Summary of Prof. Nguyen Thanh Trang’s Welcoming Speech at
The Vietnam Human Rights Award 2008 Ceremony
Over the last 60 years, human rights are increasingly and widely promoted and respected worldwide, especially in truly democratic countries. The new millennium also brought about the globalization of politics, economics, commerce, hence all progressive countries have been promoting respect of human rights, democracy, and collaboration in peace in order to join hands in developing common security and prosperity.
Unfortunately for the Vietnamese people, Hanoi Communist government continues to pursue a dictatorship which cruelly tramples upon human rights. Although the Vietnamese constitution recognizes the basic rights of the Vietnamese people, including freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, freedom to vote or to participate in elections, in reality, the whole thing is a farce. According to Cardinal Pham Minh Man in Saigon, Vietnamese citizens have “the right to beg for favors” from the authorities, but whether it is granted is another matter.
Many international organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and the European Union Assembly have, over the last 30 years, often accused the Hanoi government of violating the above rights in a systematic and blatant way.
After Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), these violations became more widespread than ever before. Examples of these include the persecution of religious organizations, especially the United Buddhist Church of Vietnam; the imprisonment of journalists and internet users; the harassment of those who appealed for remedial actions to the unfair treatment that they received from government officials when they asked for a return of their illegally confiscated lands; and the persecution of members of the Vietnamese Alliance Church in the highlands of Central Vietnam. Most recently, these violations took the form of persecution of the members of the Thai Ha Catholic congregation who protested against the confiscation of the Catholic Church’s land, and who organized prayer sessions for the return of the land and for justice.
In view of the above developments, we are asking the in-coming Secretary of State, the Honorable Hillary Clinton, to put Vietnam back on the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC). In addition, we are also asking the U.S. Senate to pass the Vietnam Human Rights Bill submitted by Senator Barbara Boxer on October 1, 2008. Vietnam Human Rights Networks believes that these measures will send a clear message to the government of Hanoi: the United States is very concerned about violations of human rights in Vietnam. Respect for human rights is an ideal that the United States and its people have kept over the course of its history.
In celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on this day, December 14, 2008, we would like to recognize and present the 2008 Vietnam Human Rights Award to Venerable Thich Thien Minh, journalist Nguyen Van Hai whose pen name is Dieu Cay; and the biweekly magazine Freedom of Speech (Tự Do Ngôn Luận).
Vietnam Human Rights Award was established by the Vietnam Human Rights Networks in 2002 to recognize the non-violent and courageous struggle for human rights and democracy for Vietnam by many political dissidents who were willing to take many risks in doing that, including the risks to their own lives. In addition, the award is intended to show the solidarity, support, and determination of Vietnamese everywhere in the world in the fight for the basic human rights for every citizen in Vietnam.
Over the last 7 years, Vietnam Human Rights Networks has presented this award to the pioneer human rights advocates in Vietnam, including the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Reverend Nguyen Van Ly, Dr. Pham Hong Son, former Colonel Pham Que Duong, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Reverend Phan Van Loi, Engineer Do Nam Hai, Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, Lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan, etc.
On behalf of the Vietnam Human Rights Network, I warmly welcome you and thank you for joining us in our celebration of the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 2008 Vietnam Human Rights Award Ceremony. Your presence not only speaks volume of your concerns about the current human rights violations in Vietnam, but also lends valuable encouragement to our struggle and protection of human rights for our people in Vietnam.
Nguyen Thanh Trang
President of Vietnam Human Rights Network
Vietnam Human Rights Network