December 2, 2010
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Madame Secretary,
We are a group of representatives of Vietnamese-American and Vietnamese overseas organizations which have been concerned about the violations of basic human rights by the government of Vietnam. We understand that there will be a new round of human rights dialogue between the US and Vietnam on December 13-14, 2010. We would like to take this opportunity to call your attention to the need for more concrete achievements than just more talk on human rights issues in Vietnam. The people of Vietnam have been deprived of basic civil and political rights for such a long time that they have begun to express their frustration violently during the last few years. We urge the US government help bring about more cultural, civil and political openness and freedom so that stability and sustainable development will become real and lasting in Vietnam.
The 2009 US State Department annual human rights report noted that Vietnam’s “human rights record remained a problem. Citizens could not change their government, and political opposition movements were prohibited”. We would like to present more concrete and recent cases of oppression and detainment of opposition and dissenting voices in our attached Report and the most updated List of Political and Religious Prisoners in Vietnam. We believe that the present oppression will be accelerated as the National Congress of the Communist Party comes close. So far, there have been no signs of civil and political changes at and after this National Congress. The Party’s leaders ignore the call of veteran party members for political renovation which for the latter is necessary even for the party’s existence.
Vietnam has achieved fabulous progress in economy because the people have more freedom in economic activities. Restriction and oppression of freedom in cultural, civil and political activities have deprived the people of the rights to monitor government officials, and to make them accountable to the people. Consequently, social injustice, corruption, abuse of power widespread with no mechanism of check and control. Monopoly of political power goes hand in hand with manipulation of financial and economic opportunities, which creates a dangerous situation of not only social injustice, but violent protests and riots throughout the country during the last few years. Being coupled with schemes from the Chinese government to infiltrate into the Vietnamese government and society politically, economically, culturally and even militarily, this situation creates great threat to the stability of Vietnam and that of the region.
We strongly believe that Vietnam can maintain stability and equitable development only when the Vietnamese people can change their government through democratic process, and when political opposition movements can carry out their activities peacefully and legally. We therefore request that in the coming US-Vietnam human rights dialogue, the US representatives should push for the following concrete results from the government of Vietnam:
1. to stop criminalize those who express their opinion independently, and defend peacefully basic cultural, civil and political rights;
2. to stop violating the present Code of Criminal Procedure (2003) in detaining innocent people;
3. to release all political and religious prisoners;
4. to release, as a first step, the following recently detainees and prisoners: political activists Pastor Duong Kim Khai, Ms. Tran Thi Thuy, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tam, Prof. Pham Minh Hoang, Vi Duc Hoi; bloggers Nguyen Van Hai, Phan Thanh Hai, Le Quoc Quyet, Uyen Vu, Le Nguyen Huong Tra; labor activists Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, Do Thi Minh Hanh; and two Christian evangelists Ksor Y Du and Kpa Y Co.
We are thankful for the opportunity to take part in the briefing session of your Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) on the coming US-Vietnam human rights dialogue. We believe that it would be more fruitful if Vietnamese-American and American human rights NGOs would participate in future US-Vietnam human rights dialogues. And human rights improvement should be reviewed and assed by DRL officials and NGOs before each new round of dialogue.
Finally, we thank you, Madame Secretary, for publicly raising your concerns about “arrest and conviction of people for peaceful dissent, attacks on religious groups, and curbs on internet freedom” by the government in Vietnam, and for supporting efforts “to pursue reforms and protect basic rights and freedoms” in your recent visit to Vietnam. We urge you to continue your pressure for respect of human rights in Vietnam and consider it as a condition to bring US-Vietnam relationship to a deeper and more comprehensive level.
• Alliance for Democracy in Vietnam (Nguyen, Quoc Nam, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee)
• Dai Viet Revolutionary Party (Nguyen, Van Lung, Vice-Chairman)
• International Institute for Vietnam (Doan, Viet Hoat, Chairman)
• National Congress of Vietnamese Americans (Nguyen, Ngoc Bich, Chairman)
• The People’s Democratic Party (Do, Thanh Cong – Spokesperson)
• Vietnam Center for Human Rights, Paris (Tran, Thanh Hiep, President)
• Vietnam Human Rights Network (Nguyen, Ba Tung, President)
• Vietnam National Party (Tran, Tu Thanh, Chairman, Overseas Coordinating Council)
• Vietnam Restoration Party (Tran, Quoc Bao, Chairman
• Viet Tan Party (Do, Hoang Diem, Chairman)