Open Letter to Reject the EU-Vietnam FTA: NO FREE TRADE WITH UNFREE REGIMES

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June 6, 2018


  • The Council of the European Union
  • The Members of the European Parliament

We, the undersigned organizations, urge European Union member countries to reject the pending free trade agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

After the European Parliament’s emergency resolution on Vietnam last December, it would be a disgrace if European countries were to ratify free trade with a country that is one of the world’s worst enemies of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. Over the last year, the Vietnamese authorities have arbitrarily detained scores of peaceful activists and bloggers. Just in April 2018, the Vietnamese authorities conducted five political trials and sentenced ten courageous human rights defenders and bloggers to harsh prison sentences of up to 15 years in prison for peacefully exercising rights to freedom of expression and association. In prison, torture and mistreatment are routinely used to extract confessions and force detainees to plead guilty. It is not unusual for prison officials to deny detained activists appropriate medical treatment.

The European External Action Service condemned the 5 April 2018 conviction and sentencing of Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Bac Truyen and Truong Minh Duc, stating these individuals “have peacefully advocated the promotion and protection of human rights as guaranteed by the Vietnamese Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Their sentences are in direct breach of these international obligations, which Vietnam has itself signed up to, and which the European Union expects full respect for.”

In June 2017 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, observed that the case of Nguyen Van Dai was “one of several cases that have been brought before the Working Group in recent years concerning the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of persons in Viet Nam,” and urged Viet Nam to “work with international human rights mechanisms to bring its laws and practices into conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenant.”

In September 2017, the Chair of the Committee on International Trade of the EU Parliament cautioned “if there are not sufficient solutions then the agreement will be in troubled water.”

Instead of responding to these calls to honor its human rights commitments, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has intensified the crackdown and continues to punish peaceful advocacy, freedom to inform, and freedom of expression with arbitrary detention, illegitimate charges, unfair trials and long-term imprisonment.

We urge you to reject the proposed free trade agreement with Vietnam. The EU should expand its economic relations with Vietnam only when the Hanoi government:

  • Releases all political prisoners, including the six prominent activists and bloggers listed in the EEAS statement of April 6
  • Demonstrates its full respect for freedom of information and freedom of association

Without these enabling freedoms, the EU would risk trade with a state that represses citizens who advocate for environmental protection and respect for human rights including worker rights.

Let’s support EU values through trade. Thank you for your support.

Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) Alliance for Democracy in Vietnam / LA-MS-AL Artillery Unit Veterans Association of Houston Association France Vietnam d’Entraide
Association of Family Members of Soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam / Holland Association of Fishermen of Buras, Louisiana Association of Former Political Prisoners of Houston Association of Veterans of the Republic of Vietnam / Switzerland
Association of Vietnamese People Hjørring Association of Vietnamese Refugees of Bremen Association of Vietnamese Refugees of Hamburg Association of Vietnamese Refugees of Mannheim and Surrounding Regions
Association of Vietnamese Refugees of Mönchengladbach Association of Vietnamese Refugees of Nürnberg-Mittelfranken Association of Vietnamese Youth of Paris Bau Bi Tuong Than Association
Brotherhood for Democracy Charity Task Force of Hoorn Holland Committee of Bloc 8406 Supporters of Louisiana Community of Vietnamese Refugees of Odenwald, Germany
Defend the Defenders Disabled Veterans and Widows Relief Association NSW Do Phu & Anh Tuan, Plc Ecole Sauvage
Families of Veterans for Rural Housing Development of Louisiana Free Vietnamese Association of Krefeld, Niederrhein, Germany Hoi Den Hung Foundation Human Rights Relief Foundation
Lam Son Martial Arts Academy LaVang Congregation of Sarasota Lawyers for Lawyers Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
Nang 21st Century Magazine Nguyen Cong Tru Club, South Australia Oath Group of Louisiana Office of Communication for Free Vietnamese of France
Organization of Vietnamese Refugees of the Federal Republic of Germany Phan Boi Chau Youth Association Political Action Coordinating Committee of the Federal Republic of Germany Political Action Coordinating Committee of the Houston Community
Radio Free Vietnam of Louisiana Regional Association of Former Political Prisoners of Louisiana Reporters Without Borders Social Democratic Party of Europe
Swiss Vietnamese Committee COSUNAM Tay Son Espoir The Vietnamese American Women’s Association The Vietnamese Community in Australia / NSW Chapter
The Vietnamese Community in Australia / SA Chapter The Vietnamese Culture and History Association The Vietnamese Refugees Association of Reckling The Vietnamese Yellow Flag Committee in South Australia
Thu Duc Officers of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Incorporation of Northern California TNT Radio Network TNT Radio San Diego Trung Vuong Women’s Association
Union of Former Vietnam Armed Forces Members Union of Vietnamese Refugees of Germany Union of Vietnamese Students Association of Paris Uy Ban Chong Van Hoa Van, South Australia
Viet Democratic Party Viet Labor Movement Viet Tan Vietnam Europa Radio
Vietnam House of Berlin Vietnam Navy Veterans of NSW Vietnam Path Movement UK Vietnam For Progress
Vietnam Sydney Radio Vietnam Veterans of Australia Vietnam Veterans of Australia NSW Branch Vietnam Veterans of Australia SA Branch
Vietnamese Association of Political Refugees of the Netherlands Vietnamese Commerce Group of San Diego Vietnamese Community in Australia / WA Chapter Vietnamese Community of Houston and Vicinity
Vietnamese Community of Liege Vietnamese Community of San Diego Vietnamese Culture Association of Aarhus, Denmark Vietnamese Culture Preservation Association of Moss & Rygge
Vietnamese Elders Association of Sarasota Florida Vietnamese Instructors Group Vietnamese National Association of Lausanne, Switzerland Vietnamese Nationalist Party / Main Force
Vietnamese Navy Veterans Association in South Australia Incorporated Vietnamese People’s Party Vietnamese Professionals Society / Belgium Vietnamese Veterans Association of Southern Australia Incorporated
VT Club of Houston Youth Association of Vietnamese Refugees
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