Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pro-democracy group holds significant support in Viet Nam

The exile-run, pro-democracy Viet Tan group is the “democratic pebble in Vietnam’s shoe,” Asia Times asserted on January 18.

Viet Tan’s origins lie with a group of exiled Vietnamese who aimed to overthrow the Communist Party-led government through a popular uprising in 1980, though since then it has advocated peaceful political change through underground activities. It surfaced as a public organization in 2004, and claims to be Viet Nam’s second largest political group after the ruling Communist Party. According to the article, it plans to carry out a 10-program action plan, including grassroots activities to improve social welfare, restore civil rights and promote pluralism openly inside Viet Nam.

Duy Hoang, a member of Viet Tan’s executive committee, believes that the current political climate in Viet Nam – notably, factors such as last year’s accession to the World Trade Organization and this year’s assumption of a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council – makes the Communist Party more sensitive than ever to outside pressure for reform.

However, there are considerable barriers in place that prevent the organization from acting publicly in Viet Nam. The article highlights the fact that on November 17, Vietnamese authorities arrested and jailed a group of Viet Tan members, including U.S., French, Thai and Vietnamese citizens, who distributed fliers calling for non-violent democratic change. Though four of the foreign nationals have since been released, one American and one Thai citizen are still in detention.

According to the article, “Viet Tan declines to reveal its membership figures, saying its ultimate strength lies in the power of its ideas, not its numbers.”

For the full article, click here.


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