European Parliament condemns crack-down on dissidents and calls on Europe to reassess its policy of cooperation with Vietnam

2007-07-12 | | Vietnam Committee

STRASBURG, 12th July 2007 (Vietnam Committee) – In its plenary session in Strasbourg today, the European Parliament adopted a “Resolution on Vietnam”, condemning repression against dissidents, religious persecution, the incompatibility of Vietnam’s legislation with international human rights laws, and the double game played by the Vietnamese authorities in regards to the international community. In view of the grave human rights situation and the attitude of the Vietnamese authorities, the European Parliament calls upon the European Council and Commission to “reassess the policy of cooperation with Vietnam” in view of the 1995 EU-Vietnam Cooperation Agreement which is based on “respect for democratic principles and fundamental rights”.

The resolution follows a month of intensive campaigning by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights to inform members of the European Parliament on the recent crack-down in Vietnam. The Resolution is a common project of five political groups, i.e. the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (PPE-DE), the Socialist Group (PSE), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the European United Left (GUE, including the Communist Party) and the Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN).

Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights and International Spokesman of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam warmly welcomed the EP Resolution: “This Resolution is perfectly timed, and will give courage to all the dissidents and their families crushed by Hanoi’s totalitarian machine. It also proves that European MPs are not fooled by the manoeuvres of the Vietnamese government which succeeded in deluding many Western governments last year”. The Resolution recalls that in 2006, Vietnam feigned political opening in order to obtain membership of the WTO, removal from the US blacklist of “Countries of Particular Concern” for religious freedom violations, and the granting of favoured trade relations (PNTR) by the US Congress.

“For us, it is especially significant that the EP has broken the silence imposed by Vietnam – and followed by some of international media – on the intolerable repression suffered by members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV)”, said Vo Van Ai, adding that this repression continues unabated. The EP Resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang (87) and UBCV Deputy leader Thich Quang Do (79), who “have been imprisoned without trial in their monastery since 1982 for the sole reason of being ardent supporters of religious freedom, human rights and democracy” and deplores that “members of the provincial committees set up by this Church in 20 poorer provinces for the purpose of assisting the most deprived are subjected to harassment, interrogation, intimidation and ongoing threats, simply because of their connections with the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam”. The Resolution further calls on Vietnam to re-establish the legal status of the outlawed UBCV.

The EP Resolution gives an overview of Vietnam’s wide-ranging repression in every domain: political repression against intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, artists, priests and ordinary citizens who simply call for democracy and human rights, such as Bloc 8406; religious repression and racial discrimination against the ethnic Christian Montagnards and Khmer Krom Buddhists; religious persecution against Protestants and Hoa Hao communities etc. Since March 2007, more than 15 dissidents have been sentenced to 66 years in prison and 30 years under house arrest in a series of unfair trials. The European Parliament demanded their immediate and unconditional release.

Vo Van Ai also commended the European Parliament for calling on Vietnam to repeal or revise its “national security” laws as the United Nations has repeatedly urged: “As long as these national security remain in force, Vietnam can never enjoy democracy or the rule of law”, he said. Noting that Vietnam had announced the abrogation of Decree 31/CP on “administrative detention, the European Parliament expresses concern that the Decree has been replaced with the more repressive Ordinance 44 adopted in 2002 on “Regulating Administrative Violations”, “which extends the scope for detaining dissidents without trial and resumes the old and sinister practice of placing dissidents in psychiatric hospitals”.

Ordinance 44, which was adopted at the very moment Vietnam presented its periodic report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (July 2002), empowers local authorities and Police to detain persons suspected of “threatening national security” under administrative detention without trial for 6 months to 2 years, or to have them interned in mental hospitals.

Courtesy of Queme.net – http://www.queme.net/eng/news_detail.php?numb=820

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