Friday, April 4, 2008

Letter to US Senators and Representatives

Vietnam, June 19, 2007

Dear US Senators and Representatives:

In these recent days, the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet, is supposedly “representing” Vietnamese citizens in his meetings with President Bush, Senators and Representatives, government officials, businessmen, and the media in the United States of America.

We, the undersigned, are the interim representatives of BLOC 8406, which comprises of tens of thousands of members inside and outside of Vietnam determined to confront the Vietnamese Communist authorities in a non-violent struggle for a democratic, free, multi-party, and pluralistic Vietnam.

First and foremost, we, as BLOC 8406 representatives and as members of the larger pro-Democracy community, would like to express our deepest gratitude to you, our Senators and Representatives,for your continuing support of our struggle, particularly from May 2007 to the present day. In particular, we would like to thank:

• Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) for meeting with the relatives of the Vietnamese dissidents in HaNoi on May 4, 2007

• Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for writing to the Secretary of State on April 9, 2007 to express her concern about the violations of freedom of religion, press, etc. in Vietnam

• Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) for drafting Bill HR 243, which has been passed by the US House of Representatives on May 2, 2007 with a unanimous vote

• Representative Earl Blumenauer (D–OR) for resigning from the position of Chairman of the US-Vietnam Caucus and for drafting Bill HR 447 on May 24, 2007 in opposition to the Vietnamese Communist Party’s condemnation of the pro-Democracy dissidents

• Representative Edward Royce (R–CA) for writing to the Secretary of State on June 5, 2007 to urge that Vietnam be re-instituted into the list of Countries of Particular Concern on June 6, 2007

• Senator Sam Brownback (R–KS) for voicing his opposition against the oppression of the Vietnamese people by the Vietnamese Communist Party during his meeting with a group of Vietnamese Americans in Iowa on June 9, 2007

• The many Senators and Representatives who have joined us in our protests and events in the past few days.

As you have supported us in the past, we would like to ask for your continued support during this crucial historical event, the visit of President Nguyen Minh Triet and his delegation. By no means does this delegation represent the Vietnamese people. During the most recent Congressional Election in May 20, 2007, citizens were harrassed and pushed to the voting polls like animals. The result was that the Party received 493 representatives, with 91% being Party members. The Party does NOT receive unified voluntary support of the Vietnamese people, even though the media claimed 99% voting participation rate.

As we have learned from our experience with previous Vietnamese delegations, they tend to expound certain “truths” that are proven false by the evidence provided below. We would like to respectfully outline them to you now in order to present a counter-perspective to what will be claimed by the delegation:

1- Human rights violation continue to occur: In order to achieve economic and political objectives or to alleviate international pressure and criticism, the Vietnamese Government will often release a few token political prisoners. Recently, they have granted freedom to three political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, which is no different than transferring them from a smaller prison to a larger one, namely the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Furthermore, these prisoners were not recognized as political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, but rather as criminals. Despite the promises made by the Vietnamese Government to the international community in order to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), to receive Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status, and to be removed from the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list, the Vietnamese government has continued to violate human rights, making these three recently released dissidents only a few among hundreds of arrested dissidents. These prisoners are living testaments of the betrayal of Vietnamese Government committed against the international community.

Ironically, President Nguyen Minh Triet has recently announced “Vietnam has surpassed a war and thus now understands what it means to not have human rights and freedom. That is why we have the utmost love for the basic rights of human beings.” The truth, however, is that anyone who dares to ask for human rights has been harassed and arrested. Either through organized entities such as the Mat Tran To Quoc Vietnam or the Youth Groups of the Communist Party, or through their eyes and ears in all religious, commercial, political establishments, the Vietnamese Government is able to crush all possible oppositions from the very start. Opposition to the Party is also made illegal in the Vietnamese Constitution (Article 4).

2- The rule of law is virtually non-existent: The Vietnamese Government frequently points to the fact that a strong judiciary system exists in Vietnam. While it is true that trials do take place, these trials are for those who have committed no crime aside from voicing opposition to the party and result in unjust sentencing, such as the recent trials (March 30, 2007 at Hue, May 3, 2007 at Dong Thap, May 10, 2007 at saigon, May 11, 2007 at HaNoi, May 15, 2007 at Saigon) of high-ranking official who have dissented. The ultimate proof of the Vietnamese Government hyprocritically claiming the existence of a just judicial system is the image of Father Nguyen Van Ly with his mouth covered by the bare hands of the a government official during his trial on March 30, 2007. This image stands as the literal and figurative representation of the Vietnamese Government silencing the voices of the people.

3- Favorable investment opportunities are created at the expense of the people’s livelihood: The delegation will very likely claim that Vietnam has very favorable investment opportunities, especially for foreign companies looking for cheap labor, loose environment protection laws and a plethora of natural resources. With labor laws that make it difficult for workers to strike or protest, foreign companies can count on cheap labor (average wage per capita per month stands at $50). The labor union currently lies in the hands of the Party, whose members protect the rights of the business owners. Those who have established the Independent Labor Union of Vietnam or the Unified Agricultural Union have been harrassed or imprisoned. Furthermore, in order to make land available to foreign companies in both urban and rural areas, the Vietnamese government has evicted many people out of their homes with little or no compensation.Those who have taken legal actions against the government in these property cases rarely get their issues resolved, and some have been fighting for generations, only to return empty-handed.

Senators and Representatives, these incidents mentioned above are testiments to the fact that President Nguyen Minh Triet’s delegation does NOT represent the Vietnamese people. Their efforts in establishing relationships with the United States are to fulfill their own agendas, and not for the prosperity of the Vietnamese people. We believe that as long as this one-party, pro-Marxist government still exists, there can be no possibility of a righteous relationship between the two nations, no economic development that would benefit the people, and most importantly, no human rights for the Vietnamese people. We strongly urge that the US Congress take note of the above in your exchanges with President Nguyen Minh Triet’s delegation.

Again, we expresss our most sincere gratitude for your support. May God bless you and the United States of America.

Respectfully yours,

Interim representatives of BLOC 8406

Ðỗ Nam Hải, Engineer, Sài Gòn
Trần Anh Kim, Former Army Officer, Thái Bình
Phan Văn Lợi, Catholic Priest, Huế.