With a vote of 31 in favour, 9 against and 7 abstentions the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests (HCR 25/L.20). Peaceful protest is one of the forms showing a democratic society in the combination of the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.
The resolution is a concrete step of the international community to call upon states to create necessary measures to secure protestors. The resolution calls for:
• Avoid the use of force during peaceful protests, and to ensure that, where force is absolutely necessary, no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate force, and that any death or significant injury is investigated;
• Pay particular attention to the safety of journalists and media workers covering peaceful protests, taking into account their specific role, exposure and vulnerability;
• Recognise the important role played by Internet users and human rights defenders in documenting human rights violations or abuses committed in the context of peaceful protest.
The FVPoC reaffirms that the peaceful protests can occur in all societies and that participation in peaceful protests can be an important form of exercising the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of speech, of association and of participation in the conduct of public affairs. This is appropriate with International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Vietnam is a party in 1982.
The FVPoC deeply concerns on the recently violent acts of the authorities including beating, sabotage, suppression to anti-China protesters over disputable islands, meetings of human rights defenders, especially land petitioners in Hanoi, Hochiminh city and other provinces – Ninh Thuan, Nghe An, Ha Tinh.
The FVPoC calls on the Vietnam authorities to recognize the rights to freedom that everyone must be able to express their grievances or aspirations in a peaceful manner, through public protests, without fear of reprisals, or of being intimidated, harassed, arrested and jailed.
As a reactionary move, Vietnamese representatives to Geneva, along with “likeminded” group – China, Cuba, Russian Federation and Venezuela voted against the resolution. After the vote, Vietnam representative reiterated that activities of human rights defenders had to be conducted within the framework of national security law. Vietnam also regretted that the resolution was neither objective nor balanced and did not promote dialogues between parties.
In the gradual approach to deal with protests by conciliation and dialogue, the FVPoC call upon the Vietnam authorities to promote a safe and enable environment for individuals and groups to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly in public places, to protect journalists, media workers covering the protests. And finally the authorities would apply dialogues as a mean of the peaceful solution. All methods lie within the authorities if they implement the request of UNHRC to respect human rights.
The FVPoC hails strongly the UNHRC resolution and we are willing to cooperate with Special Raporteur on the matter of arbitrary execution of the Vietnam authorities.
Dated: April 2, 2014
The Steering Committee.
Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience