists have been troubled in getting jobs and housing, they have also been harassed and persecuted. The communist government has imprisoned numerous political dissidents under severe conditions, Mr. Hai said.

Foreign countries should pressure Vietnam, demanding it to change its Penal Code which seriously violates human rights. Lawmakers from other countries should be aware when they came to work with Vietnam, Mr. Hai noted.

Le Quoc Quyet, a younger brother of imprisoned human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, was also at the meeting. Mr. Quan ‘s 30-month imprisonment will end in late June.

CTNLT: Hội CTNLT gặp phái đoàn dân biểu Quốc hội Tiểu Bang Bavaria, Đức

*****************21/3/2015**************

Hanoi Demands Probing Massive Tree Chopping, Several Cadres Suspended

 Chairman Nguyen The Thao of Hanoi People’s Committee has decided to set up a inter-sector team to inspect a project which aims to massively cut down thousands of aged trees in city’s streets, Vietnam’s state-run media reported.

Along investigating responsibilities of the leadership of the city’s Department of Construction, Mr. Thao suspended duties some state officials involving in felling over 2,000 aged trees.

Earlier this month, the Department of Construction started the project which targets to chop 6,700 aged trees, many of which are in the red list.

The city said that the project has sought to replace old and ill trees with younger trees from varieties suitable for modern city.

However, public said most of the cut trees are healthy. Some of them were planted during the French colonial period.

While many praised Thao’s decision, many other have questioned the responsibilities of the chairman himself and of Pham Quang Nghi, the communist secretary of the capital city.

Only officials at department levels were disciplined while other senior officials will stay intake, observers said.

Hanoi said it will replace aged valuable trees with Magnolia dandyi, however, the replaced trees are Magnolia conifer which are less valuable and are not suitable for planting in street, scientists said.

The plan to massively fell trees in Hanoi’s streets has met strong protest from local residents and other Vietnamese across the nation. Thousands of them have taken to street in Hanoi with banners calling the authorities to suspend the plan.

Some have accused the Hanoi’s leadership of taking profit from the project. The city allocated VND73 billion ($3.4 million) on chopping down the trees for the next three years, and the money from timber sale may hit VND600 billion.

Due to strong public cry, Mr. Thao on Mar 20 asked to suspend felling tree for further examination.

Many civil organizations say they will continue their protest until Hanoi stops the project.

for further reading: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/03/21/hanoi-suspends-chopping-down-trees-amid-strong-local-protests/

BBC: Hà Nội ‘dừng chặt cây do áp lực dư luận’

**********22/3/2015**********

Vietnamese Dissident Awarded with Norway Union Freedom of Expression Prize

Vietnamese writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, who is currently under a three-year house arrest, has been honored with the Freedom of Expression Prize of the Norwegian Authors’ Union for his writings to promote multi-party democracy and human rights.

Mr. Nghia, 64, is a poet, writer and journalist. He is a member of the Haiphong Writers’ Association and one of founders of the 8406 Bloc, a banned pro-democracy organization in Vietnam.

His writings have been banned since 2003 as they promote multi-party democracy and human rights in the communist nation.

In 2008, Mr. Nghia, together with numerous activists, writers and bloggers, was arrested and charged for conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code and later sentenced to six years in prison in unfair trials. Mr. Nghia’s prison term ended in September last year, but he is still under house arrest.

During the imprisonment, his health seriously deteriorated as prison’s authorities denied providing healthcare services to treat his several severe diseases.

The Freedom of Expression Award of the Norwegian Authors’ Union was given as a gift from Norway’s Ministry of Culture on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Union since 1993. The price is currently 200,000 krones and will go to a Norwegian or foreign writer who has excelled in protecting freedom of expression and tolerance in the broadest sense.

Since Mr. Nghia is not allowed to travel abroad, his wife Nguyen Thi Nga will present him to receive the award at a ceremony held on Mar 22 at Hotel Bristol in Oslo.

This is the fourth international prizes of Mr. Nghia. In 2013, he was honored with the Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC).

In 2007, the Haiphong city-based writer was among a group of eight Vietnamese activists who received Hellman/Hammett awards of the New York-based Human Rights Watch in recognition of the courage they showed when facing political persecution.

In 2011, the Human Rights Watch honored him for the second time.

According to international human rights bodies, Vietnam is holding over 200 political dissidents, including over 30 bloggers.

Dânluân: Hội Nhà Văn Nauy trao giải thưởng Tự Do Ngôn Luận 2014 cho nhà văn Nguyễn Xuân Nghĩa