Statement of the VNHRN’s Chairman at the meeting with the President and the Vice-President of the United States on May 29, 2007
This Statement was addressed to President Bush and Vice-President Cheney by Mr. Nguyen Minh Le, Chairman of VNHRN during the meeting at the White House to discuss Vietnamese democracy and human rights on May 29, 2007.
The Vietnam Human Rights Network (VNHRN) believes that democratic countries instinctively respect human rights, and as a result, can co-exist peacefully. As democratic countries, Vietnam and China can be major contributors to a stable Asia and this is in our country’s interest. VNHRN believes that a future fourth wave of democratization in Southeast Asia will take place in Vietnam with a likely effect on China as The Economist magazine in its issue of May 19, 2007 has said. VNHRN believes that U.S. can advance its interests by fostering the democratization of Vietnam and possibly benefiting from this domino effect.
Since your visit in November 2006, Vietnam has brutally suppressed democracy activists, jailing over 20 of them. It has banned or sought to control religion. An independent press does not exist and the economic gap between the rich and poor and city dwellers and residents of the countryside keeps unjustifiably widening.
VNHRN believes that members of the Bloc 8406, the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights, the People’s Democratic Party, the Progression Party, the For The People Party and many other democracy activists in Vietnam are that country’s true patriots. The Vietnam Government continues to show indifference, arrogance and ignorance toward their constructive voices and the world’s opinion. It utilizes naked forces and various ruses in order to disband democratic organizations. As a result, some of the democracy activists are in jail, some are permanently watched, some are forced into submission and some have taken refugee in Cambodia.
VNHRN believes that Vietnam is eager to become a new beneficiary of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. Its rules require that a country must provide reasonable and effective protection to U.S. intellectual property rights, respect worker rights, and other statutory concerns.
VNHRN believes that unfair trade encourages Vietnam to violate human rights. While Vietnam enjoys the privilege of freely exporting all forms of print and audio-visual media to the U.S., it limits these imports from the U.S. into Vietnam.
Therefore, VNHRN would like to recommend the followings actions:
1. Insist that Vietnam release all political and religious prisoners before developing further business and military ties between the two countries, including Messrs. Nguyen Vu Binh, Le Quoc Quan, Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Van Dai, and Miss Le Thi Cong Nhan.
2. Put Vietnam back into the List of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) for its gross violations of human rights and religious freedom, especially of the Protestant Montagnards, The United Buddhist Church of Vietnam, and The Hoa Hao Buddhist Church.
3. Condition your support for Vietnam to be a non-permanent member of the Security Council on Vietnamese respect of the rights of free press, free speech and freedom of assembly.
4. Direct the U.S. Trade Representative and other relevant bodies to be vigilant to ensure that Hanoi meet its commitments, such as those made to join the WTO. On the occasion of the forthcoming renewal of the US-VN Bilateral Trade Agreement at the end of this year (2007) the U.S. should firmly demand that Vietnam abolish unfair trade practices.
6. Foster civil society by supporting financially and directly the independent NGOs operating inside Vietnam to help them work without hindrance from the Vietnam government.
7. Encourage a system of checks and balances in Vietnam and separate, equal and independent branches of government without any party above them.
8. Persuade the U.N. to have a permanent Human Rights Rapporteur in Vietnam.
9. Establish a regular meeting schedule, between the Administration and the Vietnamese-American human rights and democracy activists, and support a Vietnamese-American -run think tank on! Vietnam in the U.S. capable of functioning as a buffer between two cultures and languages.
VNHRN would be very glad to furnish additional detailed information and recommendations upon request.
“Robert” Nguyen Le