Chairman Royce Questions Witnesses at Hearing on U.S. Relations with Vietnam

The title says it all. The United States’ Chairman Ed Royce also said it all at this recent subcommittee hearing concerning human rights issues in Vietnam. Powerful words and indisputable points.

“… at some point, our actions have to match our words. We are at that point with Vietnam. Seriously. You can’t have 40 cases like this in 6 weeks and not have the United States take decisive action.”

May their actions match their words. Kudos to Chairman Royce!

Washington D.C. Protest – International Human Rights Day Dec. 10, 2011

“PREAMBLE

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

So begins the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no doubt an important foundation for a potential world peace.

On International Human Rights day, December 10, 2011, in Washington D.C., a few activists and myself stood in front of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and read the articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in English and Vietnamese through a megaphone. Our goal was simple. We wanted to remind the government of Vietnam that all human beings, regardless of which side of the hemisphere they live in, are entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms. In light of the Vietnamese government’s recent crackdowns on activists and bloggers, it was clear to many, if not all, that the government of Vietnam was violating some of the following articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including but not limited to:

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 3.

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 9.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

  • (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

The recent arbitrary arrests of Vietnamese youth activists and bloggers in Vietnam blatantly violates articles 9, 11, and 12 above. The methods by which they were detained violates article 5. The coercive silencing of the detained activists in court (if any hearing is held) violates article 10. And the ordeals that these activists are subjected to are a breach of articles 1 and 3.

It was a cold day, that Saturday Dec. 10, but we definitely felt the warmth coming from the flames of liberty. We believe that these flames are spreading, and will one day sweep over the lands of the oppressed, like quenching rain that falls on barren desert that has experienced drought for too long. The people thirst and hunger for justice, freedom, and liberty…

(Note 1: The complete Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be found at the following link: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml)

(Note 2: A member of Viet Tan has informed me that the arrests of the Vietnamese youth activists also violate articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, more information can be found at the following link: http://www.viettan.org/Vietnamese-Government-urged-to.html)

– Anh Nhật

HS.TS.VN

DEMONSTRATION IN PROTEST OF CHINA‘S VIOLATION OF VIETNAMESE TERRITORY

Sunday, June 19, 2011 – Outside the Chinese Consulate, downtown Toronto

A protest was held by members of the Vietnamese-Canadian community this past Sunday to support the ongoing protests inside Vietnam over China’s encroachment onto the Vietnamese Paracel and Spratly Islands, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. In the past several weeks, protests in Vietnam have been increasing in number and size, led predominantly by Vietnamese youths who organized the rallies via online forms of networking and communication such as Facebook. This movement comes at a critical time in Vietnam, when China’s pressure to overrun Vietnamese territory has become more persistent and violent by the day.

The purpose of the demonstration in Toronto was:

  • To protest and condemn Communist China’s invasion and claims over Vietnam’s territorial land and waters, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
  • To support the patriotic spirit of the Vietnamese youth and citizens who are actively protesting the wrongful actions of the Chinese communist government and the cowardly behaviour of the Vietnamese communist government, who are putting Vietnam’s territory at risk. 
  • To join hands with the Vietnamese people across the world to condemn both the Chinese and Vietnamese communist governments.

The turnout was great, showing the will of the Vietnamese refugee community to stand up for our homeland and showing our brothers and sisters overseas that we stand united with them in the movement to protect and improve the future of Vietnam.

Video footage shot by anh Vinh. Photos courtesy of bác Tuấn and PBC’s Jace Nguyễn.

Ottawa: Protest Against Communism

Sunday, April 17, 2011 – Ottawa, ON.

This past Sunday, the Chinese and Filipino communities and Vietnamese-Canadians from Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, Ottawa, and other regions of Canada gathered in front of the Chinese and Vietnamese embassies in Ottawa to voice their protest against communism and its endless injustices and atrocities, and also to show our support that Vietnam might see a “Jasmine Revolution” of their own. A few hundred participants were present for the peaceful protest, wielding signs and banners that read “Human Rights for Vietnam,” “Freedom for Vietnam,” “Revolution Jasmine is Revolution Lotus,” and similar strong, positive messages in English, French, and Vietnamese. Megaphones amplified our strongest “weapon”: our voices.

Of course, many youth members of the community were in attendance that chilly Sunday morning, including members from DTNPBC Toronto and local Vietnamese Student Associations (VSA). At the end of the day, it was a another successful protest.

Look forward to more updates as Black April commemoration (April 30th, the 36th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon) approaches!

Thank you to our photographer Brian Nguyen.

“1 Million Against 79” Campaign. Free Them NOW!

Millions around the globe are once again expressing their outrage after the recent unlawful arrests of 4 more democracy activists inside Viet Nam. Dozens have long been arrested by the Vietnamese communist government for simply expressing to the public their pro-democratic thoughts and opinions. They boldly spoke out against the corruption, and refused to cower under the oppression.

These admirable activists have been and are being detained without just cause or reason, and many were sentenced under Article 79 of the Penal Code in Vietnam, which carries a maximum penalty of capital punishment. Under article 79, the communist government can order the arrest of just about anyone with whom they are displeased or anyone they fear may threaten their state of absolute control in any way… which, I might add, is just what those shameless cowards would do.

Below is a link to the details of Article 79:

Penal Code: Article 79

We hold our activists in high esteem and give them our full support, but I realize that before being activists they are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, husbands and wives… and there is no humanity in the government which makes them and their families suffer for their righteous beliefs and truthful opinions.

The following link comes from the Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party) website, and is a section focusing on news of and from the detainees and their families:

Viet Tan: Free Them Now!

Clearly, we cannot tolerate this endless chain of injustice and corruption. Even now, democracy activists in Vietnam are fearlessly defending the rights of their country and people. Therefore we who have all the Freedom we could want should do no less to support them.

How can YOU easily contribute, wherever you may be?

1. If you own a Facebook account, you can contribute to the cause by donating your status and changing your profile picture to one of the images shown above. Let the world know that you and millions of others are against Article 79.

2. You might also want to make a home video to post on the world wide web, expressing your support for the cause and concluding with the phrase, “I am 1 of 1 million against 79.” Below I’ve linked my brief video response as an example, which I’ve posted on Facebook (excuse the poor quality).

3. Visit the Viet Tan website above and learn the truth, then follow the steps under the “What You Can Do” section. Start by signing the petition! And then forward it to your family and friends.

http://www.facebook.com/v/445365303492

Thank you for reading. You know what to do! 😀

The websites and pictures belong to their respective owners. Many thanks to them for their hard work.

18-09-2010 Fundraising for Democracy Activists in Vietnam

September 18, 2010: Fundraising for Democracy Activists in Vietnam – Tiệc Gây Qũy Yểm Trợ Phong Trào Dân Chủ Cho Việt Nam

Last Saturday evening at the Royal Dragon Restaurant in Mississauga, our Vietnamese-Canadian community came together to organize and support a charity dinner in order to raise funds for democracy activists in Vietnam. These righteous, brave, and outspoken activists have been and continue to play a crucial part in supporting the movement for freedom, democracy, and human rights in Vietnam, all of which are virtually non-existent and ever overshadowed by the corrupt communist government and their unjust ideals. From where we are, in any way possible, we must give them our full support!

We also had honoured guests who made the trip from the United States to contribute their support. Mr. Đỗ Thành Công, a former political prisoner and democracy activist who was unjustly imprisoned by the Vietnamese communist government, was one such guest in attendance at the charity. He gave a rousing powerpoint presentation detailing his knowledge of critical issues that Vietnam is and will soon be facing due to the incompetence and corruption in the country and especially within the governing party. Mr. Đỗ Thành Công and three of his party members were arrested in August of 2006. He himself was arrested and subsequently deported. Lê Nguyên Sang, a member of the People’s Democratic Party of Vietnam (Đảng Dân Chủ Nhân Dân) served 4 years in prison for violating article 88 of the criminal code, which forbids “conducting propaganda against the state.” They were released recently in 2009 and 2010. However, the irony is that these prisoners have never actually posed a direct threat; they simply spoke aloud their mind, and their words did not agree with the government–hence they were imprisoned without just reason or cause.

Concern is ever growing. The amount of jail sentences for political prisoners in Vietnam totals to about 187 years, and that is only from what we do know at this point. Dozens of independent bloggers and democracy activists like Ms. Phạm Thanh Nghiên, Ms. Trần Khải Thanh Thủy, and Ms. Lê Thị Công Nhân, just to name a few well-known activists, have been arrested (in some cases also beaten) in Vietnam and no doubt we will see more of such injustice to come if we sit idly and do nothing to stop it.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese government has been relying on communist China for “protection,” yielding its lands to the threatening and rising superpower to the North–lands such as Hòang Sa and Trường Sa, Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly Islands, an act that has caused an uproar from Vietnamese around the globe and even within the usually suppressed country. The Vietnam-China border continues to move, wherein China expands their territory while Vietnam is losing more land. By buying the “protection” of a similarly communistic country, the Vietnamese communist party ensures that they will remain in absolute power. Vietnam has proudly upheld its own for thousands of years, and to let this happen is not only an outrage, but I feel like it is a tragedy, as well.

I managed to learn a lot on Saturday between the stress of performing and the awesome fun we had dancing. I couldn’t catch all of Mr. Đỗ Thành Công’s presentation, though he covered a lot of very serious and note-worthy aspects and what I do remember I have already written about here. I am so glad to have the opportunity to not only attend but also be of help to the organizers. After every successful event, I get that awesome feeling of gratefulness that I am able to be a part of an amazing community and know the most inspiring people whom I love enough to call family. 😀

P.S. Check out the links I’ve put up on the left of my page, too. I just added the link to “VietAm Review.” The blog is in English and contains some very interesting politically-charged articles. 🙂

Thanks for reading!