The human rights situation in Vietnam “continues to deteriorate,” say civil society groups — H Talk Asia

The Vietnam Interfaith Council has joined forces with four organizations representing overseas Vietnamese to reiterate calls on Hanoi to honor its commitment to improving its human rights record.

The civil society organization fights for religious freedom in the country, but is not recognized by the government.

She issued an open letter with the international groups on Tuesday ahead of the 74th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Saturday.

“According to local and international NGOs, the human rights situation in Vietnam continues to deteriorate,” the letter said.

“Politically, the country remains a one-party system under the Communist Party, and the Vietnamese leadership has no intention of contemplating or accepting a change in its authoritarian model.

“This situation leads to clear and concrete consequences for the people, in particular arbitrary detentions, opaque and arbitrary death sentences and measures that hamper the activities of civil society.”

Le Quang Hien, a member of the Vietnam Interfaith Council, is a senior official of the Pure Hoa Hao Buddhist Church. He told RFA the government needs to do more to protect freedom of religion.

The pure Hoa Hao is not under government control, unlike the Buddhist Hoa Hao Church, which is permitted to hold religious ceremonies. As a result, he said the government of An Giang province — where the religion was founded — always prevents followers from attending church events.

“As in previous years, the human rights situation is not respected, especially for my religion. The Pure Hoa Hao Buddhist Church is always being harassed,” he said.

The letter’s signatories not only criticized Vietnam’s failure to uphold religious freedom, but called on the government to respect workers’ rights and said the country had “shown great reluctance to facilitate the establishment of an independent union.” It called on the authorities to ratify the International Labor Organization Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize.

A session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 24, 2020. CREDIT: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

The five organizations said Vietnam must do more to justify its admission to the United Nations Human Rights Council for its 2023-2025 term, ending their letter by urging the government:

“Fully respect and implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“Immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners held or sentenced solely for the peaceful expression of their views and positions; to end immediately all repressive measures against persons and organizations exercising and protecting fundamental freedoms such as speech, assembly, belief, association, etc.

“Accept the essential role of independent civil society organizations in areas such as religion, environment – ​​climate change, trade union activism and media; Create conditions for civil society organizations to contribute to the country’s development process without hindrance or oppression.

Truong Minh Tri chairs the Canadian Association of Vietnamese People, one of the four foreign organizations that signed the declaration. He said the international signatories represent the world’s largest Vietnamese communities and have the power to influence Hanoi.

“The foreign community wishes to speak out to remind the public at home and abroad that Vietnam continues to commit gross human rights abuses. We demand that Vietnam improve its human rights situation,” he told RFA.

“We are also raising the issue of human rights to remind the world that Vietnam deserves more to be a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

Tri said that in order for the Vietnamese government to improve its record, the overseas Vietnamese community must closely monitor the situation and lobby the government and politicians whenever they see rights violations.