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At the 13th Session of the UN Human Rights Council: Vietnam Committee denounces double language, stifling of free expression and unfair trials in Vietnam

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GENEVA, 16 March 2010 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – Speaking on behalf of the France-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights and Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme (Working Together for Human Rights), Mr. Vo Tran Nhat told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today that the double language and systematic human rights violations of the Vietnamese government had created a pervasive “climate of fear” in Vietnam.

Whilst Vietnam claims to uphold fundamental rights and cooperate with UN mechanisms, it continues to stifle all free expression, maintains an arsenal of repressive legislation, and systematically rejects UN recommendations to advance human rights. It has extended no invitations to essential human rights monitors such as the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Religious Freedom, Torture, Human Rights Defenders and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to make in situ visits to Vietnam.

Mr. Vo Tran called on the UN Human Rights Council to pay urgent attention to the human rights situation in Vietnam (see full text of the statement below).

Oral Statement
by Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme (Working Together for Human Rights)
and Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

Working Together for Human Rights and its partner, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights are deeply concerned by the deceptive statements made by Vietnam in this forum concerning human rights, and especially by the brutal repression of all forms of free expression which has created a veritable climate of fear in Vietnam.

At its examination under the Universal Periodic Review, in disregard of its citizens’ fundamental rights, Vietnam rejected all concrete recommendations towards genuine human rights progress.

Indeed, Vietnam continues to maintain in force extensive legislation which violates the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, the right to demonstrate, freedom of association, religion or belief under vaguely-defined provisions on “national security” and public order. Dissidents are detained under house arrest without trial or placed in psychiatric institutions for up to two years under Ordinance 44 on “administrative detention”. Human Rights defenders are imprisoned for “abusing democratic freedoms to encroach on the interests of the State” or “anti-Socialist propaganda”. Too-curious journalists are fired, subjected to heavy fines or imprisoned.

Vietnam claims to “cooperate” with UN mechanisms, yet it refuses to invite the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, freedom of religion, torture or the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention despite repeated requests by the international community.

Moreover, barely two weeks after its Universal Periodic Review, Vietnam cynically condemned nine pro-democracy activists at unfair trials (Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Nguyen Van Tuc, Nguyen Manh Son, Nguyen Van Tinh, Ngo Quynh, Nguyen Kim Nhan, Vu Van Hung, Tran Duc Thach et Phan Van Troi). They had all been pronounced victims of arbitrary detention by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Opinion 1/2009, May 2009).

On 28 December 2009 and 20 January 2010, Vietnam condemned another five dissidents to prison sentences of 5 to 16 years on the pretext of “activities aimed at overthrowing the government” on account of their advocacy of democracy and human rights (Tran Huynh Duy Thuc (16 years), Nguyen Tien Trung (7 years), Tran Anh Kim (5 ½ years), Le Cong Dinh (5 years) and Le Thang Long (5 years).

Furthermore, Working Together for Human Rights and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights remind the Council that Thich Quang Do, prominent dissident and Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam is still under house arrest at his pagoda in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) without any charge or justification, after more than 28 years in detention.

By this double language, the Vietnamese government is defying the international community. Worse still, it is constantly and deliberately dashing all hopes of seeing the respect of human rights and democratic freedoms in this country. The Council should pay urgent attention to the situation in Vietnam, and take steps to put an end to a situation in which the Vietnamese citizens are the primary victims”.

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