Human Rights: Vietnam

(Speech of The Hon Alan Cadman MP - Federal Member for Mitchell

- Bài nói chuyện của Dân biểu Liên bang Alan Cadman trên diễn đàn Quốc hội Liên bang Úc)

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (7.35 p.m.)—Last Saturday evening I had the pleasure of representing the government at the annual new year festival of the Vietnamese community at Warwick Farm in Sydney. The Federal President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, Dr Tien Nguyen, and Mr Tri Vo brought to my attention human rights infringements currently taking place in Vietnam. They expressed a very deep concern on behalf of the Australian-Vietnamese community regarding the journalist Nguyen Vu Binh and Reverend Father Nguyen Van Ly.

Nguyen Vu Binh is a 39-year-old journalist who was arrested in Vietnam by communist authorities in September 2002. They charged him in an unfair trial in December 2003 with spying and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment, plus three years house arrest on release. Last week, the Vietnamese community in Australia were alerted to the alarmingly deteriorating health of Mr Nguyen vu Binh and have since confirmed this news with his wife, Mrs Bui Kim Ngan. Dr Son, who is his doctor, said that he is ready to discuss these issues with Australian authorities. Mr Nguyen Vu Binh started the Liberal Democratic Party in 1999. He was briefly detained in July 2002 and, a month later, arrested for criticising a controversial border treaty with China, which he distributed on the internet.

Mr Nguyen is a journalist who writes widely and communicates via the internet. His trial was heard on 31 December 2003 and lasted only three hours. He was charged under article 80 of the criminal code with spying. The spying he undertook was to express, with other dissidents, his concern with the management of the nation and the way in which human rights were being disposed of in Vietnam. Most of the dissidents who were arrested at that time were detained in connection with transmission of material on the internet and via email which was critical of government policies. Of the known dissidents arrested under the crackdown, Nguyen Vu Binh, Dr Pham Hong Son and Nguyen Khac Toan remain in prison serving long prison sentences.

There was also a crackdown in Vietnam on the Christian community, and the arrest of Reverend Father Nguyen Van Ly is also of deep concern to Australian Vietnamese. The priest who was arrested was conducting services at his home. It was the time of the new year, on 16 February of this year. On 18 February the diocese centre was wrecked by military soldiers under instruction from the Communist Party of Vietnam. The priest was under house arrest, and other Christians in the area have since been jailed. Some are on hunger strikes. There is deep concern about the health of both the Reverend Father Nguyen Van Ly and the journalist Mr Nguyen Vu Binh.

It is a matter of deep concern to me and the Australian government that the invasion of human rights continues in Vietnam. In addition, I have reports from the organisation Persecution about a number of invasions of homes, about the detention of people and about the locking up of dissidents—particularly from the Christian and Buddhist communities—for standing up for basic human rights. These are documented by the International Movement for Democracy and Human Rights in Vietnam, and they have occurred both in the cities and in the north. I call upon the government of Vietnam to change its ways and to resolve these issues in a democratic process. China is changing. Germany has changed. The Soviet Union has changed. It is time for Vietnam to take up democracy, freedom and justice on behalf of its people.

House of Representative Hansard          28th February 2007

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