Vietnam civil society organizations’ comments to the 2015 ACSC/APF statement

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VRNs (Jun 06th, 2015) – Saigon –  To: Members of the Malaysian National Organizing Committee, Regional Steering Committee and Drafting Committee of the 2015 ASEAN APF/ACSC
          We would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves to you: We are the non-profit, non-partisan civil society organizations (CSOs) completely independent of controlling Vietnam government. Our CSOs are established according to Article 25 of the 2013 Constitution of Vietnam and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, our CSOs are still not recognized by the State of Vietnam.
           The CSOs that Vietnam government sending to ASEAN CSOs Community Conference as VUFO, GREENID, VPDF and CRSCH are established and funded by the government. Leaders of these organizations are officials of the Communist Party. Goals and activities must be under the direction of the government or Communist Party. In essence, they are not independent, but merely peripheral organizations or the extended arm of the Communist Party aiming at surveilling the people and fulfilling foreign affairs for the Communist Party.
           Our independent CSOs of Vietnam confirm that we have not received any drafts of the Joint Statement of the ASEAN Civil Society Organizations 2015 from the delegations called as representatives of civil society organizations in Vietnam. Therefore, we, hopefully, ask you to facilitate us to have a chance to participate either directly or via Skype to the upcoming conference.
           The independent CSOs of Vietnam recognize that:
           A- Crackdown on Civil Rights
           1. Thousands of human rights defenders have been impeded freedom of movement within the country and foreign traveling, confiscating passports and not being able to reside freely.
           2. The authorities manage to put pressure upon employers to fire human rights defenders. The former prisoners of conscience are banned working for NGOs and some careers.
           B-  Injustice on Human Rights
           3. Because the Vietnam Constitution regulates land owned by the state, the land grabbing for foreign investment projects led to the authorities confiscating land of farmers and households with too low cost compensation that they can not live on. Across the country, there have hundreds of thousands of land petitioners calling for help; thousands are beaten, and hundreds unfairly imprisoned due to complaints.
           4. The workers in Vietnam are paid the lowest minimum wage in the world while working in bad conditions and not allowed to establish their union. Many strikes were suppressed, and many leaders were imprisoned.
           5. In this context, the transnational corporations shall be liable to worsen to the process of grabbing land of farmers.
           Therefore, the independent CSOs of Vietnam submit comments on fundamental rights as follows:
           1. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly must be respected. The Vietnam authorities should stop harassing members of the independent CSOs and end preventing peaceful gatherings.
           2. People should have the right to form associations freely. The Vietnam authorities should stop using violence to attack human rights defenders. In 2014, there are about 150 people being attacked violently.
           3. The right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press in Vietnam should be fully implemented. There are 30 bloggers, journalists jailed by the authorities.
           4. People should have the right to private ownership of land. Every one’s land requisitioned for public welfare should be compensated fairly.
           5. The employee should be paid a wage sufficient to feed themselves, working in friendly environment and enjoying the right to form their union.
           6. The religion organizations should be independent of the government intervention in human resource and activities. The religion properties including land, pagodas, churches confiscated before should be returned.
           7. The Vietnam government should abolish the vague and unconstitutional laws in the Criminal Code, such as Article 258 “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens”, Article 88 “propaganda against the state”, Article 79 “conspiracy to overthrow the people’s administrative”. Two articles, Article 245 “causing public order” and Article 257 “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties”, should be specified to meet the international human rights standards.
All prisoners of conscience must be released unconditionally. At present, there are at least 106 prisoners of conscience behind bars.
Thanks for consideration in solidarity.
The independent CSOs of Vietnam co-signed”
1.    Bach Dang Giang Foundation:  Mr.Pham Ba Hai (MBE)
2.    Campaign Committee for Vietnam Writers’ Independent  Union: Writer Nguyen Ngoc
3.    Bauxite Viet Nam: Prof.Pham Xuan Yem, Prof.Nguyen Hue Chi
4.    Cao Dai Church, Human Livelyhood Sect: Mr. Hua Phi, Mr.Nguyen Kim Lan, Mrs. Nguyen Bach Phung
5.     Civil Society Forum:  Dr. Nguyen Quang A
6.     Evangelical Lutheran Community Church Vietnam-America: Pastor Nguyen Hoang Hoa
7.     Christian Mennonite Church: Pastor Nguyen Manh Hung, Pastor Pham Ngoc Thach
8.     Hoa Hao Buddhists Church, Purity: Mr. Le Quang Liem
9.     Friendship Association of Political and Religious Prisoners: Nguyen Bac Truyen (LLB)
10.  Brotherhood for Democracy: Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai
11.  Association to Protect Freedom of Religion: Ms. Ha Thi Van
12.  Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Father Phan Van Loi
13.  Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam: Dr. Pham Chi Dung
14.  Vietnamese Women for Human Rights: Ms. Huynh Thuc Vy, Ms. Tran Thi Nga
15.  Evangelical Protestant Chuong Bo Church: Pastor Le Quang Du
16. Democracy bloc 8406: Father Phan Van Loi
17.  Viet Labor: Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh
18. Oppressed Petitioners’ Solidarity Movement: Mrs. Tran Ngoc Anh
19.  Delegation of Vietnamese United Buddhists Church: Ven.Thich Khong Tanh
Mr. Jerald Joseph, Pusat Komas, ([email protected])
Mr. Yap Swee Seng, SUARAM ([email protected])
Ms Reileen Dulay, Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD) ([email protected])
Ms Nalini Singh, Asia Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) ([email protected])
Mr Gus Miclat, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) ([email protected])
Mr. Mark Barredo, ASEAN Youth Forum ([email protected])
Ms Marjorie Pamintuan, Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) ([email protected])
Gia Hartman, Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) ([email protected])
Ms Atnike Sigiro, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) ([email protected])
Thilaga Sulathireh, ASEAN Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Caucus ([email protected])
Mr Richard Gadit, Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP) ([email protected])
*Translation by Trang Thiên Long
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