I am Phuong Nam Do Nam Hai speaking from Saigon, Vietnam.
I am honored to have been invited by the US National Security Council to participate in this discussion about democracy and human rights in Vietnam. I would like to sincerely extend my appreciation.
If I were to be asked at this moment: today, in Vietnam, is there democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the media, political freedom to form parties? My conclusive answer would be a resounding and conclusive “No, not yet.” And that is the motivation behind so many people, both living in Vietnam and those living overseas standing up to reclaim this, our basic human freedom.
The people of Vietnam have refused to simply give in however. Countless brave men and women have stood up calling for democracy despite the strength and violence of the proletariat machine leading the nation over the last half century. They have laid a strong foundation for the democratic movement in Vietnam to flourish and spread wide as it did in the last year. Beginning with the release of the Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy for Viet Nam 2006, with the unprecedented collaboration and support of 118 Vietnamese living in Vietnam. Over only a short period of time, this number quickly grew to thousands, then tens of thousands of Vietnamese people both living in and outside of Vietnam. The original group was then dubbed Bloc 8406, and now has the strong international support of many political organizations, public interest organizations, human rights organization etc…
After that historical progression, there came the appearance of many newsletters and newspapers such as Freedom of Speech (Tu Do Ngon Luan), Hoa Mai, Canh Tan, To Quoc, and political parties such as the 21st Century Democracy Party, the Progression Party and also the United Workers-Farmers Organization and the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights for Vietnam.
These occurrences mark a giant milestone on the road to the struggle to reclaim freedom, democracy and human rights for our Vietnam. The movement has gone from the spontaneous to organized, from single individuals to organizations, from small to large, from weak to mighty. Scared and afraid of the sudden strength of the democracy movement, the Vietnamese Communist Party, after hosting the APEC Summit, getting PNTR, and removal from the list of CPC, and acceptance into the WTO, released an extreme nationwide campaign to oppress and quiet the voices of the democracy activists in Vietnam in the end of 2006, beginning of 2007.
Many have been arrested and brought to trial under false pretenses. However, this campaign to scare and oppress has been a complete failure. The democracy movement on having survived that difficult period, not only were not stopped in their tracks but matured and grew in strength. While one person is oppressed, many others have stood up. The violence of the state couldn’t suppress the voices, couldn’t smother the will of the people to now stand up and reclaim freedom and democracy for Vietnam manifested by Bloc 8406, by the Freedom of Speech newspaper, the political parties and the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights for Vietnam: they continue to develop, and day by day gain and garner support of the Vietnamese people both in and outside Vietnam and that of international friends.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We, in our fight to regain true freedom and democracy for our country from the conservative forces within the Vietnamese Communist Party, know that the real force in this struggle is the Vietnamese people! However, we are grateful to all the governments, human rights organizations, and all the peoples of developed countries in the world, who have been and are supporting enthusiastically and effectively the just cause of the Vietnamese people. Therefore, we seek your support to:
1/ Request the Vietnamese Communist Government to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners currently detained.
2/ Request the Vietnamese Communist Government to stop sending the secret police to harass the democracy activists: cutting their phone, cutting their internet without valid reason, impeding their right of free movement and to make a living.
3/ Support the publication of a privately owned newspaper in Vietnam.
4/ Support a referendum in Vietnam under international supervision, to allow the Vietnamese people to exercise their right to choose between a one-party system and a multi-party system, leading to a truly free and democratic election in the future.
Finally, we would like to thank you and to wish you and your families good health and happiness.
Saigon, Vietnam, May 29th 2007
Phuong Nam Do Nam Hai