Saturday, May 10, 2008

Speech of Bloc 8406 to the US Congress
on Vietnam Human Rights Day, May 8, 2008

By Nguyen Chinh Ket
(Overseas Representative of Bloc 8406)

Honorable Senators and Representatives of Congress of the United States
Ladies, Gentlemen and Distinguished Guests,

Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you on the current Human Rights situation in Vietnam. In my personal view, the situation is as follows:

1. Since the re-establishment of the US-Vietnam normalization, the human rights situation in Vietnam has not improved in accordance with expectations. If there appears to be any improvements, these are quite superficial and temporary, mainly to relief international pressure or to obtain a special short-term objective. After such an objective is achieved, the human rights situation in Vietnam crawls back to its previous condition. It is therefore not reasonable to rely on temporary evidence to conclude that there is human rights progress under the governance of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

In reality, the Vietnamese Communist Party continues to intimidate and oppress democratic dissidents, when these people express views that reflect the realistic dismal conditions in Vietnam; continues to allow corruptions to occur, in outrageous events such as the dispossessing of land from farmers and the illegal trafficking of human labor. When these people protest, to ask for the return of their land or to demand justice, they are subjected to harsh and direct intimidation measures. Or when students take to the street to protest against the illegal occupations of the group of islands called Paracels and Spratlys by China, they are subjected to oppressive measures (*1).

2. Economic developments in Vietnam have not led to the improvements in human rights practices, as expected by many. The reason is the Vietnamese Communist Party's refusal to change from a single-party-rule authoritarian regime. For example, they continue to proclaim the supremacy of its rule on the people by maintaining the validity of Article 4 of Vietnam's Constitution (*2), which guarantees the Vietnamese Communist Party's rule forever. As a result, benefits are reserved to a minority of people who pledged absolute loyalty to the Communist Party. These special party-loyalists are allowed to confiscate land from common citizens, to decimate natural resources, to skim off international developmental aid as well as natural disaster relief funds… These actions are allowed so as to purchase party loyalty. It is a vicious cycle in which these party loyalists become richer because they are loyal to the party. As they become richer still, they will become more loyal and thus more vicious against the common citizens in order to protect their personal wealth and power.

Economic developments within a non-democratic society can only lead to:

a. a richer group of minority authority figures

b. an increase in the power and means to subjugate the common citizens, by this group of minority authority figures

c. a condition in which poor people become poorer and have less power to protect themselves

All of these lead to a more and more severe imbalance and gap between the rich and the poor, within society.

For example, whether it is furnished with much economic wealth, a prison is still a prison by any definitions. And birds, kept within a well furnished cage among other stronger and nastier birds, can still perish from hunger for obvious reasons. These two examples clearly reflect the reality inside Vietnam today.

3. After his successful election campaign, President George Bush has stated that he will continue to support all democratic movements worldwide (*3). Eevn though Vietnam tried to contain many democratic movements, they were growing in terms of number as well as maturity. However, today, these movements are being eliminated by the Vietnamese Communist Party, one by one. The political dissidents inside Vietnam place much faith and hope in the statement made by President Bush and are counting on tangible actions from this statement. The installment of democracy inside Vietnam will help both of our countries. After all, having a relationship with a democratic Vietnam is indeed much more beneficial, both materially and ethically, for the US than having a relationship with a tyrannical regime like that of the Vietnamese Communist Party today.

4. The people of Vietnam today are on the verge of a very important threshold, as far as the process of democratization is concerned. The people are no longer paralyzed with fears caused by the oppressive tactics of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Moreover, people are willing to accept the risks associated with actions such as standing up for their rights. For instance, people from various strata within society have stood up to raise their concerns. Among these are students, laborers, artists, intellectuals who often use the Internet and blog pages to express their ideals and experiences as well as street protests.

In order to lend a hand of encouragement to the common citizens of Vietnam in their demand for human rights, and to solidify in the long-term mutual relationships between the people of Vietnam and the United States of America, we ask for your help on the following points:

a. Support and advocate for the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007 (HR 3096), put forth by Rep. Christopher Smith, in which concrete suggestions have been outlined with the purpose to assist with the democratization process in Vietnam.

b. Support and advocate for recommendations by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to place Vietnam back into the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC), because after the removal from this list, the human rights situation in Vietnam has greatly deteriorated.

Thank you for your attention. May God bless America and Vietnam.

Nguyen Chinh Ket

(*1) For example, the Vietnamese Communist Party committed attorney at law Bui Kim Thanh to an insane asylum, for the second time, as a punishment despite the fact that she is not ill. Also, two weeks ago, on April 25,2008, the Vietnamese Communist Party sentenced three members of Bloc 8406 to a total of 10 years in prison because these people protest peacefully against their rule. Also recently, the Vietnamese Communist Party authorized the arrest and physical mistreatments of people who were allegedly been planning to organize a protest against Chinese occupation of Paracels and Spratleys islands… Religious freedom in Vietnam has shown no improvement as well. It is somewhat relieved when there is international pressure and then elastically regresses afterwards. (See the Report On Continuous Violations Of Human Rights In Vietnam in the attached document)

(*2) Article 4 in the current Vietnam’s Constitution recognizes, legitimizes and guaranties the Vietnamese Communist Party to be the only party that can and will rule the country.

(*3) President George W. Bush said: “Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you. Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country. The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it ”. (cf:

The document attached to the speech:

P. O Box 648, Buu Dien Bo Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, April 15. 2008


January 2008:

§ Jan. 6: The Vietnamese communist authorities mobilized a massive police force to round up the followers of the Catholic Diocese of Thai Ha, Dong Da district, Hanoi while they were rallying to pray for the return of a land property which was the historic site of the Vietnamese Catholic Church's Office of the Apostolic Nuncio that the communist government unlawfully took over years ago.

§ Jan. 9: Uniformed and plainclothes police were called up to quell a demonstration staged by youths and college students in Hanoi and Saigon to protest expansionist China. Scores of protesters were arrested.

§ Jan. 10: Victim of injustice Luong Van Sinh, a resident of Binh Thuan province, was imprisoned on charges of joining Bloc 8406 Bloc and communicating with 'reactionaries'.

§ Jan. 15: The People's Democratic Party (PDP) denounced the communist government's intentional use of harsh treatment and forced labor against such political prisoners as Le Nguyen Sang, MD, lawyers Nguyen Bac Truyen, Tran Quoc Hien and Nguyn Van Dai, and journalist Huynh Nguyen Dao.

§ Jan. 16: The For the People Party (FPP) denounced the communist government's inhumane treatment of journalist Truong Minh Duc, Kien Giang province, who has been detained since May 5,2007. Having denied medical care for his broken arm due to an accidental fall, his health has been seriously deteriorating.

§ Jan. 19: The Vietnamese communist authorities continued to employ various measures of repression against youths and college students in Hanoi and Saigon who staged peaceful demonstrations protesting communist China, mainly the interrogations and arrests of a number of bloggers, including film director Song Chi, war veteran Hoang Hai, lawyer Phan Thanh Hai, poet Bui Chat, Quoc Dung, Uyen Vu, Anh Bang, Le Hao, as well as other college and high school students. A police checkpoint was installed in front of writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia's residence in Hai Phong to prevent him from joining the demonstrations in Hanoi. Many protesters were ruthlessly beaten by the police and numerous others, teacher Vu Hung of Ha Tay included, arrested.

§ Jan. 21: Former police officer Ta Phong Tan submitted a letter denouncing illegal arrests made by the Cau Ong Lanh precinct police in District 1, Saigon.

§ Jan. 25: Lawyer Le Quoc Quan, a H'Mong ethnic woman and other Catholic faithful were severely injured during a police roundup of praying protesters in front of the defunct Office of the Apostolic Nuncio in Hanoi.

§ Jan. 29: Citizens Truong Quoc Huy and Hang Tan Phat were each sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment and 3 years of house arrest for having allegedly distributed anti-State leaflets.

§ Jan. 30: The communist government issued two unconstitutional, undemocratic and anti-human rights decrees (No. 11/2008 and 12/2008), aimed at prohibiting worker strikes.

§ Jan. 31: The authorities was forced to free writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy due to her poor health conditions after she had been unjustly held for 9 months and 10 days and subjected to constant slandering and harsh treatment, which led to her quickly deteriorating health.

§ Jan 31: Democracy activist student Nguyen Tien Nam was unjustly detained by the police of Trang Tien ward, Hanoi; he was brutally terrorized, both physically and mentally.

February 2008:

§ Feb. 3: Journalist Hoang Hai (blogger Dieu Cay) in Saigon was unlawfully forced to report to a police interrogation.

§ Feb. 5: Hoang Hai was taken back for another interrogation from 6 p. m. to 10 p. m. at the police station of Precinct 8, District 3.

§ Feb. 8: Police arrived at the residence of journalist Nguyen Xuan Nghia in Hai Phong, threatening to beat him up if he attempted to attend Prof. Hoang Minh Chinh's funeral in Hanoi.

§ Feb. 11: Venerable Thich Nhat Ban, Dong Nai province, a member of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UCBV), was harassed at his Ba La Mat temple by the police of Long Thanh district, Dong Nai province. Meanwhile Mr. Tran Khue in Saigon was prevented from boarding a plane to attend Prof. Hoang Minh Chinh's funeral in Hanoi.

§ Feb. 12: Mr. Do Nam Hai in Saigon was prohibited from leaving Saigon for the funeral while Venerable Thich Khong Tanh was harassed on his way to Hanoi to perform religious rites for the deceased professor.

§ Feb. 12 & 13: The police of Tuy Phuoc district, Binh Dinh province, subjected Monk Thich Dong Tho and Venerable Thich Minh Tuan, head of the UBCV Nguyen Thieu Monastery, to unlawful interrogations.

§ Feb. 14: A large police force installed a checkpoint in front of journalist Nguyen Khac Toan's home in Hanoi, preventing him from attending Prof. Hoang Minh Chinh's funeral. Messrs. Ha Si Phu, Bui Minh Quoc, Vu Hung, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Thuong Long, and Do Duy Thong were also subjected to other measures of movement restriction and isolation.

>§ Feb. 15: Dr. An Nhan, an American of Vietnamese descent, was expelled from Vietnam to prevent him from attending the funeral.

§ Feb. 16: The communist authorities violated civil rights and current laws by blocking public access to Prof. Chinh's funeral in Hanoi. They took Mrs. Duong Thi Xuan into police custody from 9am to 4pm at the police station of Lac Trung precinct, Vinh Tuy district, Hanoi. At the funeral, Mr. Le Thanh Tung and female lawyer Bui Kim Thanh were threatened and roughed up excessively.

§ Feb. 16 & 18: Journalist Hoang Hai (blogger Dieu Cay) was again forced to report to another illegal interrogation by the police of Precinct 8, District 3, Saigon.

§ Feb. 17 –20: Mr. Vo Van Nghe, a member of the Democratic Party, Century XXI, was interrogated by the police in Thanh Hoa province, who accused him of anti-Party activities and forced him to leave his own party.

§ Feb. 22: The FPP denounced the illegal 262-day detention of student Dang Hung before he was released on February 1,2008 and placed under unlimited house arrest in the province of Dak Lac.

§ Feb. 24: Mrs. Ngo Thi Mai Huong, in an interview with the RFA radio network, charged the communist government of inhumanity by not allowing her to enter Vietnam to visit her husband, Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, who has been detained without reason since Novemebr 17,2007.

§ Feb. 25: Assemblyman Peter Gitmark of Norway's Conservative Party, disclosed in an interview with the Fædrelandsvennen newspaper that he had been interrogated at his hotel by Vietnamese police and forced to leave Vietnam immediately after his visit to writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy's home on February 21,2008.

§ Feb. 25: Members of the United Workers and Farmers Organization of Vietnam were finally sentenced by the Court of Appeal to prison terms, respectively Mr. Doan Van Dien to 4 years and 6 months of imprisonment (without probation) ; Mrs. Tran Thi Le Hong (Le Hang),3 years of imprisonment; Mr. Doan Huy Chuong (aka Nguyen Tan Hoanh), Mrs. Nguyen Thi Tuyết, and Mr. Phung Quang Huyen, each 1 year and 6 months of imprisonment.

§ Feb. 25: The FPP denounced the government's mistreatment of political prisoner Truong Minh Duc, currently held in a prison in Kien Giang province.

§ Feb. 29: Mr. Do Nam Hai's freedom of movement continued to be violated when he tried to board a plane leaving Saigon for Hanoi.

March 2008:

§ Mar. 2: Many residents of the 9th district of Saigon were detained in connection with a demonstration for the return of their land properties on November 22,2007 in front of the district office of the People's Committee. They included Kieu Van Hoa, Nguyen Van Tuan, Nguyen Van Nang, Luu Quoc Luan, Nguyen Nam Dien, Nguyen Thi Tho, Nguyen Thi Dung, Do Thi Mai, Duong Thanh Truc, Nguyen Thi My Van.

§ Mar. 4: Lawyer Bui Kim Thanh was again arrested and held against her will in the Bien Hoa mental hospital.

§ Mar. 6: Mr. Kpa Kloh,41, died, according to the Protestant BosNews news agency, on February 20,2008, as a result of being brutally tortured at a prison in Phu Yen province, surviving his wife and 6 children. He had been reportedly arrested and ruthlessly tortured since February 9,2008, not mentioning previous police assaults and arrests.

§ Mar. 6: Mrs. Ngo Mai Huong, in a letter requesting the release of her husband, Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, denounced the communist consular office in San Francisco, CA, as she was denied a visa to enter Vietnam to visit her detained husband.

§ Mar. 7: In an interview with RFA, Pastor Nguyen Van Dien of the Protestant Church of Vietnam, Tra Vinh branch, denounced the provincial authorities who had forced various houses of worship to close and severely beaten their followers, including Pastor Nguyen Van Dien, and Mr. Thach Sanh of the Tra Cu branch. Another Khmer faithful named Kim Hone and many others were also assaulted.

§ Mar. 9: Lawyer Phan Thanh Hai, member of the Free Journalists Club, denounced the Saigon authorities who had intentionally harassed and caused hardship to his company's business.

§ Mar. 10: Venerable Thich Thien Hanh denounced the police who had sent 200 policemen to blockade and harass the Nguyen Thieu Monastery at the beginning of the (Lunar) New Year of the Rat. They have threatened to expel from the monastery Monk Thich Dong Tho, a close disciple of the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, head of the UBCV Institute for the Propagation of the Dharma.

§ Mar. 12: The communist authorities circulated a draft that would constitutionally violate the people's human rights by attempting to muzzle the freedom of information. Its title was "Decree to Regulate and Punish Administrative Violations in the Management, Provision and Use of Internet services and Electronic Communication on the Internet. "

§ Mar. 24: Mr. Le Thanh Tung denounced the officials of Chuong My district, Ha Tay province, who had illegally handcuffed victim of injustice Tran Van Loc for a full year, violating his human rights.

§ Mar. 27: Mr. Do Nam Hai was forced by the Phu Nhuan district police in Saigon to report to a police interrogation; his personal office equipment was confiscated, without his presence, in a police search of his home.

§ Mar. 27: Mrs. Ho Thi Thuong, wife of Mr. Doan Van Dien (recently sentenced to prison) denounced in an interview with RFA that local authorities had threatened her verbally and obstructed her interview.

§ Mar. 28: Journalist Truong Minh Duc was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment by an illegal trial court in Vinh Thuan district, Kien Giang province during which he was not accompanied by a defense lawyer or allowed to defend for himself despite the fact that he had been mistreated in prison.

April 2008:

§ April 2: The UBCV's International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB) denounced Vietnamese communist police who had raided several UBCV temples, namely Giac Hai in Lam Dong province and Phuoc Hue in Quang Tri province, in preparation for the upcoming government-hosted International Vesak Day.

§ April 3: Venerable Thich Thien Minh, in Urgent Notice, No. 2 of the Former Political and Religious Prisoners Association, denounced Bac Lieu provincial officials who had used dirty tricks to harass, slander, blemish, and "publicly denounce" him in the mass media.

§ April 4: The Viet Tan Party condemned, in its Press Release No. 15, the communist authorities for having illegally arrested its members Nguyen Tan Anh, Mai Huu Bao and Nguyen Thi Xuan Trang on March 4,2008, when they arrived from the US for a visit to their party comrades, Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan and Mr Somsak Khunmi, and collaborators Nguyen The Vu and Nguyen Viet Trung, who all are currently held at the B34 prison at 237 Nguyen Van Cu Street in the 1st district of Saigon.

§ April 4: Mr. Do Nam Hai was again forced to have another interrogation concerning documents promoting democracy, stored in his computer that the police illegally
confiscated on March 27,2008.

§ April 5: Viet Tan party members Nguyen Tan Anh, Mai Huu Bao, and Nguyen Thi Xuan Trang, released under international pressure, were immediately expelled from Vietnam.

§ April 8: The UBCV's IBIB denounced the attempt of the [State-sanctioned] Buddhist Church of Vietnam to take over Giac Hai Temple in Lam Dong province by expelling Venerable Thich Tri Khai from the temple. .

§ April 9: A massive force of armed personnel and riot police forces was mobilized to ruthlessly quell a demonstration of the Khmer Krom people in An Giang province demanding the return of confiscated land.

§ April 10: The Catholics of Thai Ha were threatened and harassed while they were peacefully praying for the return of the Church's properties, in the wake of the government's false accusations and propaganda concerning their peaceful demonstrations.

§ April 11: Relatives of dissidents Nguyen Ngoc Quang, Pham Ba Hai, and Vu Hoang Hai denounced, in a RFA interview, the communist government which had illegally held these detainees for over 2 years without trial.

§ April 13: A large contingent of police was sent to disrupt a meeting of democracy activists in Hanoi by threatening, slandering and assaulting the attendees; Mr. Le Thanh Tung was afterwards taken away together with a number of victims of injustice.

§ April 14: Over 300 people of Ja-Rai ethnicity rallied at a demonstration in Iato village, Cho Se district, Gia Lai province, displaying the 3-red-stripes-on-a-yellow-field flag (of the former Republic of Vietnam) and demanding for the return of their land. Many were brutally crushed; others had to flee.

The CHRV strongly condemns the Vietnamese communist government for having repeatedly violated human rights in the first 3 months of 2008. The CHRV hereby calls upon all concerned Vietnamese and people throughout the world to exert adequate pressure in
order to improve the situation of serious human rights violations in Vietnam.