Friday, July 26, 2013

Bloggers Demand Vietnam Comply with Human Rights Rules

Your friendly human rights guardians
Hanoi under consideration for UN Human Rights Council seat

A network of 65 Vietnamese bloggers are demanding that the country amend its laws to demonstrate a commitment to cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council on human rights before it can qualify to become a member of the UN organization.

The group sent its petition to 17 major human rights and governmental organizations this week. 

The country is a candidate for the US Human Rights Commission for 2014-2016 despite the fact that it maintains one of Southeast Asia's strictest policies against dissent. On July 19, US State Department officials told a Congressional subcommittee that closer ties with Vietnam, in particular weapons sales, are on hold until there is "continued, demonstrable, sustained improvement in the human rights situation."

Unfortunately, the UN has had a record of appointing some of the world's worst human rights violators to the Human Rights Council, including Saudi Arabia, China, Congo, Cuba and Qatar, causing the Bush administration to withdraw from the body. The Obama administration has returned to the organization, insisting on US membership since 2009.

Certainly, concerns over human rights so far haven't slowed Vietnam's crackdown against bloggers. Police arrested yet another one on June 13, charging Pham Viet Dao with "abusing his right of free speech to undermine the interests of the State." According to the Associated Press, 43 dissidents have been jailed this year, twice the pace of 2012. 

"Vietnam must demonstrate its commitment to cooperating with the HRC and upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights," the Vietnamese petitioners said in the document, made public earlier this week. "These obligations and responsibilities do not only apply on the international arena, but also inside Vietnam. The Vietnamese government also needs to review the human rights situation in their own country and the Vietnamese people also have a right to freedom of opinion and expression, including on these matters.

"In order to improve the protection of human rights in Vietnam, we will take HRC's principles as guidelines for our actions, which also comply with Vietnam's obligations under international human rights law. The blogger group reported in their open letter that they will continue to attempt to stand up for human rights policies. Their demands follow:

"We will:

- Continue to promote and inform the Vietnamese people about their rights by publicly distributing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), organizing public forums to discuss human rights in Vietnam and advocating for necessary improvements of the respect and protection of human rights.

- Continue to monitor, publicly report and comment on improvement, setbacks, or violations of human rights in Vietnam, with a focus on policy and practice by the Vietnamese authorities that affect human rights.

In order to fulfill these responsible actions, we call upon the Vietnamese government and the HRC to review Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code, amended in 2009 - "crime of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens."

In May, two bloggers were detained right after they distributed the UDHR and police accused them of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state. Only weeks later, two other bloggers were detained after participating an outdoor picnic to discuss the content of the UDHR.

Most recently, in May and June 2013, Article 258 was used to arrest blogger Truong Duy Nhat, Pham Viet Dao, and Dinh Nhat Uy for exercising their rights of freedom of expression by peacefully publishing texts on their blogs.

This article is in breach of the Article 19 of the UDHR: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

It would be a great responsibility to serve as a member state of the Human Rights Council, and an opportunity to promote human rights domestically and abroad. For a successful candidacy, we believe Vietnam must repeal or make amendments to Article 258 to ensure that Vietnamese people are free to educate themselves about and promote human rights.

We hope that Vietnam will consider the abrogation of Article 258 to demonstrate its commitment and contribution to promoting and protecting human rights, and we hope that the General Assembly members will push Vietnam to do so during the campaigning period.

We request Vietnam to present its human rights pledges as a candidate well before the election, to enable members of the General Assembly to assess its human rights commitment. The abrogation of Article 258 should be among the pledges.

As said by Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General - "All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action." As advocates for freedom of expression in Vietnam and victims of human rights violations because of our activism, we view Vietnam's candidacy for the HRC as a platform for constructive human rights discussions in our country.

List of the Vietnamese Bloggers Signing the Statement

STTHọ TênĐịa chỉFacebook / Blog
1Võ Quốc AnhKhánh Hòa
2Hoàng Quốc BảoSài Gòn
3Ngô Trung BộSài Gòn
4Phạm Lê Vương Các Sài Gòn
5Huỳnh Ngọc Chênh Sài Gòn
6Nguyễn Thảo Chi Sài Gòn
7Hoàng CườngHà Nội
8Vũ Tuấn CườngHà Nội
9Nguyễn Đắc Hải DiOslo (Norway)
10Nguyễn Nữ Phương DungSài Gòn
11Lê DũngHà Nội
12Hoàng Văn DũngSài Gòn
13Nguyễn Văn DũngPhu Tho
14Trương Văn DũngHà Nội
15Lã Việt DũngHà Nội
16Mai Xuân DũngHà Nội
17Ngô Nhật ĐăngHà Nội
18Nguyễn Chí ĐứcHà Nội
19Trương Minh ĐứcBình Dương
20Nguyễn Đình HàHà Nội
21Hoàng Thu HàHà Nội
22Lê Minh HảiSài Gòn
23Nguyễn Phước HảiSài Gòn
24Phạm Văn HảiKhánh Hòa
25Bùi Thị Minh HằngBà Rịa Vũng Tàu
26Nguyễn Vũ HiệpHà Nội
27Nguyễn Hải HoànNam Định
28Nguyễn Huy Hoàng
29Vũ Sỹ HoàngSài Gòn
30Huỳnh Thái HọcKhánh Hòa
31Nguyễn Thị HơiNam Định
32Trịnh HộiCalifornia, USA
33Lê Anh HùngQuảng Trị
34Trần Văn HuỳnhSài Gòn
35Nguyễn Việt HưngYên Bái
36Nguyễn Việt HưngHà Nội
37Đặng Thị HườngHà Nội
38Nguyễn Hồng KiênHà Nội
39Nguyễn Xuân KimNghệ An
40Bùi Tuấn LâmĐà Nẵng
41Đặng Ngọc LanHà Nội
42Lê Thị Phương LanHà Nội
43Thùy LinhHà Nội
44Vũ Thị Thùy LinhHà Nội
45Đào Trang LoanHà Nội
46Lê Thăng Long Sài Gòn
47Đinh Hữu MinhHà Nội
48Nguyễn Tiến NamYên Bái
49Nguyễn Việt NamHà Nội
50Trần Thị NgaHà Nam
51Phạm Thanh NghiênHải Phòng
52Vũ Quốc NgữHà Nội
53Đào Hữu Nghĩa NhânSài Gòn
54Bùi Thị NhungNinh Bình
55Tô OanhBắc Giang
56Lê Hồng PhongHà Nội
57Phan Văn PhongHà Nội
58Hà Sĩ PhuLâm Đồ
59Phạm Tiến QuốcSài Gòn
60Nguyễn Trần Quyên QuyênSài Gòn
61Nguyễn Ngọc Như QuỳnhKhánh Hòa
62Lê Trung SơnHà Nội
63Trương Minh TamHà Nam
64Nguyễn Công ThanhSài Gòn
65Trịnh Hoàng ThanhHà Nội
66L.M. Anton Lê Ngọc ThanhSài Gòn
67Hồ Đức ThànhHà Nội
68Lưu ThànhSài Gòn
69Nguyễn Hồ Nhật ThànhSài Gòn
70Phạm Văn ThànhParis (France)
71Nguyễn Lân ThắngHà Nội
72Châu Văn ThiSài Gòn
73Khổng Hy ThiêmKhánh Hòa
74Võ Trường ThiệnKhánh Hòa
75L.M. Giuse Đinh Hữu Thoại Sài Gòn
76Huỳnh Công ThuậnSài Gòn
77Nguyễn Tường ThụyHà Nội
78Trịnh Kim TiếnSài Gòn
79Nguyễn Thành TiếnHải Phòng
80Phạm ToànHà Nội
81Trịnh Văn ToànHà Nội
82Lê Thu TràHà Nội
83Nghiêm Ngọc TraiHà Nội
84Phạm Đoan TrangHà Nộ
85Nguyễn Thu TrangHà Nội
86Hoàng Đức TrọngSài Gòn
87Phạm Văn TrộiHà Nội
88Hoàng Anh Trung Hà Nội
89Huỳnh Chí TrungSài Gòn
90Nguyễn Anh Tuấn Đà Nẵng
91Trịnh Anh TuấnĐăk Lăk
92Vũ Quốc TúSài Gòn
93Đặng Vũ TùngSwitzerland
94Nguyễn Chí TuyếnHà Nội
95Lê TuyếtHà Nội
96Nguyễn Hoàng Vi Sài Gòn
97Nguyễn Văn ViênHà Nội
98Bùi Quang ViễnSài Gòn
99Lê Công VinhBà Rịa Vũng Tàu
100J.B Nguyễn Hữu VinhHà Nội
101Nguyễn Xuân VuiKhánh Hòa
102Đặng Tuấn VũHà Nội
103Huỳnh Thục VyQuảng Nam

List of International Organizations Receiving the Statement
1. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
2. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
3. Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
4. Human Right Watch
5. Freedom House
6. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
7. International Freedom of Expression Exchange network (IFEX)
8. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
9. Civil Rights Defenders
10. Amnesty International
11. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
12. Human Right Law Network
13. Southeast Asian Human Rights Studies Network (SEAHRN)
14. Southeast Asia Press Alliance(SEAPA)
15. Swedish International Development Cooporation Agency (SIDA)
16. Open Society Foundation (OSF)
17. Front Line Defenders

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