To: The Embassies of Italy, Netherlands, France, Germany, and the European Union

At the meeting on 5/16/2018 at Giac Hoa Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City

Dear:

– The Embassies of Italy, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the EU

– The Political Attaché of the Embassies

Today the Inter-faith Council of Vietnam, which was brought together by the dignitaries of the 5 major religions in Vietnam in order to fight for religious freedom and human rights, welcomes you at Giac Hoa Pagoda , Binh Thanh District, where Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh is temporarily staying.

Previously, the Inter-faith Council had its office at Lien Tri Pagoda in Thu Thiem, Saigon. On September 8, 2016,  Lien Tri Pagoda was leveled by Communist government of Vietnam to take land for investment and was coerced  to remote places in order to isolate the abbot, the Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh and his disciples. Therefore, all the temple’s monks had to go to live at Giac Hoa Pagoda. At present, the government attached the surveillance camera to the Giac Hoa pagoda’s front gate  to record and monitor all people coming in and out and to scare some Buddhists  to worship Buddha!

The Inter-faith Council of Vietnam is composed of 29 members of the independent Churches, so the religious practices encountered many difficulties, repressions and terrors from the communist authorities.

Today, the Council would like to present to you a brief report on human rights abuses and religious persecutions in Vietnam where you are carrying out your diplomatic missions.

We have attached previous reports to international officials so that you can see more about the situations of repressions in Vietnam.

   I- SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN VIETNAM

  1. About politics:

Over the past 43 years, our country has lived under the rule of the Communist Party of Vietnam, a totalitarian dictatorship that deprives all basic freedoms of its people. From the beginning of 2017, the party is vigorously pursuing what it calls the “fight against corruption,” under the direction of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. But according to the democracy movement in general and our own in particular, this is just a struggle for power and interests among the Communist Party members, the powers that the Communists have long robbed from the people, and the interests they have acquired as a result of the exploitation of the country’s resources and its people’s properties. Therefore, a totalitarian regime, without three branches of government as its system of  checks and balances, naturally produces corruptions which they are not willing to clean up and are not capable  to solve the problems.

  1. On Human Rights issues: The Vietnamese authorities attended the 37th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland (2/26 to 3/3/2018). As in other previous times and as in the “regular human rights dialogues” between Vietnam and the European countries, the delegation of Hanoi always gives a good picture of the human rights situations in Vietnam with promises and solemn commitments. But for us, and the Vietnamese people, it was just a new show to deceit the international world because they continue the policy of persecuting the Vietnamese people on the legal and practical level to maintain the power of the Communist Party. Here are some typical events:

A- Legal issues: From 01/01/2018, many important legal texts, such as the revised Criminal Code, the Religious Law, came into effect. Compiled by the party but not by the people, these laws are stricter than the old ones, with more stringent controls over the activities of citizens and punishment reaching out even to the preparation of criminal acts (Criminal Code), with the criminalization of all religious activities to force every church to always ask the authorities for everything related to morality information (Religious and Belief Act).

In addition, not seeking the opinion of the people the government is drafting a Law on Associations, used to prohibit the establishment or coerce all independent civil society; and then the Law on Cyber ​​Security, used to closely control social networks, websites, blogs, cell phone numbers; the establishment of military and police agencies, used to monitor and combat the internet … All show that they intend to increase the control and steering of the mind of the people toward the party, limit or even put a stranglehold on freedom of association and freedom of speech in Vietnam.

B- Reality:

B1- Severe criminalization of prisoners of conscience: In the fact of increasingly oppressive politics, increasingly lagging-behind economy, increasingly degrading culture, increasingly polluted environment, increasingly chaotic society, increasingly unjust laws, and especially increasingly dangerous security, many individuals or groups have the courage to speak up. But they were severely repressed by the government.

In mid-November, 2017, the NOW! Campaign, a joint initiative of 15 international civil society organizations, published a list of 165 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam at that time. They are human rights lawyers, democratic warriors, independent journalists, union activists, environmental and land activists, religious minorities who are not recognized by the state. They all act peacefully, without violence or hatred.

 

– Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Mother Mushroom) on June 29, 2017 was sentenced by the Khanh Hoa province court to 10 years in prison for “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Item 1, Article 88 of the Code Criminal. She was honored by the US State Department as “the Brave International Woman ” in 2017.

– Student Phan Kim Khanh on 10/25/2017 was sentenced by Thai Nguyen province court to 6 years imprisonment and 4 years of probation for alleged “propaganda against the state” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

– A group of 5 youths on December 21, 2017 was sentenced by An Giang Province to a 19-year prison sentence for “flying the flag of the Republic of Vietnam.”

– Ms. Tran Thi Nga on 12/22/2017 was sentenced by Ha Tay province court to 9-year imprisonment and 5 years of probation for “propaganda against the state” under Item 1, Article 88 of the Penal Code.

– A group of nine human rights activists on December 28, 2017 was sentenced by the Binh Dinh Provincial Court to “Operation to Overthrow the People’s Government” and “Propaganda against the State” under Article 79, 88 of the Penal Code, with a total sentence of 83 years, including: Mr. Ta Tan Loc and Nguyen Quang Thanh, 14 years in prison, Huynh Huu Dat 13-year imprisonment. The rest were sentenced to 3 years to 12 years imprisonment.

– Mr. Tran Anh Kim was sentenced by Thai Binh province court on June 25, 1977 with 13-year imprisonment, 4 years of house arrest on charges of “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Penal Code. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison with 20 years in prison, 7 years of probation. Le Thanh Tung was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 4 years of house arrest. (see attached report).

– “Brotherhood of Democracy”, a civil society organization, including 6 people (lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, journalist Truong Minh Duc, lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen, engineer Pham Van Troi , teacher Le Thu Ha, on April 5, 2018 were sentenced by a Hanoi court to a total of 66 years in prison and 17 years of probation for “conspiring to overthrow the people’s government.” The other two members of the association, Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc on April 19, 2018 was sentenced to 13 years in Thai Binh province and Ms. Tran Thi Xuan on April 12, was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment, 5 years probation in Ha Tinh province.

– Student Nguyen Viet Dung on April 12, 2018 was sentenced to 7-year imprisonment and 5-year probation for alleged “propaganda against the state” by the court of Nghe An province.

– Environmental activist Hoang Duc Binh, on April 24, 2018, was sentenced by the court of Nghe An province to 14 years in prison.

– Teacher Vu Van Hung, sentenced to 1 year imprisonment for “intentionally causing injury.”

(Attachment is a list of prisoners of conscience reported in 2017, a small number were released from prison, or expelled overseas).

B2- Unjust Lawsuits and Trials: In addition to those in the Penal Code, such as 79, 88, 258, 109, 117, 331, laws and political trials in Vietnam are currently unlawful: (1) the persecution process is violent and disregarded, (2) the police interrogation is lacking of lawyers, (3) the judges and prosecutors are conspired, (4) the defense lawyers are frequently interrupted, (5) the evidences are not fully considered, the predetermined verdicts have been made by the authorities, (6) the defendants are not free to express; (7) their relatives are restricted from being present; (8) their friends are not allowed to attend, even be beaten and looted by police, (9) most of the prisoners of conscience have to bear the unjust and heavy judgments, just because they are acting peacefully for democracy, human rights, clean environment and religious freedom.

B3- The death of suspects in police custody: Many suspects were reportedly being abducted at police stations and died as a result of torture or pressure, but were reported as “suicides” by the police. Here is a list of some typical cases:

– On May 3, 2017, Nguyen Huu Tan, 38, was arrested by the Vinh Long provincial police for “spreading anti-government material”, and reported killing himself with a paper knife after one day detention in custody. His neck was cut near completely.

– On June 14, 1977, Ngo Chi Tam (born in 1977) was reportedly suicidal with pants in Tam Binh Ward, Thu Duc District.

– 06-07-2017, Nguyen Hong De, 25, taken to the police station of Police in Phan Rang – Thap Cham, then was reported that “while sitting writing self-declaration at the office of Investigator, he used his jacket as a string hanging into the window to commit suicide. ”

– On September 8, 2017, Mr. Vo Tan Minh died suspected at police station of Phan Rang-Thap Cham city, Ninh Thuan province.

– On October 15, 2017, 32-year-old Hoang Van Ka died unexpectedly at the Nghe An police detention center.

B4- Suppression of the religions:

            Caodaism

– On March 1, 1979, the Communist government dissolved the Cao Dai Congregation at Tay ninh and founded the new government-controlled Cao Dai religion in 2016. From then on, the government has caused difficulties to those who do not follow Caodaism established by the authorities.

– On April 14, 2015, the Cao Dai Tuy An Temple in An Cu Commune, Tuy An District, Phu Yen was destroyed by the authorities.

– Head of the Congregation, Sub-dignitary Hua Phi, living in Duc Trong – Lam Dong, was continuously harassed from January 12, 2018 and has had paralysis of left half body without permission for treatment. He had administrative fines due to his activities for freedom of religion and human rights. His resident has been blocked and guarded by police throughout the day and he has been not allowed to leave his hometown.

– Two colleagues, visiting him on February 5, 2018 were also assaulted and severely wounded.

Catholic

– Thien An Catholic monastery in Thua Thien Hue was harassed, slandered, threatened; the government destroyed the Cross, assaulted monks on 6/ 28 and 6/29/2017.

– Many parishes in the Diocese of Vinh (such as Phu Yen, Song Ngoc, Van Thai, Dong Kieu, Ke Gai, Phuc Loc) were attacked by police and “red flag” thugs throughout 2017.

– Thu Thiem Parish and the “Sisters of Holy Cross Lovers of Thu Thiem” monastery were auctioned by the Saigon authorities on their land and premises on May 1, 2018

– St. Paul’s Monastery in Hanoi was seized by a businesswomen, covered by the authorities and supported by police and thugs in Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District on May 08, 2018, and a new building was constructed on that land.

            Hoa Hao Buddhism:

– The Pure Hoa Hao Buddhist Church was prevented from celebrating the birth of Master Huynh Giao Chu on 1/11/2018.

– Mr. Vuong Van Tha (Hoa Hao Buddhist follower) on January 23, 2018 was sentenced by An Giang province Court to 12 years in prison for allegedly under Article 88 of the Penal Code, “Propaganda against the State.” His son, Vuong Thanh Thuan,  and his two grandchildren were sentenced to 7 years in prison and of 6 years each respectively.

– Six Hoa Hao Buddhist, including Bui Van Trung and his two sons, were sentenced to 22 years just for religious establishment on February 9, 2018.

– The resident of Nguyen Van Dien, president of the Central Committee of Hoa Hao Buddhist Association, has been surrounded and guarded for many years by the police, and even banned from going out of An Giang province.

            Buddhism:

– The Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Church (UVBC) has been banned by the state since 1980. The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do was detained in Thanh Minh Temple in Saigon for many years.

– The Buddhist temples of UVCB face difficulties if they do not integrate with the Buddhist Church of Vietnam Association which was established and controlled by the government.

– Liên Tri temple was leveled on 8/9/2018. Its abbot, the Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh and the monks and nuns had to stay at Giac Hoa Temple.

Protestant:

– On July 30, 2017, Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Hon was sentenced to 13 years in prison and four years of probation for alleged “conspiracy to overthrow the people’s state.” He is confined in B14 prison Hanoi and his health is very weak.

– Rev. Doan Van Dien was arrested several times in December 2017 (Christmas season) to force his son Doan Huy Chuong, who has joined the Independent League not permitted by the government, to surrender to the authorities. Chuong is also a former prisoner of conscience who has just released from jail but has always been supervised and deprived of his freedom.

– Pastors and missionaries in the Central Highlands ethnic group are still harassed and persecuted. On 15th February, 2017, the preacher Y Dua Nie, born in 1986 and residing in Buon Drai, Ea Ana commune, Krong Ana district, Dak Lak province,  was abducted by police at To Lo commune, Ea Bong commune, Krong An district, while riding motorcycles with a fellow to buy food for worshipers who are praying  in the church.

(Please see the attached Protestant Statement)

II- RECOMMENDATIONS

1- Please regularly monitor the human rights situation in the totalitarian communist regime in Vietnam, since 1954 in the North and since 1975 throughout Vietnam, which has only built by violence and lies, on the tears and blood of their citizens and their compatriots. Aids for such a nefarious and unfair regime needs to be carefully considered, otherwise it will help  dictatorship and cruelty.

  1. Please always put the conditions of human rights in your relations with the Vietnamese government, whether in economic, cultural, commercial or military terms, and be ready to take sanctions, for example, the CPC list in the United States, when Hanoi has repeated serious human rights abuses. In reality, there are too many cases.

3- Please quickly and actively apply the Magnitsky Global Human Rights Act (established by Canada and the United States) in order to effectively deter the ruling elite in Vietnam, who have deprive their citizens, organizations, and religions’ possessions  and seek to run to the West to enjoy their leisure.

4- Please note that only Vietnamese people who love justice and truth and only the government that respects human rights and democracy, are true friends of your countries. At that time, your economic, cultural and scientific supports to our country will bring real results and the Vietnamese people will appreciate your helps. In the immediate future, please support the movement for democracy and human rights in our country to be successful so that we can practice religion freely and our people enjoy freedom and democracy as your countries.

Sincerely Yours,

            Made in Vietnam, May 16, 2018

Co-signed by the Dignitaries of the Interfaith Council of Vietnam:

            Caodaism:

– Sub-dignitary Hua Phi (telephone: 0163.3273.240)

– Sub-dignitary Nguyen Kim Lan (telephone: 0988.971.117)

– Sub-dignitary Nguyen Bach Phung (telephone: 0988.477.719)

Sub-dignitary Nguyen Dinh Cuc (telephone: 01664967257).

Sub-dignitary Le Thi Nho (telephone: 0977697579).

Sub-dignitary Doan Cong Danh (telephone: 0977.961.750)

Sub-dignitary Dang Van Dao (telephone: 0933.963.378).

Sub-dignitary Nguyen Ngoc Luu (teletelephone: 0167.7551.167).

            Catholicism:

– Priest Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly (telephone: 0932211438)

– Priest Peter Phan Van Loi (telephone: 0984.236.371)

– Priest Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai (telephone: 0935.569.205)

– Priest Paul Le Xuan Loc (telephone: 0122.596.9335)

– Priest Joseph Nguyen Cong Binh (telephone: 0169.249.8463)

            Buddhism:

– Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh (telephone: 0165.6789.881)

– Venerable Thich Tu Giao (telephone: 0912.717.819)

– Venerable Thich Dong Minh (telephone: 0933.738.591)

– Venerable Thich Vinh Phuoc (telephone: 0969.992.087)

– Venerable Thich Duc Minh (telephone: 0165.348.2276)

            Hoa Hao Buddhism:

– Mr. Nguyen Van Dien (telephone: 0122.870.7160)

– Mr. Le Quang Hien (telephone: 0167.292.1234)

– Mr. Le Van Soc (telephone: 096.4199.039)

– Mr. Phan Tan Hoa (telephone: 0162.6301.082)

– Mr. Bui Van Luoc (telephone: 0169.612.9094)

– Mr. Ha Van Duy Ho (telephone: 012.33.77.29.29)

– Mr. Tran Van Quang (telephone: 0169.303.22.

            Protestantism:

– Pastor Nguyen Hoang Hoa (telephone: 0121.9460.045)

– Pastor Nguyen Manh Hung (telephone: 0906.342.908)

– Pastor Doan Van Dien (telephone: 0167.6923.013)

                With the communion of Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton now in communist custody.

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