COLLECTIVE LETTER TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF STATE
Re. CPC Status for Vietnam
February 7, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Re: Urgent request to put the Socialist Republic of Vietnam back on the CPC List
It is with a sense of extreme urgency that we would like to join the chorus of our many representatives on Capitol Hill in asking that the State Department reinstate the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on the CPC (Countries of Particular Concern) List, which the State Department was kind enough to have taken the SRV off back in 2006 on the assumption that Hanoi could be sweet-talked into abandoning its savage ways of dealing with established religion in Vietnam.
May we start by saying that we fully understand the rationale behind the U.S. gentle approach, known as constructive engagement, of offering the totalitarian regime in power in Vietnam lots of economic and financial incentives, including a bilateral trade agreement and admission into WTO, even a temporary chairmanship of the UN Security Council, so that it could join the increasingly globalized world of nations, a world of law and order. This is a worthy cause and it has brought much improvement in the relations between the U.S. and Hanoi, two formerly enemy nations.
However, we should not overlook the fact that Hanoi has played on what it considers U.S. indulgence, if not ignorance, when it comes to realities on the ground. First, the SRV is an avowedly Marxist-Leninist state, a country which is openly atheistic, which following Marx considers religion to be an "opiate of the people"--thus deserving to be done away with. This is not just theory, it is actually taught in the schools through compulsory courses on the so-called "scientific socialism," on the history of Marxism-Leninism, and on the history of Vietnamese Communist Party (CPV). Furthermore, there is another aspect that is too important to ignore: established religion (like Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Cao Dai and Hoa Hao Buddhism) is the only social force capable of mobilizing large masses (in the hundreds of thousands at times) and thus threatens the survival of the CPV. This explains why the government does all it can to hinder the various churches’ activities, and to deprive them of their properties, schools, hospitals, orphanages, leprosaria, and any income-earning source so as to eliminate them as possible competitors for the loyalty of the people. When not even a single independent religious bulletin is allowed publication for the last many decades, it defies logic to call such a place a satisfactory country as far as religious freedom is concerned.
With the State Department refusal to put Vietnam back on the CPC List, the whole world can see the gaping contradictions in the U.S. policy towards Vietnam in this regard. On the one hand, the UN Rapporteur on Religious Freedom, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the NGOs (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, etc.), and a vast majority on the Hill and practically everyone in the 1.5 million-strong Vietnamese American community, who after all should know about what is going on and what is happening to their families, friends and associates at home, are convinced that Hanoi should be sanctioned for its repression of religion inside Vietnam while the State Department is the lonely holdout in this regard--ignoring even its own annual reports on religious freedom around the world (including Vietnam). The obvious consequence of such misreading is what happened to Mr. Christian Merchant in Hue when he recently tried to visit Father Nguyen Van Ly, a person whom he had been able to visit when he was still in jail, without incidence. With such blatant violation of diplomatic immunity Hanoi seems to launch the challenge: We dare you to make an issue of it!
Should we give in because of some niceties that we could now come up with, again whitewashing such behavior--behavior that we would not tolerate even in a traditional allied country like France or England?
That is why, as representatives of a majority of Vietnamese American organizations in the Diaspora, we would strongly urge you, Madam Secretary, to give your very best consideration to this question of reinstating the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on the CPC List. In so doing, you would not only be aligning U.S. policy with the Hill and the rest of the U.S. establishment and opinion molders in this country, you will also gain respect in the world and in Vietnam for living up to the American high standards when it comes to human rights and religious freedom. And of course, we would be eternally grateful to you, as through you we can impact our "old country" and steer it towards a more civilized way of life.
Before closing, may we wish you, Madam Secretary, the best of year in the (lunar calendar) Year of the Cat.
Alliance for Democracy in Vietnam (Nguyen, Quoc Nam - Chairman of the Executive
International Institute for Vietnam (Doan, Viet Hoat – Chairman)
National Congress of Vietnamese-Americans (Nguyen, Ngoc Bich – President)
Rallying for Democracy (Nguyen, Quoc Quan – Chairman)
The People’s Democratic Party (Do, Thanh Cong – Spokesperson)
Vietnam Center for Human Rights (Tran, Thanh Hiep – Chairman)
Vietnam Human Rights Network (Nguyen, Ba Tung – Chair, Coordination Committee)
Vietnam National Party (Tran, Tu Thanh - Chairman, Overseas Coordinating Council)
Vietnam Restoration Party (Tran, Quoc Bao - Chairman)
Viet Tan Party (Do, Hoang Diem – Chairman)
Doan Viet Hoat, Spokesperson
Tel.: (703) 256-0277 - Fax: (703) 256-0918
Email: email@example.com – Web: www.doanviethoat.org