Joint statement of civil society organizations in vietnam, May 4, 2014
[themify_box style=”blue info rounded” ]The FVPOC again requests Vietnam and its Security agencies to respect the right of freedom of association of the people and the human rights provisions on which Vietnam has become a signatory. The FVPOC proposes Vietnam Congress to urgently enact the right of association – an essential document that has been delayed for more than two decades since the 1992 Constitution. If this document passed, the FVPOC will proceed to operate under its new rules. And we totally reject the request to terminate our operations.[/themify_box]
GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM PLEASE RESPECT THE FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
After the FVPOC (Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience) press release about the two interrogation sessions with the HCM City security authorities on April 24, 2014, the authorities continue to interrogate Pham Ba Hai about the Association (FVPOC) on the afternoon of April 29, 2014.
The government side included a lieutenant colonel, a captain and a security personnel of Hoc Mon district. All three were present for the first interrogation.
To further clarify the operation of the Association and information relating to the second interrogation, the FVPOC Association clarifies the standpoints from the 05 government conclusions as follows:
Conclusion one: In Vietnam there are no “prisoners of conscience” only those who violate the laws of the state of Vietnam and incurred criminal penalties. The prisoner amnesty program is the policy of clemency and humanity on the part of the Party and the state.
The preamble in the declaration on the establishment of FVPOC states: “Freedom of conscience is one of the fundamental human rights, in addition to freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of speech… To live according to the dictate of one’s conscience is to live with high moral, with love, with justice and truth. To act conscientiously will bring happiness to the greater society’s population, especially for those who are victims of all types of infringements on their human rights.” Once the law and the application of that law is to just really aim at repressing human conscience, then conscience has the right to speak. Those who speak in such instances are prisoners of conscience.
This year’s human rights report entitled “The voices being silenced: prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.” Amnesty International has gathered a statistically incomplete list of 75 prisoners of conscience who are currently held in Vietnam.
The FVPOC Association including those who have been in prison for peacefully speaking out for basic human rights, calling on the government Vietnam to remove Articles 79, 88, 258 and other vague laws used to silence political dissidents. Removal of these laws is demonstrating the true respect for human rights.
Conclusion two: When observing signs of violation of the law, the government has the right to contact the family whose member is suspected of violating the law to mobilize the family to help redirect the person before his/her being administratively punished.
To accuse those who peacefully advocate for human rights as violating the law is an intentional act of political repression in order to protect the dictatorship, the abuse of power, and corruption.
Article 7 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders emphasizes: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance”.
The process of mobilizing more people to be aware and the government to go along is a long and arduous task to get the change in the direction of respect for human rights. The FVPOC Association confirms such actions cannot be seen as violations of the law.
In the past, the incidents of the government contacting relatives of the dissidents have mostly turned into harassment, with threats and coercion of the relatives, causing indirect pressure on the activities of the human rights defenders. A case in point: Mrs. Dang Thi Kim Lieng – mother of blogger Ta Phong Tan – had self-immolated on July 30, 2012.
Conclusion three: Security personnel issued a request (a veiled threat) not to report on the contents of the security interrogations.
Article 8 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders says:
1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to have effective access, on a nondiscriminatory basis, to participation in the government of his or her country and in the conduct of public affairs.
2. This includes, inter alia, the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organizations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The campaigns to change the law acknowledge the fundamental civil rights as being public, open and transparent, the FVPOC upholds the transparency in its activities, mobilizing the masses to learn about the human rights operations. Accordingly, our publicizing the interrogation sessions with the government relating to our human rights activities in is our rights, necessary and proper.
Moreover, the invitation paper of the security agencies is not legal or mandatory in criminal law, that the person being requested (invited) is not required to go nor does s/he have to keep the content of the interrogation sessions secret according to the rules of confidentiality of the security branch. On the contrary, a person being invited (to interrogation session) has the right as a citizen to inform.
Conclusion four: In the recent press release, the FVPOC mentions the name of a security officer without consulting him. Request the removal of the press release.
The government issued the invitation for a member of the FVPOC Executive Board to come for interrogation relating to his/her work for the Association. Members are obliged to answer questions relating to the Association in his/her delegated responsibility. Therefore, all the content will be reported to the executive committee, sometimes human rights advocate has the right to know if it helps them figure out a solution with respect to human rights.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Article 9, paragraph 1, states clearly: “In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights”.
However, considering the specific naming of a person is not the main issue in the campaign, the FVPOC decides to withdraw the identity of an officer mentioned in the press release of April 26. The updated press release is attached below.
And we still uphold the people’s right to know by continuing to circulate the press release.
Conclusion five: Request the FVPOC to terminate operations because it does not have permit from the state.
The FVPOC is established based on the undeniable basis:
– The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Vietnam signed in 1982, with Article 21 says: “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
– Vietnam 2013 Constitution of the civil rights of assembly, of association.
– The provisions of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, which Vietnam joined as an official member on December 11, 2013 for the term 2014-2016.
The FVPOC again requests Vietnam and its Security agencies to respect the right of freedom of association of the people and the human rights provisions on which Vietnam has become a signatory.
The FVPOC proposes Vietnam Congress to urgently enact the right of association – an essential document that has been delayed for more than two decades since the 1992 Constitution. If this document passed, the FVPOC will proceed to operate under its new rules.
And we totally reject the request to terminate our operations.
In case the security agencies continue to pressure or harass the members of the FVPOC, we have the right to refuse the police’s invitation subpoena, and concurrently consider our procedures for the redress of grievances and denunciations to the competent authority in the country and international concerns.
May 4, 2014
The following Civil Society Organizations have collectively signed to demand the freedom of association and other fundamental rights mentioned in this press release:
- Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Catholic Priest Phan Van Loi.
- Vietnmese Women for Human Rights: Mrs. Duong Thi Tan, Ms. Huynh Thuc Vy.
- Brotherhood for Democracy: Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai.
- Civil Society Forum: Nguyen Quang A, PhD.
- Vietnam Redemptorists’ News: Catholic Priest Le Ngoc Thanh.
- Non-violent Movement for Democracy: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que.
- Bauxite Vietnam: Prof. Nguyen Hue Chi.
- Bloc 8406: Engineer Do Nam Hai.
- Peasants Petitioners Association: Mr. Nguyen Xuan Ngu.
- Bau Bi Association: Mr. Nguyen Le Hung.
- Friendship Association of Former Political and Religious Prisoners:Nguyen Bac Truyen, LLB.
- Writers’ Independent Union: Writer Nguyen Ngoc.
- Bach Dang Giang Foundation: Pham Ba Hai, MBE.
***Translation by [rollinglinks]Nguyen Khoa Thai Anh[/rollinglinks]
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