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Political Participation

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Vũ Quang Thuận (left) and Nguyễn Văn Điển (right) with a political officer of the American Embassy in Hanoi. Source: Facebook Lê Quốc Quân

The 88 Project, March 3, 2017: Vietnamese state-owned media announced the arrests of two Hanoi-based dissidents, Mr. Vũ Quang Thuận  and Mr. Nguyễn Văn Điển, for “making and distributing video clips with bad content on the Internet.” Official report did not clarify under charges they were arrested. The two may be charged under Art. 88 of the Criminal Code for “propaganda against the Socialist state.”

Both Vũ Quang Thuận (born 1966, nickname Võ Phù Đổng) and Nguyễn Văn Điển (born 1983, nickname Điển Ái Quốc) are leading members of Phong Trào Dân Tộc Chấn Hưng Nước Việt (“Vietnam Progressive Movement”), which has as its principle the motto “Democracy, Progress, Humanity, Peace.” After the arrest of a founding member of the Movement, former political prisoner Lê Thăng Long, in Vietnam in a major political crackdown in 2009, Thuận and Điển fled to Malaysia, but they were arrested, deported back to Vietnam, and detained at the Detention Center 34 in Hồ Chí Minh city. Điển was then released, but Thuận was coerced into an internment at a mental hospital in Đồng Nai. After Thuận’s discharge from the hospital (year unknown), Điển and Thuận has been continuing to work together in their advocating efforts.

The duo have been producing and running a YouTube video channel through which Vũ Quang Thuận discusses political issues, advocates for the respect of human rights and democracy. The last video series they uploaded two days ago is entitled “Guide to Lawful Protest,” which could be one of the reasons that triggered their arrests. Note that recently, there has been an appeal circulated online, allegedly from Father Thadeus Nguyễn Văn Lý, a prominent former prisoner of conscience, calling people to take to the streets every Sunday and holidays starting March 5, 2017, to protest peacefully to “regain the people’s sovereignty.”

© 2017 The 88 Project

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Activists in Hanoi meet on Feb 17 to mark the 38th military invasion of China in Vietnam’s northern region. Source: vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net

Defend the Defenders, February 17, 2017: On February 17, Vietnam’s security forces in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh violently dispersed the peaceful gatherings of local activists who want to mark the 38th anniversary of China’s invasion of the country’s six northernmost provinces.

Hundreds of after activists gathered in Ly Thai To King memorial in Hanoi and General Tran Hung Dao memorial in HCM City to commemorate the thousands of fallen soldiers and civilians killed by the People’s Liberation Army of China during the one-month military invasion which started on February 17, 1979.

Authorities in Hanoi and HCM City deployed a large number of police officers, plainclothes agents and militia to the two places. Shortly after activists came, security forces demanded them to leave the areas, saying they cause social disorders.

A number of activists, including Nguyen Thi Kim Chi in HCM City and Nguyen Xuan Dien, Nguyen Lan Thang, Bach Hong Quyen, blogger Trung Nguyen, Dang Bich Phuong and Le My Hanh were detained by police. Read More

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Source: Thuc-Followers’s Facebook page

The 88 Project, February 16, 2017: Followers of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a prominent Vietnamese political prisoner, have started two petitions on change.org to “urge VietNam Communist Party as well as the Parliament to hold a referendum for free election and on transformation to a multi-party political regime with the attendance and monitoring of the civil society groups across the nation.” The petition in Vietnamese has received 767 signatures after two weeks.

Thuc-Followers is an online community of almost 2,500 Vietnamese who agree with and follow Tran Huynh Duy Thuc‘s vision for a peaceful political change in Vietnam. This petition reflects the viewpoint that sustainable change must come from within the country, starting with giving the Vietnamese people political rights and equal participation in the political process, as individuals and as organized groups, that is, political parties and civil society organizations.

It should be noted that matters of multipartyism and free and fair elections are considered “politically sensitive” in the one-party communist regime in Vietnam. Members of opposition political parties are often the primary targets for harassment, persecution, and imprisonment by the regime’s powerful public security apparatus.

See and sign the petition in English here to support this vision of peaceful political change for Vietnam. The petition in Vietnamese can be found here. Read More

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Mr. Nguyen Ho Nhat Thanh (second from left) at a meeting with UN Special Rapporter on freedom of religion and belief Heiner Bielefeldt. Source: vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net

Defend the Defenders, December 28, 2016: Nguyen Ho Nhat Thanh, a young activist from Saigon, was kidnapped, interrogated and beaten two times by plainclothes police on December 26, the victim has told Defend the Defenders.

Thanh, who is organizing a training course on activism for young individuals from the southern region, said on Monday’s afternoon he was informed by the trainees that local authorities came to the training site to demand for administrative check. Shortly after coming to a cafeteria nearly at 3.30 PM, he was suddenly attacked by a group of ten plainclothes agents. Read More

Nguyen Quang A writes a comment on Facebook while sitting at a cafe after an interview in Hanoi, Vietnam

Nguyen Quang A writes a comment on Facebook while sitting at a cafe after an interview in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI – THE ECONOMIST (March 19, 2016): By running for parliament, political outsiders challenge one-party rule

Rogue candidates have little chance of surviving into May. Yet it will be hard for the Communist Party to silence them entirely, mainly because of their prominence in social media (The Economist)

ONE of Vietnam’s political gadflies, Nguyen Quang A, posted a letter this week to the chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly. Mr Quang A wrote that he had collected 5,000 signatures from among the public, including from famous writers, senior Communist Party officials and a retired general, and that he was now putting himself forward as a candidate for the rubber-stamp parliament. The odds of his bid succeeding, Mr Quang A acknowledges, are “nearly zero”. The assembly has a candidate-vetting process known as the “five gates” to keep out undesirables like him who “self-nominate”. Still, he is happy that his protest candidacy is a rare challenge to the party. Read More

Nguyen Quang A writes a comment on Facebook while sitting at a cafe after an interview in Hanoi, Vietnam

Nguyen Quang A writes a comment on Facebook while sitting at a cafe after an interview in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

REUTERS, HANOI | Former IT entrepreneur and banker Nguyen Quang A is running a disciplined campaign to be elected to Vietnam’s parliament, declaring his assets, securing voter endorsements and appearing in a slick online video.

He is not, however, a member of the Communist Party of Vietnam nor the kind of candidate that the monolithic ruling party wants in its rubber-stamp legislature.

Quang A is one of its biggest critics and among 19 dissidents trying to run as independents in a May election to the assembly, determined to test the sincerity of promises made by the party to strengthen democracy.

“They tell us we have rights and say the regime is democratic,” he said in an interview. “Let’s see them turn rhetoric into reality.”

To pique the Communists further, Quang A is waiting to see if party chief Nguyen Phu Trong will seek re-election to the National Assembly so that he can go head-to-head with him for his seat. Read More

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Dr. Nguyen Quang A (Source: Internet)

Dr. Nguyen Quang A, a renowned Vietnamese businessman, scholar, and dissident, has launched an appeal to Vietnamese citizens to exercise their right to stand for election in the upcoming National Assembly’s elections of May 2016. He himself just kicked off a campaign to gauge the public support for his own nomination by asking people to sign a public petition to show their support.

Elections in one-party Vietnam are controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam. All candidates must be members of the Communist Party of Vietnam or endorsed by the Fatherland Front – a branch of the the Communist Party. Article 27 of the current Constitution provides for the citizens’ “right to stand for election to the National Assembly,” but this is not the legal and political reality of Vietnam. The 88 Project presents here the excerpt of Dr. Nguyen Quang A’s appeal in which he clarifies the motivation to exercise the right to stand for election within a one-party regime.

LET’S STAND FOR ELECTION TO GRADUALLY TURN RIGHTS ON PAPER INTO ACTUAL RIGHTS AND HELP MR. TRONG PROVE THAT “[VIETNAM] IS DEMOCRATIC AT THE MOST.”*

[*Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong – referred in this article as Mr. Trong, was reelected as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam in January 2016. Commenting on the Politburo’s election results, he said “it was democratic at the most, it couldn’t be more democratic.”] 

Nguyen Quang A – The elections of the 14th Legislature of the National Assembly will take place on May 22, 2016. Apparently, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is preparing to nominate 896 candidates (which include 80 members of the Central Committee of the CPV). It is normal for a political party to prepare the nomination of its candidates to compete in the legislative elections. However, in our “democratic at the most” society, this is not quite normal.

Since there are no other political parties to compete agains the CPV, the nomination of candidates is a monopoly power of the CPV and its affiliated organizations. Until now, very few people self-nominate. Besides a handful of people who got implicit approval from the CPV to run for elections, almost all self-nominating candidates got ruthlessly eliminated by the “democratic to the most” procedural rules, despite the solemn guarantee by Article 27 of the Constitution of the right of every citizen who reaches the age of twenty-one to stand for election to the National Assembly.

1. LET’S GRADUALLY TURN THE RIGHTS ON PAPER INTO ACTUAL ONES

The right to self-nominate for election has still been a supposed right. The law on elections should be revised to ensure nobody can take away the right of citizens to stand for election. However, from now until March 13, 2016 (the deadline to submit self-nomination application – 70 days before the election day), there are many things citizens can do to help turning the supposed right into an actual one.   Read More