Open Letter to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council and its Mechanism Concerning Vietnam’s Human Rights Abuses and The People’s Human Rights Campaign for 2015
10 March 2015
To Excellencies and Ambassadors to the United Nations,
We, the undersigned, citizens of Vietnam and those of Vietnamese origin living abroad, would like to reiterate what the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression, Religious Freedom and Arbitrary Detention have stated in their recent reports. Since Vietnam became a member state of the Human Rights Council, human rights abuses committed by the State continue despite the recommendations of the Council and the UN human rights mechanism.
Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Cuong is leading a Vietnamese delegation to participate in the UN Human Rights Council’s 28th session, which takes place from March 2 to 27. We therefore call upon member and observer States to question the government of Vietnam on its failure to uphold its responsibilities and obligations pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also respectfully ask the Council to specifically monitor efforts and progress by Vietnam in addressing and complying with the recommendations of the Special Rapporteurs. If there are no measureable improvements when Vietnam’s 2014-2016 tenure in the Human Rights Council is up for re-election, we earnestly urge member states to vote against Vietnam based on its continuing rampant violations of the human rights of its own people. It is time for the Vietnamese government to learn that it can no longer escape accountability and immunity, and it must bear consequences for its actions.
In the following weeks, while leaders of the UN and the UN Human Rights Council will hold high-level segment meetings, dialogues and working sessions on the protection and promotion of human rights around the globe at the UN 28th Session, we plan to take the following actions to urge the Vietnamese government to conduct itself with honesty, accountability, transparency and with integrity, and to uphold its responsibilities and obligations pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
1) After receiving substantial signatures of support for our open letter to the UN Human Rights Council, ambassadors to the UN, and embassies in Vietnam, we, Vietnamese people inside and outside the country, will simultaneously hold hunger strikes, candlelight vigils in large cities to appeal to the Vietnamese government to:
a. Unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience; including, to name a few: Ms. Ta Phong Tan, Mr. Việt Khang aka Vo Minh Tri, Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Mr. Tran Vu Anh Binh, Mr Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, Mr Doan Huy Chuong, Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, Mr. Nguyen Van Minh, Mr. Nguyen Van Lia, Ms.Nguyen Minh Thuy, Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh, Mr. Nguyen Dinh Ngoc...
b. Lift all orders of house arrest, surveillance, harassment, and other administrative restraints such as prohibition to medical treatment, freedom of mobility, housing and the right to employment etc., against former prisoners of conscience such as human rights attorney Le Cong Dinh, Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Uyen, Mr. Pham Van Troi, Mr. Nguyen Tien Trung, Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc...
c. Abolish Articles 79, 88, and 258 of the Penal Code which violate both Vietnam’s Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2) Delegations will be formed in various cities to meet with ambassadors of freedom-loving countries, UN officials, local government officials, and staff of international human rights organizations to urge them to support our cause by putting human rights protection at the forefront and as preconditions in all trade agreements and diplomatic relations with the Vietnamese government.
3) The above actions will be carried out throughout the year of 2015 with a Rally for Vietnam’s Human Rights taking place on December 10, 2015, International Human Rights Day. On this day, Vietnamese in both Vietnam and abroad will show solidarity in white shirts and will take to the streets peacefully advocating for Freedom, Democracy, Independence and Human Rights for Vietnam.
We, who live in Vietnam, suffer substantial deterioration in our human, civil and constitutional rights. We therefore anticipate that by peacefully implementing the above three actions, we will face detention, interrogation, imprisonment, harassment, torture, cruel beatings and various forms of retaliation by the State to silence us. Thus, we are writing in advance to inform the Human Rights Council and all ambassadors to the UN, embassies in Vietnam and international human rights organizations that:
i) Should we be subjected to any abuse, attacks, crackdowns, imprisonment, forced disappearances etc. at the hands of the State, merely because we exercise our rights to free expression and peaceful assembly, we earnestly ask that you take this as another live testament of the Vietnamese government’s continuing abuse of its citizens’ human rights. This is unbecoming of a member state of the UN Human Rights Council and of a co-coordinator of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the inter-governmental body. And that when it is time for the UN Human Rights Council’s membership election, that Vietnam receives a loud and clear message from your votes that it must bear responsibility for its blatant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We also respectfully ask that during our imprisonment, if UN Special Rapporteurs and embassies’ staff in Vietnam could request to visit us and other existing prisoners of conscience, human rights activists in prisons, and to advocate for our freedom.
ii) If it is because of our open letter forewarning the free world and the United Nations Human Rights Council of our human rights campaign for 2015 that the Vietnamese government refrains from cracking down on our peaceful assembly and hunger strikes, please kindly view the State’s inaction as a strong confirmation of the important and effective role of the international human rights organizations, and the UN Human Rights mechanism in protecting human rights in dictatorial regimes. Crimes persist only in the dark. Once you expose the State’s abuse of human rights and with the free world watching, you can help save our lives and restore our rights.
We trust that universal human rights will prevail in every corner of the world, including our homeland, Vietnam, in 2015.
List of signatures