Why there is no democracy and human rights in Vietnam?

Dang Xuong Hung

Mr. Dang Xuong Hung’s speech

at the 6th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

Distinguished Guests and Members of UN Watch,

My name is Dang Xuong Hung. I am the ex consulate of Vietnam in Geneva (2008-2012), the ex Deputy Director in the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Vietnam who has denounced the Vietnamese Communist Party and its government from 18th October 2013. My thanks to UN Watch for having given me the opportunity to speak out against an undemocratic regime and its violations of human rights by which my decision to break away from the Communist Party is based upon.

I will present my personal concern from an insider’s perspective about the true current human rights situation in Vietnam. I wish to share with you my observations and evidence which have given rise to questions I have asked myself for so long:

- WHY THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN VIETNAM?

- WHAT TO DO TO BRING DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS TO VIETNAM?

A democratic regime requires two building factors: democratic institutions and democratic culture. A democratic regime can only take shape when a leader believing in democracy takes the lead. Vietnam has none of these conditions. This is to say the current leadership in Vietnam has virtually no idea of what a democracy is about therefore they set up a regime which is UNDEMOCRATIC and disregarding human rights in Vietnam.

I joined the communist party in 1986. The party by that time was making efforts to reform. When the Berlin Wall fell, a couple of leaders, known to be nurturing democratic thoughts, had come to prominence such as Tran Xuan Bach, Nguyen Co Thach, Tran Quang Co. But they were quickly removed from the leadership machine. Those fledgling democratic ideas were crushed.

After the collapse of the socialist system, the Vietnamese communist party continues blindly to pursue the ideologies of Marxism and Leninism, refuses to accept democratic thought and human rights which have become universal values therefore they have brought the country and its people to a total crisis at present time. I can now address the question: “Why there is no human rights in Vietnam?” It is because this Communist Party is the root of all failures in the country. Facing increasingly deteriorated situations in Vietnam I can no longer keep silent but I must show publicly my course of action: a resolute break away from the communist party. Right now I want to speak loud and clear to the world that:

- My country is at risk!

- My people is suffering under the communist regime!

- Focus attention on the situation of democracy and human rights in Vietnam!

In regards to the reality in Vietnam, I put forward my observations and conclusions as follow:

The current regime is a one-party dictatorship run by the sole ruling communist party which only serves itself. Article 4 in the Constitution – amended and came to effect from 1 Jan 2014 – states that the Communist party is the Party in power and is the unique political party allowed to operate in Vietnam. Marxist Leninist ideology defines the law as merely an instrument of oppression for the rulers.

The government mechanism system was set up to serve its fundamental objective that is to safeguard the power of the ruling of party and disregard its obligation to its citizens’ aspirations. Therefore the Vietnamese government has shown little respect for its citizen’s rights. The current leaders of the communist party have become red capitalists.

The security and police force is being building up to be increasingly formidable. According to some estimate, at the end of 2013 the ratio is one police for every 18 citizens. Instead of focusing on its primary duty that is to promote the security and public order, a big part of this force is mobilised to monitor, persecute and harass its citizens. In socialist regimes, the security police is an instrument to safeguard the government life therefore they are keeping an aggressive force. I am very much in tune with a recommendation from a nation to Vietnam in the recent Universal Periodic Reviews that Vietnam needs to educate the police force about human rights.

The armed force has been dictated in the Constitution to be loyal to the Communist Party first then to the Government and the People last.

The legislative, Executive and Judiciary Agencies (National Assembly, Government, Courts) are all machineries used to serve the one-party dictatorship objectives. I had said that the National Assembly is merely a political cell of the Communist Party. Recently, unfazed by consistent and legitimate demands from intellects and common people, this National Assembly defiantly passed all amendments to the Constitution with a majority of 98%. Representatives cannot do otherwise because they are Communist Party members.

Basic human rights are not respected

No free election: Every five years, in principle, people go to the polls to elect their representatives in the National Assembly and People Councils. In practice, they can only elect candidates pre-selected by the Party. No one has the right to self-nominate for election. Recently, Mr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, a noted lawyer in Vietnam, had campaigned hard to be able to self-nominate for election but he was disqualified promptly and is languishing in prison now. Election in Vietnam, therefore, is merely window-dressing. I personally had acted as proxy for all my family members. Another case in point, to gain advantage in a contest for achievements, an enthusiastic head of a household group, had acted as proxy for absentees. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression is under most serious threat.

The government is exercising brutal oppressive policies on dissidents. In addition to long jail sentences, it wages a war of violence against them, including backing up unidentified thugs to carry out assaults, and acts of persecution and harassment on dissidents.

In reference to studies from many human rights watch organisations and by our own investigation, there are approximately 250 prisoners of conscience incarcerated in jail at present time. The real number is much higher because many are still unaccounted for and many are imprisoned by trumped-up charges used to conceal political motives.

The government routinely cites articles 79, 87, 88, 258 in the penal Code as grounds for their arbitrary arrests of pro-democracy activists. Recently, it has changed its tune by arresting dissidents on incongruous grounds. Mr. Cu Huy Ha Vu was imprisoned for having illegal sexual affairs (citing used condoms for evidences) and Mr. Le Quoc Quan, another noted lawyer, for tax evasion. The government even imprisons young adults just 20 years of age namely Phuong Uyen, Dinh Nguyen Kha for having engaged in patriotic activities against China.

Many prisoners of conscience with a terminal illness in final stages are languishing in prison. Three particular cases of concerns:

- Mr. Vi Duc Hoi, being sentenced on absolutely dubious grounds, was disciplined with six months in solitary confinement for staging protest against a warden who brutally beat his fellow prisoner of conscience, Mr. Paulus Le Son. After six months of retribution, the discipline was extended. Mr. Hoi is languishing now in solitary confinement while his heart and blood pressure conditions need intensive care.

- Mr. Dinh Dang Dinh, after being imprisoned for some time, was found to have a cancer. The diagnosis is particularly worse, the cancer is in final stage. The treating doctors have indicated that had he had received early medical intervention, the cancer could be treated. Mr. Dinh’s health is now in critical stage and cannot eat or drink. Up until recently, Mr. Dinh receives news that “his serving term is delayed” and that he can be temporary released to his family for treatment of the cancer in final phase.

- Reverend Nguyen Van Ly who was gagged before a court was sentenced to eight years in prison. He suffers a stroke and has partial paralysis condition but remanded held in prison. In regards to the freedom of the Press: In reference to Reporters Without Borders’s classification in 2013, out of 180 countries over the world, Vietnam ranks 174, just above China (175), North Korea (179), Somalia (176) and Syria (177).

The Government is intensifying repression, censoring information, controlling the press and internet infiltration with regulations and fire walls or use of hackers. There are reports of many arbitrary arrests, unjustified sentences. This clearly shows the regime is in great fear of the truth.

Vietnam remains the second worse prison in the world for bloggers and internet citizens. At present, 34 bloggers are languishing in prison. In September 2013, the Vietnamese Communist Party has made ‘a great leap forward’ in respect to suppression the freedom of information by issuing decrees 72, 174 banning bloggers, Internet social networks websites to collate and to share news and information.

No mechanism or organisations to protect citizens

The situation of the dispossessed citizens is a tragedy. Due to the lack of a mechanism to protect them, dispossessed citizens have to fend for themselves, to organise their own protests and appeals, their cry for justice has fallen on government officials’ deaf ears. The land-grabbing exercises from interest groups - a direct product of a coalition of money and power – have dispossessed the farmers unjustly and thus given rise to an increasingly angry mass. When the movement of reclaiming the land grabbed reaches a boiling point the Government has reacted with sheer brutality such as the case of Doan Van Vuon in Hai Phong and the revolt of Van Giang farmers in Hung Yen.

Corruption is booming: Vietnam is one of the most corrupted countries in the world. Many scandalous corruptions connected to top officials of the Government have been exposed. The trial of Duong Chi Dung of Vinalines has uncovered the involvement of a Minister (Tran Dai Quang) and Deputy Minister (Pham Quy Ngo) as well as higher ranking parties.

These failed policies implemented by the leadership in Vietnam have brought the country to an absolute crisis impacting all fronts of the nation from politics to economy, from culture to education, health and even to its ethos. Good is gradually losing ground to evil in Vietnamese society. Government officials accumulate wealth at the expense of the poor. The country is weakening, the society is decaying, andhappiness is unattainable.

In regards to human rights violations in Vietnam please let me quote a comment from Mr. Benjamin Ismail, the head of the Asia-Pacific Desk at Reporters Across Borders, in a recent interview: “Hanoi can no longer lie to the United Nations and the world. They know more than anyone else what they are doing and what of those brutally repressive policies they are implementing are about…”

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Observations and concerns presented to you just now do not come from a lonely individual but certainly are from many of the Vietnamese people, including a number of communist party members in the leadership hierarchy in Vietnam. Due their contentious positions and circumstances, they cannot speak out their minds. Nonetheless, hope is stronger than fear. The Vietnamese long for a civilised and healthy political regime in which human rights and citizens’ rights are respected and protected so Vietnam can integrate into the community of civilised nations. Right now I have only one burning desire: the current government of Vietnam gives thoughts to the future of the nation. Vietnam can do the same like Myanmar: together we build a democratic and pluralistic political system and implement the process of national reconciliation and concord.

Needless to say in order to fulfill this aspiration, alongside persistent endeavours of a people movement for democracy and human rights, the support and sponsorship of the international community are much needed.

Events such as the recent United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam and international conferences like today certainly positively impact on Vietnam. According to latest information that I have received, there are signs that the Vietnamese government is starting to realise that gone is the era of arbitrary suppression and persecution of citizens for the expression of their political views.

My sincere thanks to members of UN Human rights Watch and distinguished Guests for giving me time and attention.


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