November 14, 2013
Following the mechanisms for electing four out of five candidates for Asia, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Maldives, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 term. The previous withdrawal of Jordan from the election paved the way for these four countries to win their seats in an uncontested manner.
Under UN Resolution 60/251, as a member state, Viet Nam, including both the government and its 90 million citizens, are obliged to uphold core values in promoting and protecting human rights as well as to respect provisions that Vietnam has voluntarily committed itself to. This obligation was confirmed by Vietnam's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Pham Binh Minh, after Viet Nam's election, who stated “[Vietnam shall] fully implement obligations and commitments as a member state of the UNHCR and the United Nations.”
In light of Viet Nam's successful election to UNHCR, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers holds the opinions that:
To be a credible member of the UNHRC, Viet Nam must implement its obligations and commitments through specific actions rather than mere statements by government officials.
In particular, Viet Nam should:
1. Agree to the seven UN requests, not yet been met by the Vietnamese government, to allow UN delegations to visit Viet Nam to investigate alleged human rights abuses;
2. End torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment of any and all Vietnamese citizens as provided for by the UN Convention against Torture, to which Viet Nam has been a state party since November 7, 2013;
3. Release those who are being imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and other rights based on core and universal values in UN treaties.
4. Repeal vaguely-worded laws and decrees which are arbitrarily interpreted, such as Article 258 of the Penal Code, on “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights of organizations and/ or citizens...”;
5. End the state monopoly on media and publishing; ensure that all individuals and organizations are entitled to establish media agencies and publishing houses; remove firewalls that bar users from accessing social media networks; and nullify Decree 72 72/2013/NĐ-CP which tightly restricts freedom of expression and of information online.
As free citizens and with the understanding that Viet Nam's membership of UNHRC means all the 90 millions Vietnamese people are members of the Council, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers will participate in and contribute to upholding core values in promoting and protecting human rights and respecting provisions that Viet Nam has voluntarily committed itself to.
In particular, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers will call on every Vietnamese citizen to:
1. Publicly disseminate human rights documents of which Viet Nam is a signatory, specifically the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Convention against Torture, and related documents.
2. Openly facilitate human rights discussions and/ or advocacy events for human rights, employing diverse means, such as social gatherings, picnics, and salons, and walking or biking for human rights.
3. Assign network delegates to UNHRC offices in particular and UN offices in general to report on human rights in Viet Nam and to submit petitions and requests for change, so that the Vietnamese people can truly enjoy universal human rights and establish Viet Nam’s credible member of UNHRC.
4. Work with individuals and organizations to build an online database in order to record human rights violations in Viet Nam, which concerned individuals and organizations, including government agencies, can easily access in order to promote and protect human rights as well as to fulfill the obligation and commitments of a member of UNHRC.
5. Conduct the official inauguration ceremony of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers on December 10, 2013 to mark the International Human Rights Day established by the United Nations.
The Network of Vietnamese Bloggers