Vietnam should be ‘consistent with Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ NGOs say

Their petition came as Vietnam and US hold annual human rights dialogue in Hanoi.

RFA | 2022.11.03

On the eve of the 26th annual Vietnam-U.S. Human Rights Dialogue, four non-governmental organizations called on the Vietnamese government to make efforts to earn its place on the UN Human Rights Council to which it was recently elected.

The petition was signed by the Vietnam Human Rights Network, Defend the Defenders, the Vietnam Democracy Federation and Vietnam Democracy Radio. It was sent to Erin Barclay, senior bureau official for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S Department of State, who is taking part in the two-day talks in Hanoi which started on Wednesday.

The letter called on Vietnam to: “immediately release political prisoners, dissidents, leaders of civil society organizations on environmental protection; fully guarantee the right to freedom of expression; truthfully enforce the right to freedom of association, especially the rights of independent trade unions; restitute appropriated places of worship, charity facilities, and schools to religious groups; and respect the traditions and culture of ethnic minorities.”

The four NGOs said meeting those goals was consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements which Vietnam has signed. Vietnam was elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for a second time on Oct. 11 despite objections from many international rights organizations.

“We see that after the past 25 dialogues Vietnam has not made any significant progress,” Nguyen Ba Tung, executive director of the California-based Vietnam Human Rights Network, told RFA Vietnamese.

“In recent months, arrests have reached a peak. The Vietnamese state abuses the Criminal Code to silence dissidents who speak out about human rights violations and social injustice.

“The U.S. Delegation taking part in the Vietnam-U.S. Human Rights Dialogue should demand that Hanoi release those unjustly convicted.”

Since the beginning of the year, at least 20 people have been arrested and 27 people have been sentenced to prison with lengthy sentences, mostly charged with "conducting anti-state propaganda” and "abusing democratic freedoms," Tung said.

The latest case is that of freelance journalist Le Manh Ha, who used social media to defend land rights petitioners and was sentenced to eight years in prison and three years of probation.

After sentencing activists to long prison terms authorities transfer them to prisons far from their families, in harsh climates.

Last month, human rights activist Pham Doan Trang, who has won many international awards for her writings and actions, was sent to An Phuoc Prison camp, 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from where her elderly mother and relatives live.

Trang was arrested in October 2020, just hours after the 24th Vietnam-US Human Rights Dialogue ended.

One month before this year’s dialogue, many Protestant groups in the Central Highlands reported that they were harassed by local authorities and banned from practicing their religion.

In recent days, some activists and relatives of prisoners of conscience across Vietnam said they were being guarded by plainclothes police.


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