On May 16, 2017, Senator Thanh Hai Ngo issued the following statement regarding recent cases of severe human rights violations in Vietnam:
“I am seriously concerned about the excessive harassment of Catholic priest Father Dang Huu Nam, who was harshly defamed through a denouncement campaign organized by local communist authorities.
“Earlier this month, Father Dang Huu Nam and his parishioners were subjected to ongoing state-sponsored harassment and provocation for calling for accountability and responsibility for the victims of the Formosa fish disaster, the worst environmental disaster in Vietnam’s history. Father Dang Huu Nam’s non-violent movement for truth and justice has mobilized thousands across the country who are demanding justice for those who have been poisoned and who lost their livelihoods because of the Formosa-caused environmental disaster.
Credible reports are now revealing that the Vietnamese authorities are bribing women, children and elderly people to initiate public demonstrations calling for the death penalty for Father Nam, whom they allege is dividing the country.
“This unacceptable crackdown on peaceful dissent and the repeated public targeting of human rights activists for so-called offences such as ‘disseminating propaganda against the communist state’ and Article 258 ‘abusing democratic freedoms’ is too often used by the communist Vietnamese government. The government refuses to take responsibility for the dire impacts of an environmental tragedy that has affected millions of its citizens.
“I am also deeply appalled to have learned of the murder of Mr. Nguyen Huu Tan, a prisoner of conscience and a targeted member of the Hoa Hao minority faith group. Earlier this month, Mr. Nguyen Huu Tan’s throat was grotesquely slit while being held in unlawful custody on charges of “anti-state propaganda” for simply flying the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag on April 30 and following groundless accusations of “disseminating anti-state documents” after his private residence was searched on May 2.
“It is even more troubling that the governing authorities declared this traumatic incident was ruled out by the governing authorities as a suicide with inconclusive proof and even after the victim’s family and his father, a Hoa Hao monk known as Thich Phap Quan, insisted it was an inhumane cover-up.
“I categorically condemn these gross human rights violations and acts of state-induced terror. These controversies have shocked the conscience of Vietnamese-Canadians and Vietnamese communities across the globe.
“I express my deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Mr. Nguyen Huu Tan, who was murdered in prison while taking a strong stance for our shared values of freedom, human rights and the rule of law. I also send my strongest support to those who are upholding their freedom of expression by calling for justice, accountability and responsibility alongside Father Dang Huu Nam’s peaceful movement for the victims of the Formosa disaster.
“With Canada celebrating the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag on Journey to Freedom Day on April 30 every year since 2015, it is extremely unfortunate that Vietnamese dissidents are continually harassed and killed for peacefully expressing themselves, without any legal framework or government transparency to protect them.
“As the Government of Canada engages closely with Vietnam, it absolutely must stand true and demonstrate leadership for the greater protection of human rights. The Canadian Embassy in Hanoi should record these persistent human rights abuses more regularly and closely investigate these cases by engaging directly with the victims.
“As a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Vietnam has an obligation to respect and uphold the basic civil and political rights of its own citizens. I therefore urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to remind the Socialist Republic of Vietnam of its duty to comply with its global human rights obligations and to express our deep concerns with these ongoing violations at every opportunity.”
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Senator Thanh Hai Ngo