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Before the United Nations in Geneva: Demonstration for Human Rights and Religious Freedom during the Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam

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GENEVA, 30 April 2009 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights and Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam are organizing a one-day demonstration at the Place des Nations, outside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva on 8th May 2009 from 8.00 am onwards to call for the respect of human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam. The demonstration will take place as Vietnam’s human rights record comes up for examination by the U.N. Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Religious leaders, human rights defenders and representatives of Vietnamese organisations from the United States, Australia, France, Germany, Holland and Scandinavia will gather in the Place des Nations to alert international attention to the grave human rights abuses in Vietnam. Buddhist monks from the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) will conduct interfaith prayers for religious freedom together with dignitaries from the Catholic, Protestant, Hoa Hao Buddhist, Cao Dai and other religious communities, and Vietnamese and international personalities will address the gathering.

“The demonstration will be the voice of civil society”, said Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, an affiliate of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). “We will raise issues that the Vietnamese government will not mention in their report, and speak out on behalf of those who have no voice in Vietnam, and who suffer repression under Vietnam’s one-Party communist state”.

This is the first time Vietnam will come before the Universal Periodic Review, a mechanism which subjects all U.N. member states to a scrutiny of their human rights record every 4 years. During the review, member states can question Vietnam and make recommendations for improvements on human rights. NGOs make written submissions that are compiled into a “stakeholders report” and used to question Vietnam during the session. The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights and the FIDH made a joint submission detailing a wide range of human rights abuses, including restrictions of religious freedom, censorship of the media and Internet, arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, democracy activists, journalists and other peaceful dissidents. The report is available on the UN website, or Quê Me’s website here.

The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights and Quê Me welcomes the participation of all those concerned with human rights in Vietnam at this demonstration.

Press Contact: Penelope Faulkner: + 33.6.11.89.86.81 (mobile)

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