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Summary of Events Related to Human Rights in Vietnam - Since January 1, 1999

Jan 4: Lieut. Gen. Tran Do, a VCP member of 58 years and former head of Committee on Culture and Ideology, was stripped of his communist party membership ahead of the party plenum. This measure was taken as a consequence of his open criticism, through his series of writings since late 1997, of the VCP for its self-serving agenda, its cumbersome government and its oppressive security apparatus.

Jan 7: Amnesty International released a report on Vietnam, criticizing its political repression. Though its release of 13 prisoners of conscience in Sept. 98 was welcomed, it is strongly urged to respect the expression of political and religious beliefs.

Jan 10: Prof. Doan Viet Hoat, a former political prisoner well known around the world, went on a tour of Europe to work with government and non-government organizations on behalf of freedom and democracy in Vietnam.

Jan 19: International press reported that local government for joining Protestant churches had intimidated Hmong villagers in the northern highland of Vietnam. A letter written by 40 Hmong's in the village of Ha Giang, representing 300 highlanders, complained of intimidation and threat of imprisonment and torture by local authorities. The report claimed there are about 150,000 Hmong Protestants whose 30 leaders are being jailed.

Feb 2: Mr. Ha Si Phu (a.k.a. Nguyen Xuan Tu), a political dissident, and his family were reportedly harassed by VCP in Da Lat, Vietnam.

Feb 10: Large crowds of Vietnamese gathered to protest the hanging of Ho Chi Minh's portrait and VCP flag inside a video store by businessman Tran V. Truong. The protests continued for nearly two months, focusing on continual abuses of human rights by the VCP. Many VN overseas youth organizations from all over the world joined in protests against the human rights violations by the VCP.

Feb 13: VCP Gen. Le Hong Son protested the ouster of Gen. Tran Do, calling the Vietnam party-centered government too cumbersome and negligent in responding to the needs of the population. Mr. Hoang Huu Nhan, former minister of Heavy Industry, also made public his protest of Gen. Tran Do's ouster and the lack of achievements by the communist government.

Feb 15: Reader's Digest interviewed Ms. Duong Thu Huong, a freelance writer in Hanoi, for her dissenting views with the communist party. Ms. Huong, who was a proletariat party member and ex combatant, has published numerous works accusing the VCP for systematically exploiting and oppressing the people of Vietnam for its own selfish interests.

Feb 20: Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, issued his official report accusing the government of Vietnam of severely restricting religious activities and harassment and imprisonment of religious leaders. Mr. Amor complained that VN government had repeatedly tried to obstruct and interfere with his visits to various religious leaders in and outside of prisons.

Feb 26: US State Dept. released a report on human rights abuses in Vietnam, stated that the Vietnam government's human rights record remained poor; although there was measurable improvement in a few areas, serious problems remain. The Vietnam government continued to repress basic political and some religious freedoms and commit numerous abuses.

Mar 4: Dr. Nguyen Thanh Giang, 63, a dissident geophysicist, was arrested and imprisoned for having anti-communist materials, as claimed by the VCP. Prior to his arrest, security police visited these other dissidents and warned them of further crack downs: Hoang Minh Chinh of the Marxism-Leninism Institute, writer Hoang Tien, journalist Vu Huy Cuong, political analyst Nguyen Kien Giang, and Hoang Huu Nhan, former party secretary of city Hai Phong.

Mar 23: Ven Thich Quang Do, 72, Secretary General of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), was arrested and harassed when visiting Ven. Thich Huyen Quang, 81, being under house arrest in the district of Nghia Hanh, province of Quang Ngai.

Mar 25: US organizations started a drive to have Prof. Doan Viet Hoat honored by US Congress for his struggle for Human Rights in Vietnam. The resolution was sponsored by four US Representatives Mr. Thomas M. Davis III (R-11/VA), Ms. Zoe Lofgren (D-16/CA), Ms. Loretta L. Sanchez (D-46/CA), and Mr. Christoper H. Smith (R-4/NJ).

April 2: Hanoi's Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, during a trade conference in Melbourne, was confronted by Vietnamese and Australians with accusations of human rights abuses. He was demanded by the Unified Buddhist Church in Australia (UBCA) to release from prison monks like Ven's Thich Thien Minh and Thich Hue Quang, and from house confinement of Ven. Thich Huyen Quang in Nghia Hanh, province of Quang Ngai that began in 1982. UBCA also protested the harassment of UBCV's Secretary General Ven. Thich Quang Do by VN police.

April 7: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, a famous VN dissident and ex-political prisoner, met with US congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (Garden Grove, CA) in Saigon. He predicted that VN would have freedom and democracy within 5 to 10 years. He appealed for vigorous intervention by the American people and government to protect human rights in VN.

April 8: Ven. Thich Quang Do, 72, Secretary General of UBCV, calls for democracy for VN and cautioned the international organizations against sending unconditional aids to VN, which will only reinforce the oppressive communist regime. Ven. Do had been sentenced to 5 years for sending aid reliefs to flood victim in 1994.

April 9: Le Van Bang, VN ambassador to the US, was confronted with human rights issues by the Vietnamese community in Austin, Texas, during his investment promotion with other ASEAN members, who suggested that economic must accompany social and political reforms.

April 14: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, in an interview with the South China Morning Post, claimed to personally know over 100 other political prisoners are being kept in various prisons. Dr. Que recalled horrible physical and mental tortures carried out routinely against dissidents by the communist jailers.

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