A brief statement by genuine Vietnamese civil society organizations

We have been victims of Vietnamese communist dictatorship for a long time. Vietnamese dissidents and human rights defenders are frequently put under surveillance, harassed, persecuted and even imprisoned for their peaceful work. Human rights and dignity, and even the lives of Vietnamese men and women, are trampled on by police and security forces while GONGOs look the other way. Because the government-sponsored NGOs run by the Vietnamese Fatherland Front (VCP's instrument) continue supporting the authorities to oppose human rights, civil liberties, and the democratization of Vietnam

FVPOC | Cập nhật 04/04/2015

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This statement is jointly issued by the following organizations including those marginalized from the so- called “Vietnamese national process for ACSC/APF 2015”:

I- First of all, we recognize the important and indispensible role of ASEAN independent civil society organizations (CSOs) in promoting prosperity, stability, and democratization for every ASEAN member nation and for all the people of ASEAN.

 We also regard dictatorial regimes and their “government-organized non-governmental organizations” (GONGOs) are a serious hindrance to justice, to democratic processes, and to the development and survival of genuine civil society.

II- Therefore, representing independent Vietnamese civil society organizations, we respectfully ask ASEAN civil society organizations to support us in:

(1) Urging the Vietnamese Government to release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience.

(2) Urging the Vietnamese Government to stop persecution and arbitrary arrests of dissidents, human rights defenders, and unregistered religious groups.

(3) Demanding that the Vietnamese Government implement a transparent and verifiable process to repeal articles of the Penal Code that violate internationally recognized human rights, such as the criminal laws against  “injuring the national unity,” “abusing democratic freedoms”, and “propaganda against the state.”

(4) Demanding that the Vietnamese Government reform the laws to comply with international standards regarding human rights, social justice, and non- discrimination.

(5) Urging the Vietnamese Government to change the laws and social, administrative, and politicalinstitutions to facilitate the formation and activities of all independent civil society organizations.

(6) Demanding that the Vietnamese Government immediately stop its smear campaigns in the news media and cyber-attacks against dissidents, bloggers, prisoners of conscience, and human right activists.

III- We have been victims of Vietnamese communist dictatorship for a long time. Vietnamese dissidents and human rights defenders are frequently put under surveillance, harassed, persecuted and even imprisoned for their peaceful work. Human rights and dignity, and even the lives of Vietnamese men and women, are trampled on by police and security forces while GONGOs look the other way. Because the government-sponsored NGOs run by the Vietnamese Fatherland Front (VCP’s instrument) continue supporting the authorities to oppose human rights, civil liberties, and the democratization of Vietnam.

IV- And now we believe that it is now time for genuine NGOs to build strong international connections to protect ourselves and to empower the underprivileged and marginalized people in Vietnam.

We do completely endorse the 2015 ACSC/APF Joint Statement. But we do not endorse the ACSC/APF official nominations deriving from the Vietnamese national process. We also have no alternate nominations.

Independent CSOs hope that our position will be considered similar to the case of Cambodia where there are 2 processes for both independent CSOs and GONGOs.

Our seasoned activists are banned from travel abroad, so it is impossible for us to send our representatives to to join the APF 2015 in Malaysia.

Because Vietnamese authorities maintain a hostile attitude and carry out repressive actions against the independent CSOs, we do not want to deal with them until they show some goodwill. So we will not have any interface with the government in the coming conference. We believe it cannot be a genuine interface between civil society and the government if both representatives of GONGOs and the government work for the Vietnamese Communist Party.

We also believe that the good reputation ASEAN CSOs have earned in defending human rights, achieving better living conditions for their people, and promoting education, social justice, and democracy will be undermined if ACSC/APF is occupied by GONGOs from member countries, especially from Vietnam.

Finally, therefore, we call for more collaboration among genuine ASEAN CSOs – and especially with genuine CSOs in Vietnam and other countries whose governments actively suppress civil society — for a more people-centered, democratic, and prosperous ASEAN community.

Supporting organizations:

1) Campaign to Abolish Torture in Vietnam, coordinated by Vu Quoc Dung;

2) Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA), coordinated by Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang;

3) BPSOS International Initiatives, coordinated by Atty. Gia Hartman;

4) People Serving People Foundation.

5) Canadian Youth for Human Rights in Vietnam

Vietnam, April 3, 2015