Vietnamese activists to attend UN human rights reporting session on Vietnam

(VNRN) – Four civil society activists from Vietnam have arrived in Geneva to speak at the UPR session where final input will be provided and the UN Human Rights Council will complete its report on Vietnam, scheduled to take place June 20, local time.

The four activists represent 10 civil society organizations in Vietnam active in human rights advocacy. They are Dr. Nguyen Quang A (Nguyễn Quang A), an economist and activist; Pham Le Vuong Cac (Phạm Lê Vương Các), a blogger and independent journalist; and human rights lawyers Nguyen Thi Vy Hanh (Nguyễn Thị Vy Hạnh) and Trinh Huu Long.

The purpose of this plenary meeting of the UN Human Rights Council is to adopt a report for Vietnam, a follow-up of the meeting in February, in which other countries made recommendations and and NGOs provided comments for improving human rights.

A total of 227 recommendations were made by 106 countries to Vietnam. At this second meeting, Vietnam will state which recommendations it accepts and which it rejects. Other countries will have the opportunity to comment as will NGO and other stakeholders. A final “outcome report” will then be adopted.

Dr. Quang A noted, “For the first cycle in 2009, the Vietnamese government only agreed to 96 out of 123 recommendations, and those were the vague general recommendations that were difficult to evaluate. They rejected all recommendations for the release of political prisoners, private ownership of the press, or reform of the legal system.”

“It shows a very low level of commitment,” Dr. Quang A said.

Cac, on the other hand, viewed this UPR session in the context of the deteriorating relationship between China and Vietnam, and thought that Vietnam’s conduct at this session “will show how the threat from China affects the process of democratization and respect for human rights in Vietnam.”

“By following the recommendations that Vietnam approves or rejects, we can measure the effect of the crisis in the East Sea (South China Sea),” Cac stated.

The delegation, in addition to Geneva, will travel to Belgium, Poland, and the Czech Republic to meet with UN agencies, the EU diplomatic corps, and other governments and NGOs.

Both Hanh and Long give high importance to international lobbying efforts. Hanh, based in the U.S., considered it “something the Vietnamese community abroad can do very well to assist civil society organizations and the people in Vietnam in their struggle for human rights.”

Long, who was a delegate at the UPR working group session in February, said, “Whatever the reaction by the Vietnamese government at this UPR session, we will continue to call on the international community and the community of Vietnamese people in and outside of Vietnam to work more and take more concrete steps to improve human rights in Vietnam.”

“It will be a long process,” Long said, “and one-time commitment by the Vietnamese government, if any, will never be enough.”

The independent civil society organizations represented by the four activists are Civil Society Forum, the United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam, the Association of Political & Religious Prisoners of Vietnam, the Brotherhood for Democracy, Bau Bi Tuong Than Association, No-UC FC of Hanoi, No-U FC of Saigon, the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church West branch, the Vietnam Path Movement, and VOICE.

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