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Reflection on the statement of Vietnam at the 22nd meeting of UNHRC

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Last year, Vietnam was elected to be a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the term of 2014-2016. On February 25, 2013, Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, delivered a statement that was very impressive to the listeners who do not know about the human rights violations in Vietnam.

Mr. Pham Binh Minh said that "Viet Nam was a party to most human rights international treaties". It is true that Vietnam signed most of the human rights international treaties, even more than the United States, but Vietnamese government does not even allow the people in Vietnam to enjoy the fundamental freedom, such as: Freedom of Press or Freedom of Association.

Vietnam has more than 700 media organizations (newspaper, Television, Radio…), but those media organizations are established by the government. None of them is the private own media. The freedom that Vietnam allows for its people is to listen to what the government tells them to do. Even the freedom of press that the People in Vietnam do not have, then what kind of freedom does the government of Vietnam try to promote? The world has heard about how Vietnam has imprisoned the Bloggers in Vietnam because they just spoke up to demand for the basic freedom for people in Vietnam.

As the old song that the Vietnamese representatives always sing at the United Nations meetings, "Viet Nam was still a developing country striving to build a State ruled by law." Is Vietnam now not ruled by Law? Recently, Vietnam uses another trick to show to the world that Vietnamese government invites the people in Vietnam to provide suggestions to change its constitution. The deadline of receiving the suggestion is the end of March 2013. When the intellectual people in Vietnam provided a suggestion to change the constitution to reflect the desire of the people to live in a democracy society and have a right to vote for party they want, not just the Vietnamese Communist Party, then the leaders of Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, Chairman of the Communist Party, Mr. Nguyen Sinh Hung, President of the Congress, accused those suggestions as the intention to overthrow the Vietnamese Communist Party. Living in the communist regime, with that accusation from the Communist leaders, hopefully, those intellectual people are not arrested soon. One Vietnamese reporter, Mr. Nguyen Dac Kien, was fired from his workplace because of making comments regarding to the accusation of Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong. Now, the Vietnamese government announced that the suggestions to change the constitution must be ended by March 7. This shows that the Vietnamese government has no intention to rule the country by Law. The Law that the Vietnamese government has is to protect its own party and the benefits of its party members. Thus, if there is a change in the constitution in Vietnam this time, it will not reflect what the people in Vietnam want.

It is ironic to hear that Vietnam "implemented the agreed recommendations received during the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. Bilateral dialogues regarding human rights had also been extended with many countries." During the UPR reviewed in 2009, Vietnam rejected 46 recommendations, mostly from the United States, Canada, France, Australia, etc… As of today, Vietnam does not even allow the people in Vietnam to freely practice their religion by organizing its own religious organization without interference by the government. The UPR committee will review Vietnam again in January, 2014. It will be interesting to see how Vietnam would response to the countries that have provided millions of dollars for Vietnam to improve the standing living and human rights for the people in Vietnam. Vietnam is very good at using excuses about the country is just getting out of war even it is more than 37 years already. The Vietnamese leaders are now living in fancy houses and sending their children to study abroad whereas the normal Vietnamese people, especially the Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples in Vietnam, are losing their farmlands, living in poverty and fear. The Khmer-Krom youths dropped out of school leaving their villages to look for work in the big cities.

If Vietnam honestly wants to promote and protect human rights for the people around the world, Vietnam must start in its own country first. Even Vietnam always violates its own constitution, but at least this time, the Vietnamese government must listen to the suggestion of the people in Vietnam to have a Constitution that all the people in Vietnam, especially the Indigenous Peoples, have the fundamental freedom to living in Peace, not in FEAR as they are facing now.

Reference Sources:
Statement of Vietnam Foreign Affairs: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13043&L...

Vietnam UPR Review: http://www.upr-info.org/-Viet-Nam-.html

Vietnam Charter Reform: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/petition-01232013184513.html

Vietnamese Reporter Fired: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/fired-02262013175113.html