Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Vietnam: Fledging Democracy Movement Under Threat

Human Rights Watch recently reported that hundreds of Vietnamese peoples have publicly called for numerous reforms within the existing regime. Two public petitions were created in early April—the “Appeal for Freedom of Political Association” and the “2006 Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam”—and have been signed by many citizens including former Communist Party Officials, veterans, academics, teachers, nurses, engineers, former political prisoners, Catholic priests, Buddhist monks, etc.

According to HRW, Vietnamese authorities have responded to the recent public appeals for democracy with interrogations and detainments of some of the more well known activists. Yet, the strong public outcry for basic human rights does not appear to be deterred by this.

According to this piece:

“Among the initiators of the April appeals are prominent dissidents and former political prisoners from Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, including academic Hoang Minh Chinh, teacher Nguyen Khac Toan, Hoa Hao Buddhist leader Le Quang Liem, professor Nguyen Chinh Ket and Catholic priests the Rev. Chan Tin and the Rev. Nguyen Van Ly.

"The group’s first public statement, an “Appeal for Freedom of Political Association," was released on April 6 and signed by 116 individuals. On April 8, the “2006 Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam” was released and signed by 118 people. The five-page manifesto calls for: a pluralistic and multiparty political system; freedom of information and of opinion; freedom of religion; freedom to participate in independent labor unions; and freedom to assemble, form associations and political parties and stand for elected offices. As of May 8 – the one-month anniversary of the manifesto – 424 citizens had signed on.

“On April 30, the activists, calling themselves the “04/08/06 Group” – the date of the manifesto – issued a protest letter signed by 178 people to denounce the harassment of Do Nam Hai, the Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang and Nguyen Van Dai. In that letter, two prominent Catholic priests, the Rev. Phan Van Loi and former political prisoner the Rev. Nguyen Van Ly, threatened to go on indefinite hunger strike if the arrests and harassment continued.”

To read the article in full, click here


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