News / Asia

    Police Crack Down on Human Rights Day Events in Vietnam

    Marianne Brown
    Activists in Vietnam have complained of police harassment at events held to mark International Human Rights Day.  

    To mark the day Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear issued a statement  urging the country to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an agreement adopted in 1948 which outlines fundamental freedoms and rights of people across the world.

    Shear said achieving demonstrable progress on human rights is vital to the relationship between the two countries and affects every facet of foreign policy.

    Over the last few months Vietnam has signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and reached out to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief to visit Vietnam, the statement said.

    It has also become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. However, some activists question how much progress has really been made.

    This week, participants at rallies to celebrate Human Rights Day reported being harassed by police.

    Blogger Me Nam, which means “Mother Mushroom,” was at the inaugural meeting of Vietnamese Women For Human Rights on Tuesday at a pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City.

    “Today we gave the invitation to about 50 people. Some of them couldn’t be there because the police stop [them] at the beginning at home,” said Me Nam.

    The group was launched last month to provide a support network for women involved in human rights activism.

    “The important issues that we talk about today is we gave the plan to visit the home of women who were arrested or who have husbands or brothers who were arrested. We also meet some people who are farmers who lost their land and they were evicted by the police,” said Me Nam.

    Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Lan Thang in a Hanoi cafe on Nov. 27, 2013.Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Lan Thang in a Hanoi cafe on Nov. 27, 2013.
    x
    Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Lan Thang in a Hanoi cafe on Nov. 27, 2013.
    Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Lan Thang in a Hanoi cafe on Nov. 27, 2013.
    At another event on Sunday more than 100 people gathered near a park in central Hanoi to hand out balloons marked with the slogan “Our Human Rights Must Be Respected.” However, blogger Nguyen Lan Thang said the event was soon broken up by police.

    He said the police prevented bloggers from handing out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He said at a similar meeting in Ho Chi Minh City the same day police threw mắm tôm - a pungent condiment made of fermented shrimp - at participants.

    Thang is a member of the Vietnamese Bloggers Network, a group of online activists who are calling for greater freedom of expression in the country. On Tuesday the group launched a new website.

    Thang said the network is new and open, and welcomes anyone who is interested in a broad range of human rights issues to join.

    Vietnam has been criticized for using vaguely worded laws to prosecute activists. In a move last month which some analysts believe marks a change in the government's approach, lawmakers passed Decree 174, which lays out restrictions on internet content. The latest legislation outlines fines of up to $2,500 for conducting propaganda against the state via social networks or websites.

    Trinh Huu Long, a lawyer and former journalist is among another group of activists who have asked the National Assembly to interpret an article in the constitution which covers freedom of association.

    “We want it to be clearer, more specific, not ambiguous like current laws,” said Trinh Huu Long.

    However, they have as yet received no response from authorities.

    Blogger Thang said the change of tactic will not intimidate online activists. He said people are more confident in speaking out because the activist community is growing larger and stronger.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora