The European Parliament will hold a Hearing on Monday 12th September in Brussels to examine the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The hearing, organized by the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights commemorates the 30th anniversary of the End of the Vietnam War and the beginning of a particularly brutal period of repression in these Southeast Asian countries, with the genocide of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the gulags of Laos and Vietnam, or in their flight for freedom on the South China seas.
European Parliament spokeswoman Jory Van den Broeke said in an email last week that the EP’s hearing was the first of its kind for the region and that the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam would be represented by their ambassadors.
The hearing will be introduced by the EP Subcommittee’s Chair, Ms Helene Flautre (French, EP Green Party) and concluded by Mr. Marc Tarabella, Vice-Chairman of the EP Delegation for relations with South East Asia. Speakers are Mr. Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights and President of Forum Asia Democracy (an alliance of Asian democrats from Burma, China, Laos, Tibet, Vietnam, Uyghuristan and Members of the EP..); Mr. Pham Van Tuong (aka Thich Tri Luc), former Buddhist monk and political prisoner, kidnapped in Cambodia and forcibly repatriated to Vietnam, now a political refugee in Sweden; the Hon. Sam Rainsy MP, head of the Cambodian opposition party, currently in exile; Dr. Kek Galabru, President of the Cambodian League for the Protection and Defence of Human Rights (Phnom Penh); Ms Vanida Thepsouvanh, President of the Lao Movement for Human Rights, and Ms Ruhi Hamid, BBC journalist, author of a recent documentary on the situation of the Hmong tribes-people in Laos.
The EP Human Rights Subcommittee outlined the objectives of the Hearing as follows :
“30 years after the end of the war in Vietnam with its terrible consequences also in Laos and Cambodia, the human rights situation in these three countries remains a matter of profound concern to the European Parliament.
“This hearing on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam is designed to take a closer look at human rights questions in these countries of Southeast Asia. All of these countries have in the past undergone difficult periods of internal strife and fundamental, brutal bloodshed. Their colonial past has been a heavy burden in the development of modern, democratic societies but also their geopolitical position at the hinge of the confrontation of East and West has been a major course for its lack of development.
“As could be expected, all three countries exhibit problems in the guarantee of basic human rights standards. The whole panoply of human rights needs to be discussed including the right to life, the right to freedom from torture, the right to free expression and freedom of opinion, as well as the right to cultural and religious self-determination.
“For this purpose the subcommittee has invited prominent human rights defenders from these countries in order to hear their experience and their recommendations for the EU human rights policy vis-à-vis this region of the world.”
For further information, including the document on Human Rights in Cambodia-Laos and Vietnam released by Forum Democracy Asia for this Hearing (Chapter on Vietnam prepared by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights), see EP website, link :