Léman Bleu television broadcast presented by Pascal Décaillet on October 20, 2010
With Rolin Wavre and Luy Nguyen Tang.
Rolin Wavre: I am back from eight days in Vietnam, where I was able to meet with the families of some prisoners. I tried myself to visit a prisoner, but unfortunately it was not possible. I met with some representatives of the banned opposition party, clandestinely. I also participated in a demonstration, a kind of happening, a flashmob on a square. It was quite impressive to see a hundred young people digging-out T-shirts and banners, and simply calling for freedom of expression. For us, it started there, and it continues in Geneva.
Pascal Décaillet: Why did you make this trip? Is it your sympathy for the opponents? Thierry Oppikofer is very active. Well, he is in the same party as you are, the Radicals. Is this a coincidence?
Rolin Wavre: Yes it is a coincidence. It is a relationship. Life is full of relationships. I met the Vietnamese community in Western Switzerland. I found them very friendly and active. I also found that the situation in Vietnam is rather alarming. I myself spent 17 years with the ICRC, so I developed a certain sensitivity to this kind of problems.
Pascal Décaillet: We are not going to tell the history again. Until 54, there was the French presence, the war in Indochina, Mendes France, the agreements and then a second war, the one we remember from our childhood, the war with the Americans. It ended in the late seventies, with the Americans leaving, the people trying to go on the helicopters, etc.. And this new regime. This regime is very tough towards its opponents. Please give us some examples Mr. Nguyen Tang.
Luy Nguyen Tang: Well, yes, the regime is very hard with its opponents. Comparatively, I would say that people tend to think of China each time we talk about dissent and human rights in these Asian countries. Vietnam is a country which has widely developed from the tourism and economy point of view, but unfortunately, when speaking of human rights and freedom of expression, Vietnam remains in the 1950s.
Pascal Décaillet: Now, yourself, how did you feel? You, as a Western European, you may be less worried, but the Vietnamese who demonstrate… Well, are they allowed to and what are the risks? Mr. Wavre?
Rolin Wavre: Yes they can. Fortunately this is one of their last remaining freedoms: but they risk being arrested. You should know that it is extremely dangerous for them to claim the right to speak. To call for a multiparty system and to denounce corruption is extremely dangerous. Many Vietnamese are detained. As an example, a dual national, a Vietnamese and Australian citizen, was arrested on Sunday. At the same time that I was leaving the country, she was arrested and detained. We learned today that she has been released, proving that the authorities may be more sensitive to international opinion and to all the fuss we make regarding how they respect human rights.
Pascal Décaillet: We had another example about one or two years ago. We talked about this during the Genève à Chaud show, the case of a journalist. We will not say that her release was due to us because another and much larger movement was in place. But it turned out she was released a few days after the show. Is that correct Mr. Nguyen Tang?
Luy Nguyen Tang: Yes indeed. Our job at the Swiss Vietnam Committee has been for many years to mobilize public opinion so that when a problem of arbitrary detention of this kind happens, public opinion may play a role with the authorities. And I think more and more – and the action of Rollin Wavre goes in this direction and is very crucial – I think more and more that the Hanoi regime is sensitive to anything that could happen.
Pascal Décaillet: What is interesting is that we now have the internet. Because 20 years ago, if they wanted to cut off information they could cut it off. When you were at the ICRC for example. But nowadays, it is very difficult to stop the access to the Internet, mainly thanks to the satellites.
Rolin Wavre: Two things: some of the Vietnamese activists that are currently detained were arrested for writing blogs. So, working on the internet is dangerous. But on the other hand, the information, including the award, the designation of the Nobel Peace Prize, we learned about this through the internet. And some of our contacts in Vietnam learned about it over the internet too. And it was also through the internet that I was able to get the video films out of Vietnam that we are able to watch now.
Pascal Décaillet: Last question. You are a bit of a gentleman of the ICRC and humanitarian, lost in politics, in this cruel world. You are so polite, so gentle, so nice, so different from the rough ones Mr. Wavre.
Rolin Wavre: I am not sure at all that, for the citizen and for the people, one needs to be a bully to make politics. We can say things strongly. We can try to consider different points of view without being a bully, which does not prevent us from speaking firmly with certain people in your show.
Pascal Décaillet: Anyway thank you very much Rollin Wavre. Thank you for the pictures we saw from Vietnam. Mr. Nguyen Tang, thank you. You are welcome on this show and the COSUNAM also. Of course, for all the parties in conflict, if a representative of the Vietnamese government would like to come, it will be mostly welcomed. I shall even offer him tea after the show. It is very rare to receive people drinking tea. Thank you very much Mr. Rolin Wavre and Mr. Nguyen.