Upon an unprecedented success of petition drive with the White House by Vietnamese-Americans for Human Rights in Vietnam. The Vietnamese-Canadian Community has initiated similar petition drive for Human Rights in Vietnam with the Canadian Federal Parliament in order to pressure the Vietnamese government to respect its citizens’ basic human rights.
The following is the template letter detailing the current abusive situation in Vietnam and how Canadian residents can help to contact their local representatives.
THAT while the Government of Canada has spent $12 million over the last 6 years to train Vietnamese lawyers and judges, judges in Vietnam continue to hand out outrageous sentences to political dissidents who call for freedom and democracy. This is due to the continued use of two vaguely defined articles, Articles 79 and 88 of the penal code, and the adoption or revision of various decrees to increasingly stifle freedom of expression. The broad and obscure provisions contained within these decrees are exploited by authorities in order to arbitrarily restrict legitimate speech of journalists and bloggers, and detain those that advocate for human rights through the usage of the internet, newspapers, radio, etc.
THAT religious and ethnic minority oppression is an on-going issue of critical concern in Vietnam. Violations such as the murder of dozens of Hmong Christians, the attacks on and plots to seize land of Thai Ha Parish, the attacks and torture at Con Dau parish, the attacks on Falun Gong practitioners, the conviction of the Mennonite Church pastors, the torture of Montagnard Christians, and the imprisonment of unsanctioned religious groups are daily infractions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The following people of ethnic minorities were given harsh sentences in 2010 and 2011: Kpa Sinh, 8 years; Rmah Hlach, 12 years; Siu Brom, 10 years; Siu Hlom, 12 years; Siu Koch, 10 years; Siu Nheo, 10 years; Rah Lan Blom, 9 years; Rah Lan Mlih, 9 years; Ro Mah Klit, 8 years; Kpa Y Co, 4 years; Ksor Y Du, 6 years; Ro Mah Pro, 9 years.
THAT freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is severely curtailed in Vietnam. The Communist Party of Vietnam continues to target internet users, bloggers, writers, journalists, and artists that oppose the party’s regime. Those who advocate by peaceful means for freedom, suggest ways to improve education or any aspect of society, or disseminate original pro-democracy compositions such as songs or documents are imprisoned and falsely charged with undermining national unity, inciting terrorism, or plotting to overthrow the government.
THAT freedom of assembly, as featured in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is also repeatedly denied. Vietnamese citizens who participate in peaceful protests, such as those who demonstrate for land rights, are beaten on the spot and immediately arrested.
THAT not only does the Vietnamese government blatantly violate the rights of its citizens, but it also conceals the efforts of those who advocate for human rights for citizens deprived of those freedoms; websites such as those of Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, etc. are blocked in Vietnam. This is an affront to freedom to information, as the Internet is a wealth of knowledge, and it is an effort by the government of Vietnam to keep its citizens in the dark with regards to their rights and freedoms.
THAT according to Human Rights Watch, over one hundred abusive forced labour facilities and “education centres” across Vietnam force detainees into hard labour. Their labour is either unpaid, or they are paid well below the Vietnamese minimum wage, reducing their meager wages even further by center-levied charges for food, accommodation, and “management fees,” and brutally punishing those who refuse to work. Many political prisoners have similarly been subjected to forced labour, primarily breaking cashew shells for export – Vietnam is a leading exporter of cashew, a US $2 billion industry.
THAT Vietnamese citizens detained in prison, regardless of the reason for arrest, are subject to inhumane treatment and denied visit by family members, shackled, and held in solitary confinement. Torture is commonly used during police interrogation, in detention centres, and in prisons. There have been reported cases of death resulting from torture.
THAT in 2010, the Vietnamese government re-arrested Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly despite his worsening health conditions.
THAT the Vietnamese government continues to put under house arrest the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, the 84 year old Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, and Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, a prominent political dissident, simply because they called for democracy and freedom in Vietnam. Both of them are Nobel Peace Prize nominees.
THAT according to Human Rights Watch, in 2011 alone, the government prosecuted at least 33 peaceful activists and sentenced them to a total of 185 years in prison, to be followed by a total of 75 years on probation on vague charges of “attempting to overthrow the government” or “spreading anti-government propaganda.” Well-known cases of people imprisoned / arrested in 2010 and 2011 include, among others:
THAT recently, on December 23, 2011, Vietnamese authorities arrested a young, well-known songwriter, Vo Minh Tri (also known as Viet Khang), for writing patriotic songs.
THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon Parliament to:
1/ Request the Government of Canada to urge Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, songwriter Viet Khang, journalist Nguyen Van Khuong, and the people listed above, as well as other prisoners of conscience, and people under house arrest such as the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do and Dr. Nguyen Dan Que.
2/ Request the Government of Canada to integrate universal human rights into trade and aid relations. We request that Canada cease non-humanitarian assistance to the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam unless it ends its human rights abuses against its own citizens and respects every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
3/ Request the Government of Canada to urge the Vietnamese government to repeal or modify the vaguely defined articles, such as Articles 79 and 88 in the penal code, and various decrees that are used to criminalize citizens who peacefully advocate for their rights to live as human beings.
We are writing this with the hope that the voice and actions of Canada, a country that puts the rights of people above all else, along with the those of the international community, would assure those who are promoting freedom and democracy in their homelands that they are not alone in their just struggle and that their fundamental human rights are valued and upheld around the world.
Committed to truth and accountability,