Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, April 07, 2006

Vietnam News Update

Vietnam Allegedly Denies Visa to Congresswoman Sanchez

April 7, 2006

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional Vietnam Caucus, is outspoken on human rights issues in Vietnam. Her criticism of the country, which is under consideration for membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) but has been told by the international community that it must clean up its human rights record to be accepted, may be tied to her inability to get a visa to visit Vietnam.

Ms. Sanchez has been reportedly been denied a visa for the fourth time by the Vietnamese government, according to an article on CNSNews.com.

House Speaker Hastert is visiting Vietnam with a Congressional delegation this month.

To read the whole story, click here.

3.9 Million Households below Poverty Line under New Standard

April 7, 2006

According to VietNamNet, 3.9 million households within Vietnam will fall “below the poverty line under new international standards. The statistic of nearly 4 million, or 22 percent, of poor households was released by the Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, Nguyen Thi Hang.

VietNamNet reported:

“The mountainous north-western region of the country currently has the most poor families at 42%, followed by the Central Highlands, with 28%. The south-eastern region has the lowest rate, at 9%.”

“Hang said that Vietnam reduced the percentage of number of poor families from 30% in 1992 to 8.2% in 2004, and to less than 7% in 2005 (under the old standards), adding that provinces and cities still need more programmes to help the poor.”

Click here for the report.

Vietnam at 83 Million and Growing Despite Limits

April 6, 2006

Vietnam’s population is growing faster than predicted; in 2005 the country’s population hit 83.13 million, outpacing by 700,000 the 82.49 million people predicted by the year 2010.

There are special concerns for the Central Highlands, since the indigenous people there have found themselves pushed onto ever smaller pieces of land due to an influx of ethnic Vietnamese, leading to poverty, malnutrition and other health problems among the tribal groups.

“The data was released yesterday in Hanoi at a conference reviewing population controls for 2001-05,” VietNamNet reported.

“According to the Committee for Population, Family and Children, births will grow by 1.13mil annually at the current rate and population growth increased for the past five years consistently.”

“Of eight regions in the country, three have a 2.1-child limit per family, including the Red River Delta, the southeastern region and the Mekong Delta. In the Central Highlands, the recommended rate is three children.”

“At the conference, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai requested local governments promote the importance of population planning.”

To read the article, click here.

US Asks Vietnam to Free Key Prisoners before the President’s Visit

March 29, 2006

President George W. Bush will travel to Vietnam in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, and the U.S. is pushing the Vietnamese government to release political prisoners before he arrives.

The U.S. has asked Vietnam to release some of the key prisoners including journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, Phan Van Ban, a 69-year-old ex-police officer and Do Van My, a grassroots-activist. They were imprisoned for reporting on human rights issues within the country and also for joining religious groups.

According to Agence France Presse:

“‘I bluntly told the (government) officials that the American people will not understand why a country that wants to have better relations with us would imprison someone for translating an article on democracy,’ [Assistant Secretary Barry] Lowenkron said.”

“Lowenkron said he told Vietnamese officials that ‘dialogue without concrete progress would not just be an empty exercise, it would be counterproductive.’”

“‘I told Vietnamese officials that they must decide which Vietnam they will showcase to the international community: an open Vietnam, or a Vietnam that closes off its people from a world of ideas, information and opportunity,’ he said.”

To read the whole article, click here.

Central Highlands Gong Culture Recognized by UNESCO

March 29, 2006

Central Highlanders received a UNESCO certificate “recognizing Gong Culture as a world intangible cultural heritage” on March 28, Nhan Dan reported. This distinction emphasizes the need within Vietnam to protect valuable cultural assets and preserve them for future generations. Thousands of ethnic minorities from the Central Highlands attended the extravagant ceremony.

According to Nhan Dan:

“The ceremony was attended by President Tran Duc Luong, Politburo member and Head of the Party Commission for Ideology and Culture, Head of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Pham The Duyet and other high ranking officials.”

“Gongs were first used in Vietnam in the Bronze Age (Đông Sơn culture from 2,000 to 3,500 years ago). Ancient gongs were sometimes cast in gold or silver, but nowadays, most are made from an alloy of copper, zinc and lead.”

“Ede and M'nong ethnic minorities alone have preserved 3,375 sets of gongs. Many classes to teach children how to play gongs have been opened, and over 300 teams of gong players have been set up.”
“The cultural space of the gongs in Vietnam covers the five Central Highlands provinces of Dac Lac, Dac Nong, Kon Tum, Gia Lai and Lam Dong.”

Click here to read the whole article.

Journalist Beaten after Covering a Corruption Case

March 28, 2006

Reporters without Borders reported that a journalist working for the daily newspaper Thanh Nien was beaten up while taking photos of the arrest of Nguyen Mau Thon, an officer in the dummy company, Viet Hoa, which was managing embezzled money.

According to Reporters without Borders:

“The company head allegedly embezzled more than seven million dollars (nearly six million euros) of foreign aid from Official Development Assistance (ODA) to bet on European football matches. "We note the authorities' promise to boost security for journalists and we ask them to ensure that police identify those responsible for this violence," the press freedom organisation said.”

“His attackers - young men suspected of being in the pay of the company head - repeatedly elbowed the journalist in the stomach and smashed his head on the ground. They stopped him from taking pictures of the arrival of the deputy transport minister, Nguyen Viet Tien, also accused of having covered up the fraud.”


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