July 13, 2015
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly July 6-12: We Are One Calls for Participating in World Hunger Strike Day for Freedom of Prisoners of Conscience in Vietnam
Defenders’ Weekly | Jul 12, 2015
The Organization Board of We Are One movement has called on those individuals and groups having interest on Vietnam’s human rights situation to participate in or support or help the organizers to disseminate information about a world hunger strike day for Vietnamese prisoners of conscience set for July 25-26.
Human rights is one of key topics addressed at talks between President Barack Obama and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam during the latter’s visit to the White House on July 7. Prior to the meeting, nine number of American lawmakers signed a joint letter urging President Obama to suppress Vietnam on human rights.
The Vietnam Human Rights Network has called on Vietnamese organizations to introduce their candidates for Vietnam Human Rights Prize 2015 which will be delivered to the winner in December in New York.
The Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights has sent a report to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to unveil discriminations against local women by Vietnam’s government.
And many other important news.
===========July 06, 2015============
World Hunger Strike Day for Prisoners of Conscience in Vietnam
WE ARE ONE movement – together we unite and fight for Human Rights prisoners’ freedom in Vietnam – decided to select the date July 25, 2015 as the World Hunger Strike Day for Freedom of Conscience Prisoners in Vietnam.
This “World Hunger Strike Day for Freedom of Conscience Prisoners in Vietnam” is the next step of WE ARE ONE Movement, nhanquyen2015.net, which is to condemn the serious violations of Human Rights conducted by the Vietnamese government, to request the UN Human Rights Council and its nation members to take appropriate measure to address these human rights violations.
The movement calls on all people around the world who care about Human Rights conditions in Vietnam to join, share and spread information regarding to these crimes to the whole world, to call on the world communities’ considerations and supports, and to pressure the Vietnamese government to comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it has committed to apply.
It invites relevant human rights authorities, press and media agencies to witness and monitor at our hunger strikes’ locations, especially to hunger strike locations in Vietnam, on that day. Their presents will help spreading its goals for Human Rights, and to help preventing further violations by the Vietnamese government toward the non-violent hunger strike members in Vietnam.
Time and location:
From 8:00am, July 25, 2015 to 8:00am, July 26, 2015
Vietnam, U.S., Australia, France, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Canada, South Korea, Lao, Norway, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark.
==========July 06, 2015=============
Vietnam Human Rights Network Seeks Nominations for Vietnam Human Rights 2015
The New York-based Vietnam Human Rights Network has called on other Vietnamese human rights organizations to introduce their nominees for the Vietnam Human Rights 2015 Prize on the occasion of the 67th International Human Rights Day.
The prize will be given to the winner at a ceremony in Little Saigon, California in December.
The annual prize, debuted in 2002 for those activists who devote for peaceful activism for human rights in Vietnam.
Leading Vietnamese human rights activists Venerable Thich Quang Do, Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly, Dr. Pham Hong Son, lawyer Le Chi Quang, Nguyen Vu Binh, Nguyen Khac Toan, Pham Que Duong, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Le Quang Liem, Catholic priest Phan Van Loi, Ven. Thich Tue Sy, Do Nam Hai, Nguyen Chinh Ket, Hoang Minh Chinh, lawyers Le Thi Cong Nhan and Nguyen Van Dai, Ven. Thich Thien Minh, blogger Nguyen Van Hai, and many others were awarded with the prize.
A number of the prize winners are currently in prison.
The Vietnam Human Rights Network will continue to call for international community to pay attention to Vietnam’s human rights issues, especially the government suppression against the prize winners.
Hanoi Leaders Admit Shortcomings in Massive Tree Felling, Still Defend Project
Leaders of Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have admitted some shortcomings in its massive tree felling in April-May, however, they still insist that the project is much needed.
Speaking at a meeting of the city’s People’s Council Tuesday [July 7], Vice Chairman Vu Hong Khanh of the People’s Committee said the city had not supply suitable information about the project to local residents, causing misunderstanding among citizens.
The city’s leadership strictly reviewed the shortcomings and determined responsibilities of state agencies and individuals in the case, Mr. Khanh said,
In coming months, the city will review and evaluate those trees which needed replacing gradually to ensure green coverage to the city, he noted.
In March-April, Hanoi city’s People’s Committee allowed the Department of Construction to carry out the massive tree-chopping project which aims to fell 6,700 aged trees in some main streets.
After cutting around 2,000 aged trees, mostly healthy and planted by French over one hundred years ago, the project was suspended due to strong protest from local activists who rallied in the city’s center for weeks.
Without reviewing the project, Hanoi’s authorities sent security forces to suppress demonstration and detained dozens of activists, mostly women, and harassed many others. At least two Hanoi-based activists Nguyen Chi Tuyen and Trinh Anh Tuan have been brutally attacked by thugs.
Hanoi has been criticized for replacing aged trees with new kinds of trees that are unsuitable for city’s environment. Recently, the city plans to grow new trees to replace those newly-planted ones which couldn’t grow in some streets, including Nguyen Chi Thanh, one of the best street in the capital city.
Responding to the public anger, Hanoi decided to discipline some low-ranking cadres of the Department of Construction./.
======================== 07/07/2015 ==========
U.S. Congressmen Urge President Obama to Pressure Vietnam on Human Rights
A group of nine members of the U.S. Congress has sent a joint letter to urge President Barack Obama to pressure Vietnam on human rights during his landmark meeting by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.
In their letter, the U.S. lawmakers including Loretta Sanchez, Alan Lowenthal and Christopher Smith said the communist-ruled Vietnam is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the UN Convention against Torture, and committed to the principles of universal human rights, however, Vietnam has repeatedly violated human rights.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined that the communist-ruled Vietnam continues to systemically arrest and detain local social and political activists, violating its clear obligations under international law, the U.S. legislators said in their letter.
The petitioned members of the Congress recommend President Obama to pay attention to the mistreatment of political and religious prisoners in Vietnam, especially those serving long prison sentences for their peaceful expression and political advocacy.
They have also listed ten prisoners of conscience, including Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly, blogger Ta Phong Tan, entrepreneur Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, labor rights activist Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung that President Obama should urge Mr. Trong to release immediately.
President Obama should raise the critical role of independent political and social organizations in a modern society and raise troubling religious freedom of violation, the legislators said, adding Mr. Trong should be encouraged to listen to the Vietnamese people and show respect for a civil society, religious groups and political freedom in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese American activists plan to gather in the front of the White House on July 7 to protest Mr. Trong and his entourage, according to social network.
The Vietnamese authoritarian one-party system is the root cause of the deplorable human rights situation in the Southeast Asian nation, they said.
Vietnam and the U.S. have big differences in human rights issues. The U.S. and international community said Vietnam systemically suppresses local political dissidents and human rights activists.
International human rights bodies said Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi always denies, saying it imprisons only law violators.
======================== July 08, 2015 ============
President Obama, Vietnam Communist Leader Meet for Closer Ties
U.S. President Barack Obama on July 7 met with General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong at the White House and the two leaders agreed to strengthen the two nations’ comprehensive partnership, Vietnam’s state media reported Wednesday.
Hosting the Vietnamese guests together with Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, Trade Representative Michael Froman, and Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius, President Obama said the U.S. attaches special importance to its relations with Vietnam and the latter’s role in the Asian-Pacific region, expressing his hope for stronger bilateral relations in the time ahead in the interest of the two countries and the region.
In turn, Mr. Trong, who became the first Vietnamese communist leader to visit the Oval Office, affirmed Vietnam’s consistent and long-term policy of treasuring the development of relations with the U.S.
Looking back the past 20 years, the two leaders rejoiced at the positive and robust development in the countries’ friendship and cooperation in the spirit of putting the past behind, overcoming differences, promoting similarities, and looking towards the future.
The two leaders voiced their optimism about prospects for the Vietnam-US relations in the coming time.
They exchanged opinions and agreed on major directions to foster bilateral ties and deepen and diversify the comprehensive partnership in the time to come.
They put emphasis on increasing high-level exchanges and contacts, expanding consultation mechanisms between the two countries on mutually concerned issues, promoting economic-trade-investment cooperation as a cornerstone and driving force for bilateral relations, continuing to bolster scientific, educational, medical and environmental collaboration, reinforcing partnership in defense and security, including the effective implementation of the Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations.
The two leaders also concurred on enhancing people-to-people exchange and cooperation in humanitarian activities and settling consequences left from war, while continuing to cooperate in an extensive and result-oriented manner at multilateral mechanisms and forums so as to actively contribute to global peace, security, stability and sustainable development, including cooperation on anti-terrorism, cyber security, and coping with epidemics and climate change.
They also hailed positive progress attained during negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and underlined the importance of this pact to regional development along with its major contributions to global growth and stability. They held that the TPP, with high criteria, needs to take into account the developmental level of negotiating members and respect their political and cultural differences, creating a new and critical momentum for fostering cooperation between the US and the Asian-Pacific region.
Regarding human rights issues, the two leaders had candid and open discussions. President Obama expressed hope that the two countries will continue dialogues and enhance cooperation in this field.
Mr. Trong said that Vietnam is willing to continue holding dialogues with the U.S. in the field in an open and constructive fashion.
Discussing the territorial and maritime disputes in the East Sea, the two sides agreed that the maintenance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea is the common interest and responsibility of the regional and international community.
They both expressed support of the principle of resolving disputes via peaceful means on the basis of respect for international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), implementing strictly and fully the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and working towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct on the East Sea (COC), without using or threatening to use force and making acts to further complicate the situation in the East Sea.
Obama and Trong pledged to closely coordinate in international organizations and at regional forums, including the ASEAN and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Mr. Trong invited President Obama to visit Vietnam soon and the U.S.’s leader accepted the invitation without specifying the schedule.
Following the candid talks, Trong and Obama met with the press. The two sides issued a Joint Declaration on Vision of the Vietnam-U.S. Relationship.
Prior to the meeting in the White House, a number of U.S. officials, including nine members of the Congress urged President Obama to pressure on Vietnam over human rights issues, requesting the communist government in Hanoi to take specific moves to improve its human rights records.
During the meeting, hundreds of Vietnamese American people gathered in the front of the White House to protest the communist delegation and demand Hanoi to release a number of prisoners of conscience and improve human rights records.
======================== July 09, 2015=============
President Obama Raises Vietnam Human Rights Issues, Pledging to Visit Hanoi
U.S. President Barack Obama raised Vietnam’s human rights issues at a meeting with Vietnamese communist leader Nguyen Phu Trong in the White House on July 7. He also promised to visit the communist nation without giving specific schedule.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed a number of issues, including TPP agreement negotiations and human rights issues as well as bilateral cooperation in community medicine, climate change response and security.
Vietnam’s Communist Party Chief Addresses Human Rights in Key U.S. Trip
After a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama that was dogged by protests from Vietnamese exiles and expatriates, the head of Vietnam’s Communist Party said Wednesday that human rights were a top concern of the authoritarian, one-party country.
“Protecting and promoting human rights is [sic] the main objective of our development,” Nguyen Phu Trong, head of the Vietnamese Communist Party and secretary of the Central Military Commission, said at the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“We want to ensure, promote and protect the rights of all people in Vietnam,” he said in response to a question following his speech. But he added that current detainees — which rights groups say includes hundreds of political prisoners — were being held because they had violated the law.
Earlier during his speech, Trong said that Vietnam attached “great importance” to human rights.
“We are making efforts every day to strive for a better and better society for our people,” he said, adding that the U.S. and Vietnam should continue their dialogue to reach common ground on human rights matters.
But Trong also cautioned: “This issue should not be allowed to become an obstacle to our growing bilateral relations.”
Trong’s speech came a day after he met with Obama to discuss several issues, including trade, security and human rights, as a few hundred people gathered outside the White house to demonstrate for freedom of religion and the release of Vietnamese political prisoners.
A joint statement released early Wednesday said both countries pledged their continued support for the promotion and protection of human rights and supported constructive dialogue on the issue.
“They encourage further cooperation to ensure that everyone, including members of vulnerable groups, regardless of their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and including persons with disabilities, enjoy fully their human rights,” said the statement, issued by the White House.
The statement noted that Vietnam is continuing to bring its laws into line with its 2013 constitution — which has a separate section on human rights — and international commitments, including the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The two countries also pledged to deepen their relations on trade, defense and security, sustainable development and regional issues.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the former enemies, as well as the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Crucial role of human rights
Viet Tan, a pro-democracy party banned in Vietnam with members inside the country and around the world, said in a statement to RFA that it would be a missed opportunity for the White House to pursue a “comprehensive partnership” with Vietnam without recognizing the crucial role of human rights to sustain such a partnership.
“The challenge for the Obama administration is figuring out how to deepen the current diplomatic relationship — with an unelected regime — while pursuing an agenda that’s in the long-term interests of both the American and Vietnamese people,” the statement said.
Jonathan London, a professor and international expert on Vietnam at the City University of Hong Kong, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that the U.S. must hold Vietnam to its word on human rights.
“Washington needs to see that Vietnam takes certain steps to prove that it will respect their citizens’ human rights as it said they would,” he said. “That will create more potential for their bilateral relationship.”
Vietnam is known for its harsh treatment and detentions of bloggers, democracy activists and religious believers worshipping outside of government control.
It has jailed dozens of bloggers and rights advocates in recent years over their online posts, with rights groups accusing the government of using vague national security provisions against them to silence dissent.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, approximately 150 to 200 activists and bloggers are serving prison time in Vietnam simply for exercising their basic rights.
Nine U.S. congressional representatives had sent a letter to Obama on Monday, urging him to hold Vietnam accountable for its human rights violations before pursuing viable economic relations.
The Obama administration is negotiating a 12-country trade pact, known as the Trans-Pacific partnership, which includes Vietnam.
They urged the president to broach the topics of the mistreatment of political and religious prisoners in Vietnam and call on Trong to immediately release prominent citizen journalists and human rights activists, including Ho Duc Hoa, Dang Xuan Dieu, Nguyen Dang Minh Man. Ta Phong Tan, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Ngo Hao, Tran Thi Thuy, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly.
“As the list of detained Vietnamese bloggers and prisoners of conscience gets longer and longer, it is more important than ever that the United States sends a clear message to the Hanoi authorities that respect for human rights is essential for a closer economic and security relationship,” their statement said.
Representative Loretta Sanchez Urges U.S. to Pressure Vietnam on Human Rights
Representative Loretta Sanchez on July 9 held a speech before the U.S. Congress, urging President Barack Obama and his government to pressure more Vietnam on human rights issues.
Her speech is very important at important moment as Vietnamese communist leader is conducting a three-day visit to Washington at the invitation of President Obama.
In her speech, she demanded for unconditional release of numerous Vietnamese prisoners of conscience. She named four Vietnamese political dissidents Nguyen Dang Minh Man, Dang Xuan Dieu, Ho Duc Hoa and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc who are serving long sentences due to excising the right of freedom of speech.
She said along with enhancing bilateral ties in economy, defense and other fields, the U.S. needs to demand Vietnam to ensure freedom of access to Internet and ease regulations on limiting freedom of expression as well as reform the country’s justice system.
She said Vietnam must remove controversial articles of the Criminal Code which are used to silent local government critics and human rights activists.
U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Meets Vietnamese Americans in Little Saigon in California
U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius is scheduled to meet with Vietnamese Americans in Little Saigon in California, where thousands of Vietnamese expats live, during Sunday [July 12].
The meeting, arranged by a group of U.S. Congressmen, including Alan Lowenthal, will focus on TPP agreement negotiations, human rights issues and democratic movement in Vietnam.
The meeting will also be chance for Ambassador Osius and U.S. legislators to listen to Vietnamese Americans’ opinions on Vietnam-U.S. relations.
Unlike his predecessors, Osius has not met Vietnamese community in the U.S. before taking office in Hanoi.
Little Saigon is considered as the capital city of Vietnamese expats. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese are living there after the Vietnam War.
Joint Report by Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) and International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) on Gender Discrimination in Vietnam
FIDH and VCHR welcome the opportunity of Vietnam’s submission of its combined seventh and eighth periodic reports to CEDAW to express its concerns on continuing discrimination against women in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Vietnam has been a state party to ICEDAW since 1982. During this time, it has undertaken extensive legal commitments, both internationally and nationally, to promote gender equity and combat discrimination. Despite these commitments, however, as Vietnam’s report notes, “the concept of “discrimination against women” has not been inclusively applied in specific areas of social life”, and the adoption and enforcement of gender laws have failed “to ensure the implementation of this concept in reality.”
In fact, grave discrimination against women remains a reality in Vietnam. Domestic violence, trafficking of women and girls, prostitution, the growing problem of HIV/AIDS among women, violations of sexual and reproductive rights are serious problems. Yet these abuses frequently go unacknowledged or unpunished by the authorities, thus discouraging women from denouncing them, and sending the message that such forms of discrimination are socially acceptable.
Trafficking and sex rings in Vietnam are often run with the connivance of Communist Party officials, Security Police and the military, which are never brought to justice. Prostitutes and HIV/AIDS carriers are classified as perpetrators of “social evils” and stigmatized by the regime. Official power abuse and State confiscation of land has seriously penalized women, especially in the rural areas. In addition, accelerated economic liberalization under the policy of “đổi mới”, or renovation launched in 1986, has negatively impacted the status of Vietnamese women, exposing them to increased violence, sweat-shop working conditions, lack of access to health and education and other forms of discrimination.
Vietnam states that challenges in implementing CEDAW are “due to the fact that [Vietnam] is underdeveloped with limited resources” (Paragraph 269). But most of all, it is the political structure of the one-Party State, with its lack of transparency and political freedoms, and the pervasive control of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) that impede the realization of women’s rights. There are no independent women’s civil society movements, no free trade unions, no free press, no independent judiciary nor any other mechanisms outside the CPV framework through which women may express their grievances and seek remedy. Vietnamese women’s only representative is the Vietnam Women’s Union, a para-governmental “mass organisation” whose mandate is to enforce Communist Party policies at a local level. Under Vietnam’s broadly-defined “national security” laws, acts perceived to “infringe upon the interests of the State, organizations and citizens” carry heavy prison sentences. Women who are victims of abuses are therefore afraid to take action to prosecute State organs, or speak out publicly to defend their rights.
As a result, very few women file prosecutions in Vietnam, despite existing mechanisms. In this context, the VCHR deeply regrets that Vietnam has not signed or ratified the CEDAW Optional Protocol, thereby depriving Vietnamese women of alternative mechanisms of complaint. Indeed, Vietnam has not signed any Optional Protocol on the six core UN treaties to which it is a state party, and rejected all recommendations to do so at its Universal Periodic Review in 2014. Despite obligations as a state party to CEDAW, Vietnam has not widely disseminated the Convention or Committee’s recommendations, nor made translations available in ethnic minority languages where women are particularly vulnerable. The CEDAW has never been invoked before the Courts, although Vietnam has adopted legislation on the harmonization of laws. We are further concerned that the newly amended 2013 Constitution is less affirmative in protecting women’s’ rights. Whereas the former Constitution “strictly prohibit[s] all acts of discrimination against women” (Article 63), the new text simply states that “sex discrimination is strictly prohibited in Vietnam” (Article 26).
Former Prisoners of Conscience Welcome Newly-released Human Rights Lawyer Le Quoc Quan
Many former prisoners of conscience in Nghe An province on July 9 came to meet human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who completed a 30-month imprisonment for fabricated tax evasion.
Among them are Chu Manh Son, Tran Huu Duc, Dau Van Duong, Ho Van Oanh, Nguyen Van Duyet, and Nguyen Xuan Anh. They were also imprisoned for peaceful criticism against the government.
Many Nghe An-based Prisoners of Conscience to Complete Sentences Soon
Many prisoners of conscience in a 17-member group of Catholic followers in the central province of Nghe An will complete their sentences in August.
They are Nguyen Minh Nhat, Le Van Son (Paulus Le Son), and Thai Van Dung. All of them were arrested in 2011 and charged under Article 79 of the Criminal Code.
Mr. Nguyen Dinh Cuong, another member of the group, will be released in December.
The group was accused of conducting attempt to overthrow the government as they disseminated leaflets to boyttcot the general elections in 2011.
Three members of the group, Ho Duc Hoa, Dang Xuan Dieu and Nguyen Dang Minh Man are sentenced to between 8 and 13 years in jail.
One More Detainee Dies in Vietnam Police Station, Fifth Death So Far This Year
Police in Vietnam’s southern province of Vinh Long are investigating the death of detainee Tran Ngoc Be Tu in the Luc Si Thanh communal police station, said Colonel Pham Van Ngan, head of the provincial Police Investigation Agency.
Mr. Tu was held during the night of July 7 and brought to the communal police station for interrogation for his role in a local property stealing case, Colonel Ngan said.
The detainee was found dead in the morning of the following day, in the hanged position, Ngan said without giving more details.
Mr. Tu is the fifth detainee died in police stations in Vietnam so far this year. A number of victims had been hospitalized in critical health conditions after being tortured by police officers.
Torture is a systemic problem in the communist-ruled Vietnam, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch while the Ministry of Public Security reported 226 deaths of detainees in police stations between October 2011 and September 2014.
The police said most of the deaths were caused by illness and suicides, however, families of many victims said they died from police torture.
Many deaths were recorded in communal police stations, triggering concerns among public. Many members of the Vietnamese legislative body National Assembly have voiced about the death of detainees, urging the Ministry of Public Security to take measures to halt the problem.
Advocating better respect of human rights for the arrested and detainees, many legislators, including Vice Chairwoman Le Thi Nga of the parliament’s Legal Committee, proposed granting the right to remain silent and the right to have lawyer during interrogation as well as video and audio recording during police’s questioning to prevent torture.
Many lawmakers suggested transferring the prisons and detention facilities, currently managed by the Ministry of Public Security to the Ministry of Justice.
Numerous legislators expressed their concerns over the Ministry of Public Security’s proposals to give more power to police at the communal level in criminal case investigation given the limited professional training the communal policemen have.
Currently, few communal policemen have passed professional training courses. Many of them have just graduated primary school./.
======================== July 10, 2015=============
Vietnamese Communist Leader Addresses Human Rights at CSIS
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam delivered a speech before U.S. scholars, diplomats and government officials at the Center for Strategy and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on July 8, one day after meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House.
In his speech, Mr. Trong called for enhancing Vietnam-U.S relations and continuing negotiations for narrowing their differences in human rights.
He said the two countries should not let human rights differences to affect the incresing bilateral ties.
He said Vietnamese have enjoyed the best democratic environment while the Vietnamese constitution has a chapter for human rights.
Vietnam’s government has arrested and imprisoned only those who violate the country’s laws, he noted.
Phil Robertson, Asia’s deputy director of Human Rights Watch said his organization has not happy with the U.S.’s response to Vietnam’s human rights situation. The HRW will continue to urge the U.S. Congress to have more effective measures to suppress Vietnam’s government on the issue.
Prior to Trong’s visit to the White House, a group of nine members of the Congress sent a joint letter to urge President Obama to pressure Vietnam to demand unconditional release of Vietnamese prisoners of conscience.
Otherwise, the message will be: “We want you to reform, but we’ll reward you even if you don’t.”
In order to have better economic and security ties with the U.S., Vietnam should improve its human rights record, the U.S. legislators said.
Senator McCain Urges U.S. to Continue Supports for Vietnam Civil Society
U.S.’s Senator John McCain has urged the government of President Barack Obama to continue to support civil society in Vietnam, including advocates for religious freedom, press freedom and labor rights.
In his press release prior to a meeting with visiting General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam in Washington D.C. scheduled on July 8, Senator McCain, who is former imprisoned pilot by Hanoi during the Vietnam War, said by giving assistance for Vietnamese civil society will promote human rights in the Southeast Asian nation.
The senator noted that the Vietnamese communist government has recently taken modest but encouraging steps to improve the country’s human rights record, and the U.S. must continue to support civil society in Vietnam, including advocates for religious continue our support for all Vietnamese citizens who seek to use peaceful means to build a strong and prosperous country that respects human rights and the rule of law.
Highlighting the two countries’ shared concerns over China’s reclamation and miliarization of land features in the East Sea and their commitment to the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region, Senator McCain informed that the U.S.’s Congress is working to authorize $425 million for the Department of Defense to help train and equip the armed forces of Southeast Asian countries to build their maritime capacity in a bid to support Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asian that are pledged to to the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes.
Senator McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, called on the U.S. to further ease the prohibition on the sale of lethal military equipment to Vietnam at this time, including all platforms that facilitate the Vietnamese armed forces’ ability to operate more effectively on, above, and within its territorial waters.
However, in order to get lethal weapon ban removed, the communist Vietnam must take significant and sustained steps to protect human rights, including releases of prisoners of conscience and legal reforms, the senator said, adding American politicians need to work together to achieve it as as soon as possible for the benefit of both of our nations.
According to international human rights groups, Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 political dissidents and human rights. Hanoi always denies, saying it imprisons only law violators.
Vietnam is an important emerging partner with which the U.S.shares strategic and economic interests, including strengthening an open regional trading order, maintaining a favorable balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region, and upholding long-standing principles of world order, such as freedom of the seas and peaceful resolution of international disputes, Senator McCain said in his press release on July 7./.
Vietnamese Police Say Giving Interviews to VOA, RFI, RFA Like Talks to Enemy
Police officers in Ho Chi Minh City have said that giving interviews to foreign news agencies such as VOA, RFI and RFA is equal to cooperate with enemy.
Security officers made this statement while interrogated Dr. Pham Chi Dung, a president of unsanctioned Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam on July 9, who is often interviewed by foreign media.
Police officers also accused Dr. Dung of writing a number of articles which are anti-state propaganda and aim to overthrow the government.
Recently, Dr. Dung has been a subject of harassment by police in HCM City. He has been detained shortly by local security force for interrogation for his writings.
=========== Jule 11, 2015============
Vietnamese Farmer Smashed by Bulldozer in Land Dispute in Hai Duong Province
One female farmer has been run over by a bulldozer in a land grabbing case in Vietnam’s northern province of Hai Duong, according to state-run media.
Ms. Le Thi Cham, 54, in Hoang Xa village, Cam Dien commune, Cam Giang district and many other farmers in the village have disagreed to the cheap compensation prices for their land taken by local authorities for building the Cam Dien Industrial Zone. On July 10, Tram and farmers tried to block a bulldozer coming into their land for land clearing operation, however, the driver continued to move forward, knocking down Ms. Cham under its track.
It took long time for farmers to take Ms. Cham out of the bulldozer track. She was brought to Hai Duong city-based Central Hospital for emergent treatment with numerous severe injuries in all her head and aims.
Some sources have said Ms. Cham died while others informed that she is under critical conditions in the Hanoi-based Viet Duc Hospital. Policemen and plainclothes have been blocking her family as well as the two hospital to prevent independent individuals from gathering information on Ms. Cham’s situation.
Members of Ms. Cham’s family said that many farmers in the village stayed around the bulldozer to protest the land clearing operations of the Cam Dien IZ project. However, the driver continued to move and the incident happened.
They noted that a number of thugs also came around and insulted and threatened the protesting farmers.
The Cam Dien IZ is bought by the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), a joint venture between Vietnam’s Becamex IDC and a group of Singaporean investors presented by Sembcorp Group.
The video clip filming the incident by witnesses has been circulated on social network, causing widespread anger.
However, Chairman Vu Hong Khiem of Cam Giang district’s People’s Committee rejected the video clip, saying it was fabricated. He also said there was a small incident in the Cam Dien IZ, however, the local authorities successfully convinced farmers to return home without causing any incident.
By late 2008, over 90% of households whose land is taken for the project received compensation. As many as 56 households disagree with the compensation prices and demand for higher prices.
So far, two foreign companies have committed to invest in Cam Dien VSIP, according to the Hai Duong provincial Industrial Zone Management Board.
Land grabbing is a problematic and systematic issue in Vietnam where all land belongs to the state and residents have only right to use it.
Under the country’s law, the government and authorities in localities have rights to take land from residents for defense and security or social-economic development projects. Many Vietnamese across the country have been forced to give their land at cheap prices for urban and industrial projects.
If residents object to land revoke, they will face harassment of the local authorities which often use armed police and army to support land clearing operations.
Thousands of Vietnamese have become landless nationwide. They, often called land petitioners, have gathered in fronts of governmental buildings in the capital city of Hanoi and other major cities to protest land seizure and demand for reasonable compensation.
Many of them have been brutally attacked by police forces and hired thugs. Some have been arrested and charged for causing public disorders with sentences up to seven years in prison.
There have been a number of deaths related to land disputes in Vietnam. Earlier this year, one woman was killed in police station in Ba Dinh district in the capital city in a land seizure case while a resident in Danang city was reported to self immolate several years ago after the local authorities took his land without paying adequately./.
================= July 12, 2015============
Vietnam Security Forces Block Some Activists from Going Abroad
Vietnam’s security forces in the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport and Ho Chi Minh City-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport on Sunday barred a number of activists from taking international flights to go abroad.
Among blocked activists are independent journalist Vu Quoc Ngu, who has numerous articles about human rights violations in Vietnam (you can see his writings here http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/?s=%22vu+quoc+ngu%22 ), and Huynh Thuc Vy, coordinator of the unsanctioned Vietnam Women for Human Rights.
Vietnam Women for Human Rights Reports Gov’t Suppression against Female Activists
The unsanctioned Vietnam women for Human Rights in collaboration with the Boat People SOS (BPSOS) has submitted a report on Vietnam’s government suppression against local female activists to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The reports addressed the Vietnamese implementation of the CEDAW. The Vietnamese Women for Human Rights states that arrests and detentions, torture and harassments against female dissidents and human rights activists are one form of gender discrimination.
The report also addressed specific cases and gave a list of imprisoned female activists.
Along with submitting the report, the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights also sent a representative to give oral speech on the issue at a meeting with the CEDAW (you can see the speech here: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/07/10/independent-cso-vietnamese-women-for-human-rights-vnwhr-delivers-oral-statement-to-the-cedaw-committee/.)