Statement of Vietnamese Independent Civil Societies on the Occasion of the 40th Anniversary of April 30, 1975

In 1976 the CPV Politburo issued Resolution 254 to do away with the capitalist and compradore class, proceed with reforming the capitalist and private industries and trade networks, thus destroying a once prosperous economy. At the same time, the Party sent tens of thousands of urban dwellers to New Economic Zones and in the process stealing their land and homes. As a result, the country stood on the brink of disaster, so much so that in 1986 the CPV had to come up with the "Doi Moi" ("Renovation") policy, seeking to restore the economy towards a market economy. The material life of the people almost at once became more breathable, but the Party members took advantage of the occasion to become "red capitalists." The 1992 Constitution, in Articles 17 and 18, and the Land Law of 1993 thus came up with this weirdo concept: "All of the nation's resources belong to the entire nation under the unified management of the state." Private land rights are done away with and the people becomes tenant workers for the state while it is not unusual for Party members to own hundreds of hectares of land and orchard. The CPV also introduced another weirdo concept known as "a market economy with socialist orientation," a concept which has not yet found anyone able to define it, with state-run enterprises as the leading sector (Cf. Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution and Article 51 of the 2013 Constitution). Many giant corporations and combines have been created and put under the management of Party members and their cronies but they all ended up in the red, mired in corruption and bankruptcy, equivalent to hundreds of thousand, nay millions of billions of VN dong.

FVPOC | Cập nhật 10/05/2015

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          Dear Compatriots inside and outside of Vietnam,

          To Democratic Governments in the World and International Human Rights

          Organizations,

          Exactly forty years ago, April 30, 1975 marked the end of the bloody civil war between North and South Vietnam, a conclusion marked by innumerable tragedies and widespread destruction, putting an end to a regime which despite its flaws still managed to guarantee to its people freedom and a comfortable living, and inaugurating the era of communist oppression throughout the land of Vietnam.

          Looking back at the record of deeds perpetrated by the Communist Party and Government since that tragic day, we, the undersigned independent civil societies of Vietnam, have come to the conclusion that the last forty years have been nothing but years of totalitarian oppression and repression of people’s conscience.

  1. Forty Years of Totalitarian Oppression

Unlike all other dictatorial regimes in the history of mankind (be it fascism, military dictatorship, zaibatsu dictatorship, or theocratic dictatorship) which only focus on one or two specific aspects of society, Vietnamese communist dictatorial rule, like all other communist regimes, aims at total control of every aspect of society, meaning that it seeks to manage every facet of life whether social or personal, material or spiritual.

          a- Total political control:  The CPV (Communist Party of Vietnam) wants to be the sole ruler of the nation, it does not admit opposition parties.  Which is why after their victory over the South they immediately proceeded to imprison for many years all the military, government cadre and personnel of the old regime together with the members of all non-communist parties; it further proceeded to eliminate all emerging restorationist groups, in fact it even founded fake resistance groups in order to trap patriotic oppositionists.  To legitimize and legalize their monopolistic power, they instituted Article 4 of the 1980 Constitution (and all subsequent Constitutions) which affirms that the CPV is the sole leading force of the state and society.  From 1975 up to now, all individuals or organizations demanding pluralism and multi-partyism are brutally repressed.  The tripartite separation of powers becomes the tripartite distribution of responsibilities under the overall control of the Party.  And in order to avoid the label of political oppression, the CPV calls all “political cases” criminal cases, using articles 79, 88 and 258 of the Penal Code to repress these dissidents.

          As a consequence, every citizen (with the exception of CPV members) has lost his/her political and civil rights, unable to choose the leaders of the nation and excluded from participating in national affairs through standing for election into the National Assembly or people’s councils.  The political atmosphere is stifling, political prisoners abound (at last count there are at least 105 prisoners of conscience still in jail), and all political parties banned.  It is this totalitarian dictatorship which is the basis of all consequent ills.

          b- Total economic control: In 1976 the CPV Politburo issued Resolution 254 to do away with the capitalist and compradore class, proceed with reforming the capitalist and private industries and trade networks, thus destroying a once prosperous economy.  At the same time, the Party sent tens of thousands of urban dwellers to New Economic Zones and in the process stealing their land and homes.  As a result, the country stood on the brink of disaster, so much so that in 1986 the CPV had to come up with the “Doi Moi” (“Renovation”) policy, seeking to restore the economy towards a market economy.  The material life of the people almost at once became more breathable, but the Party members took advantage of the occasion to become “red capitalists.”  The 1992 Constitution, in Articles 17 and 18, and the Land Law of 1993 thus came up with this weirdo concept: “All of the nation’s resources belong to the entire nation under the unified management of the state.”  Private land rights are done away with and the people becomes tenant workers for the state while it is not unusual for Party members to own hundreds of hectares of land and orchard.  The CPV also introduced another weirdo concept known as “a market economy with socialist orientation,” a concept which has not yet found anyone able to define it, with  state-run enterprises as the leading sector (Cf. Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution and Article 51 of the 2013 Constitution).  Many giant corporations and combines have been created and put under the management of Party members and their cronies but they all ended up in the red, mired in corruption and bankruptcy, equivalent to hundreds of thousand, nay millions of billions of VN dong.

          In consequence, after four decades of peace, the per capita income of Vietnamese citizens only comes to 1,028 USD in 2014 (compared to 36,897 USD in the case of Singapore, which was decolonized at the same time as Vietnam).  The competitiveness of Vietnam is deemed last, at the bottom of ASEAN countries.  Hundreds of thousand of private enterprises have gone bankrupt.  The government presently borrows up to one billion dollars every three months to pay the public debt; this means that on average every single person in Vietnam, old and young, is now burdened with a national debt of 1,000 dollars each… Victims of land injustice now count in the millions and live in purgatory, neither alive nor dead.  And millions of workers, too, are exploited to the bare bone!

          c- Total cultural control: Right after their victory in 1975, the Communists confiscated and destroyed all books having to do with literature, the arts and history produced in the Republic of Vietnam; they threw in jail innumerable men of letters and artists.  A good number of dissenting writers who in the past had served the [communist] regime find themselves in trouble.  This is because all branches of literature and the arts are supposed to play up the role of communism, the communist regime and the CPV.

          The totalitarian control of culture in Vietnam is practiced especially rigorously in the field of mass instruction and school education.  The CPV absolutely forbids the existence of private newspapers, they control every kind of news outlets, using them not as information media but rather as propaganda instruments to indoctrinate the masses, guide public opinion, forcing people to talk and think and do in accordance with the Party’s orders.  The CPV also cultivates a class of “parasitic intellectuals” who despite their high degrees are nonetheless used to deception and sophistry in order to defend the Party.  They only have one goal, to make the people believe that the CPV is the god of justice and the source of every truth.  School instruction is politicized.  All principals are Party members, the philosophy underlying education in Vietnam is Marxism-Leninism and the thought of Ho Chi Minh, the students are not taught to become free and responsible citizens; they are taught to become obedient subjects meant to serve the Party and instruments to carry out the Party’s will.

          The totalitarian control of culture is also practiced through religious repression using violent instruments and administrative violence (such as harassment, obstruction, imprisonment, robbery and sabotage) to impede the various churches from bringing to the masses their liberation and humanistic doctrines, in order to push for their monopolistic atheism.

          As a result, Vietnam today does not have any literary or artistic work worthy of its name.  Vietnamese scientific achievements (such as discoveries and initiatives) are rare.  The level of high school and college students, even of experts, is low.  Educational establishments are lacking and in sad shape; school morality has dropped in both teachers and students, and is full of violence and duperie.  Social ethics also has seriously gone down: people are now indifferent, exploitative, grasping, and cheating.  Corruption and bribery, and the buying of offices is considered normal.  Superstition, the selling of saints and gods, and sloppy religious ceremonies are found everywhere.  And the public is lulled into sleep with so-called imaginary records and achievements.

          d- Total social control: Determined not to let any section or class in society be left out, the Communists founded the Vietnam Fatherland Front to include in it every political, economic, and civil society.  At the present time, the Front englobes 44 member organizations, with every one of them under the thumb of the Communist Party as their leaders are always Party members, which is aimed at the ultimate objective of protecting the arbitrary and enduring rule of the CPV.  And in order that the total control of society be assured, the Communists turn every force in the nation into their instruments: the National Assembly, the courts, the government, the police, and state-run churches.  The National Assembly is to turn the Party’s will into the people’s will and it introduces bills to make them into laws in order to make the people conform to the Party’s will.  The government uses administrative measures to force the people to follow the CPV’s policies.  The courts work with the prosecutors and the investigators to make sure that justice is always on the side of the Party.  The public security police is the sword that protects the Party, making sure that no citizen can as much as touch the power of the Party.  And the state-run churches teach the followers to always obey the Party’s orders.

          As the result, the whole society pulls itself into a cocoon under the constant surveillance, monitoring and control of the “eyes and ears” of the Party (i.e. the Fatherland Front) with no one daring to express his/her true opinion or feelings.  Any citizen daring to sue a Party member is sure to lose out.  Pretexting the need to protect the Party, the public security police and militia treat the people in total defiance of the law: they harass, beat up and repress those they deem undesirable.  In the last three years alone, over 260 persons have been found to be dead while in police detention.  This violent treatment at the hands of the police has sown the seeds for a violent society.  The citizens in Vietnam nowadays do not get any protection from the law!

  1. Forty Years of Destruction of Human Conscience

          Ho Chi Minh has once said: “To construct socialism, first of all we need to have socialist persons.”  In actuality, what this means is: “In order for the Communist Party to build up its totalitarian regime, one must have people devoid of human conscience even if they are holders of various functions in society.”  And that is precisely what the CPV has been doing in the last forty years.

          a- Elimination of the conscience of being a people’s representative in the very members of the National Assembly: Not being elected by the people but being nominated instead by the Party, the members of the National Assembly always show a “high level of agreement” with the Party’s wishes.  From the Pham Van Dong diplomatic note [to Zhou Enlai] in 1958 to the two agreements with China regarding the demarcation of border territory and territorial waters (1999 and 2000), to the exploitation of bauxite (2007) [in the Central Highlands of Vietnam], and the discussions about the new Constitution of 2013, the National Assembly has yet to listen to the people in order to find out what they want, to cross-examine, present counter-arguments or control and monitor the powers that be; in every instance, they let the Politburo and the Central Committee do as they like, even if these decisions turn out to be harmful to the people or dangerous to the country.

          b- Elimination of the conscience of public service in the case of government officials:  Put where they are by the central or local Party chapter and not being publicly elected officials, they always act as if they are little gods or chieftains, they are arrogant toward people and care more about accumulating wealth rather than serving the people.  Evidence can be seen in the magnificent homes they built, in their extorsion of the poor, in their indifference to the plight of land petitioners, in their assault on and robbery of various churches, and in their renting out to Chinese some of the strategic locations in the country so that they could turn into commercial ports, tourist resorts and urban concentrations.

          c- Elimination of the conscience of respect for and protection of the people in the public security police force: Seeing themselves as the protective force of the Party and swearing absolute loyalty to the Party, the public security forces have become instruments of repression against victims of land injustice and religious innocents who only ask for justice, they have become “punching machines” in the so-called dialogue with democracy activists who raise their voice in favor of freedom and henchmen to the prosecution and presiding judges in political court cases; and a terror to anyone who is forced to go to a police station for “violations” big or small: they would be beaten up mercilessly and tortured to death then ruled to be “suicides.”

          d- Elimination of the conscience of protecting the Fatherland in the troops: Now enjoined to be “loyal to the Party” instead of to be “loyal to the country and filial towards the people,” the armed forces who are now free to do business have become instruments in the hands of the Party, with their leaders only concerned with making money (the generals are put in charge of numberless big and small companies), they neglect the duty to protect the Fatherland and their compatriots, leaving the Vietnamese fishermen to the mercy of the Chinese who harass them, rob them, murder them.  The army now sometimes even participates in the repression of the people.  Even though they may have fought valiantly in the border war of 1979 with China or died in the Spratly battle of 1988, the armed forces are now generally in the control of Chinese henchmen within the Politburo or in the Ministry of National Defense.

          e- Elimination of the conscience of upholding justice among the attorneys, the prosecutors and those sitting in judgement: The investigative police often resorts to cheating or torture to extract confessions, the prosecution (i.e. the People’s Procuracy) is in cahoot with the investigative police, which is why the attorneys sometimes could only seek leniency in court for their clients and the presiding judges have “sentences pocketed ahead of time” and decided by someone higher up.  It’s normal that the investigative police, the prosecution and the presiding judge end up being corrupt and taking bribes.  Many sentences, including even death sentences, are pronounced quickly but it takes time to remedy them.  In summary, the court system operates either get money or on behalf of the Party.

          f- Elimination of the conscience of doctors in the face of patients’ suffering: Ignoring emergency cases in which the family fails to pay, then examining the patients only perfunctorily, asking for bribes before giving good care, giving out outdated medicine or fake ones, using one patient’s test results and applying them to hundreds of others, taking up such excessive commissions and thus boosting the price of medicine beyond measure, giving priority care to Party members and cadres and disregarding those having only their health insurance cards.  It’s not uncommon that medical personnel get beaten up by the patients’ family members because of their irresponsibility!

          g- Elimination of the conscience of standing witness to the truth and justice among the priesthood: Reasoning that they do not want to be involved in politics, innumerable clergy people only care about building their churches more beautiful, more magnificent, about having splendid festivals; they go abroad to raise bundles of money and remain indifferent in the face of compatriots being repressed, of society losing all bearings, and of the Fatherland in great danger…  Sometimes, these religious leaders only raise their voices in favor of common measures of social ethics (which is safer) but dare not interfere in real, concrete situations instead of intervening in concrete situations (where one can face real danger).

          h- Elimination of the conscience of being good teachers to make the country better in the case of school teachers:  Numberless teachers who do not have the required character and/or knowledge (who are in fact in the wrong class), numberless others act violently towards their students, or trade sex for good grades, force their girl students into prostitution, let the police beat up the students, and sometimes even forbid their students from participating in patriotic demonstrations against Chinese aggression.  Then there was the plague of teaching private lessons to make money and giving out unjustified good grades to make a record.  What this does is the horrible consequence: after a while, the students lose all their innocence, love of truth and kindness.

          Conclusion: In looking back at the last forty years, everybody can see that at no time in our nation’s history do we have a “government” and a “political party” that acts like such a foreign body, as they know only how to control and overwhelm all aspects of social and personal life in such a subtle and closely monitored way through violent and deceitful means in order to consolidate their power and amass all the privileges.  Power and privileges for themselves, for their relatives, for their group, thus turning the people into the exploited ones living a nightmare and having their lives considered no weightier than the lives of animals.  Because of their failure in every field and their subservience to China, this government and political party is in the process of selling out the country, letting it be integrated into Greater China as one province.  At no time in the history of our nation is there a people and a society considered like children for the leaders to teach, like domestic servants that they are free to trade and exchange, like putties that they are free to cause immense trouble in life in every aspect, economical, safety wise, environmental, worse, they can cause depravity in manners when it comes to one’s self-awareness, will and conscience.

          No, no, the sacred spirit of the land, our national spirit, and the indomitable will of our race are rising in the heart of millions of Vietnamese yearning for freedom, who are illuminated by the conscience of their responsibility towards the Fatherland, who nurture the will and determination to act millions like one man so as to find every way—with the support of our compatriots abroad—to get rid of the communist ideology which has been poisoning our mind, to dissolve this evil regime and its political party which have pushed our nation to the wall, so as to rebuild a country filled with truth, justice, love and freedom.  Forty years under this totalitarian regime is more than enough!!!

          Written in Vietnam on 25 April 2015

          Civil Societies who have agreed to sign this Statement:

1- U.S.-Vietnam Lutheran Friends Church, represented by Pastor Nguyễn Hoàng Hoa.

2- Original Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, represented by Venerable Lê Quang Liêm.

3- Hoa Hao Buddhist Chuch of Cần Thơ City, represented by Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Lan.

4- Political and Religious Prisoners Friendship Association, represented by Mr. Nguyễn Bắc Truyển.

5-  The Brotherhood for Democracy, represented by Pastor Nguyễn Trung Tôn.

6- Association for Religious Freedom, represented by Ms. Hà Thị Vân.

7- Bầu Bí Mutual Association, represented by Mr. Nguyễn Lê Hùng.

8- Former Prisoners of Conscience Association, represented by Dr. Nguyễn Đan Quế and Reverend Father Phan Văn Lợi.

9- Association of Women for Human Rights, represented by Mesdames Trần Thị Hài, Trần Thị Nga and Huỳnh Thục Vy.

10- The Stable Evangelical Church, represented by Pastor Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng.

11- Cao Đài Church Nhơn Sanh Bloc, represented by Messrs. Hứa Phi, Nguyễn Kim Lân, and Nguyễn Bạch Phụng.

12- Bloc 8406, represented by the writer Nguyễn Xuân Nghĩa.

13- The Religious and Ethnic Protection Group, represented by Mr. Huỳnh Trọng Hiếu.

14- The Nguyễn Kim Điền Fathers Group, represented by Reverend Father Nguyễn Hữu Giải.

15- The Justice and Peace Bureau of the Redemptorist Church in Sài Gòn, represented by Reverend Father Đinh Hữu Thoại.

16- The Struggle Movement of Victims of Land Injustice, represented by Mrs. Trần Ngọc Anh.

17- The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam Sangha, represented by the Most Venerable Thích Không Tánh.

          NCVA Translation – 5/8/2015