Dang Xuong Hung, a diplomat who defected from the Vietnamese Communist Party, addresses the 6th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks.
Dang Xuong Hung: Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, my name is Dang Xuong Hung. I am the former consul of Vietnam in Geneva, and the former deputy director of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Vietnam. I would like to thank UN Watch for giving me the opportunity to inform the world about the absence of democracy and the human rights violations in Vietnam.
This is the reason for which, since October 18th, 2013, I have broken with the Vietnamese Communist Party and the regime. I’m going to present my point of view, that of someone from within the regime, on what is happening in terms of human rights in Vietnam, and I will make some comments and observations in order to respond to the questions that I have asked myself for many years. Namely, why isn’t there democracy or human rights observance in Vietnam? What must we do to remedy the situation?
A democratic regime requires two factors, that is, a democratic culture and democratic institutions. Democratic institutions can only exist if the leadership nurtures a democratic culture. But Vietnam has neither one nor the other. Vietnamese leaders today do not support a democratic culture at all. And this has led them to build an anti-democratic regime, which flouts human rights.
I became a member of the Communist Party in 1986. At that time, the party endeavoured to carry out reforms. When the Berlin wall collapsed, there were a certain number of leaders who lean towards democracies, such as [inaudible names], but they were rapidly sidelined from leadership. And any democratic thoughts that were beginning to bud at the time were quickly stifled.
So, although other socialist regimes crumbled, the Vietnamese Communist Party continued blindly to follow Marxist Leninism and has refused to open up to Democratic ideas and to support human rights, which for many years, have become universal values. Thus, the Communist Party has plunged the country into the deep crisis that exists today, and this observation leads me to ask another question: why is it that human rights don’t exist in Vietnam? It is because of the Communist Party that the country has deteriorated.
Faced with this critical situation, I could not remain silent any longer, and I decided to publish my position, to break with the Communist Party. And I wanted to cry out loud to the entire world, that our country is in danger, that my fellow citizens are oppressed by the communist regime. Watch the human rights situation and that of democracy in Vietnam.
Concerning the situation in Vietnam, I have the following comments to make. The current regime is a one-party dictatorship that exclusively serves the interests of the ruling class. Article IV of the Constitution stipulates that the Communist Party is the governing party in Vietnam and is the only legal political party. The government is organised and designed to preserve the party’s grip on society. The protection of citizens’ interests takes the back burner. As a result, the government of Vietnam gives very little importance to respecting human rights. The leaders have become, really, red capitalists.
The security forces are many in number. According to the estimates of the end of 2013, there is one security agent per 18 inhabitants. Now, despite its name, the public security ministry is not concerned with security, but rather is concerned with monitoring and oppressing the population. And I agree with the recommendation of one of the countries that participated in the Human Rights Universal Periodic Review, which said that Vietnam should train its security forces in a culture of human rights. The Constitution obliged the armed forces to be loyal, above all, to the Communist Party before this date.
The legislative, executive and judiciary branches and National Assembly, the government and courts are all controlled by the Communist Party. Their only purpose is to remain their own political monopoly. And I’ve already said that the National Assembly of Vietnam falls under the Communist Party. Faced with the legitimate protests, of intellectuals and of the people, the National Assembly approved nonetheless an insidious revision of the Constitution, with an approval rate of 98%. The members of the National Assembly could not act in any other way because they were all members of the Communist Party. Thirdly, fundamental human rights are not respected in Vietnam. There are no free elections. In reality, people can only elect the people who have been pre-selected by the party. And no one has the right to come forward as a candidate freely in an election.
The jurors [inaudible name] recently tried to stand for elections, but he was removed and is now in prison. This shows that elections are merely window dressing; individual liberties of speech and opinion are severely jeopardised. The regime, right now, is applying a policy of violent repression against political dissidents. There are long prison sentences, and the authorities use different kinds of brute force, including employing paid thugs to harass and brutalise dissidents. There are about 250 prisoners of conscience. The real number would be much higher were it not for polling errors and because political arrests have been hidden under other trumped up charges.
The authorities [inaudible] was arrested for inappropriate sexual relations, an example of the ridiculous reasons that are invoked. [Inaudible name] was arrested and sentenced for tax evasion and [inaudible] were in prison simply because they expressed their patriotism in border disputes with China. There are cases of prisoners of conscience who are suffering from serious illnesses and are still kept in prison, despite their state of health. Mr. [inaudible] and Mr. [inaudible] has cancer, which was declared during his imprisonment. And it was said that he could have been saved if the treatment began earlier. He is now dying, he can no longer eat nor drink; his illness is terminal.
According to the Ranking of 2013 by Reporters Without Borders, Vietnam ranked 174th out of 180 countries. Vietnamese leaders are afraid of the truth. They have stepped up repression, they have censored information, and cracked down on the internet through laws and firewalls, and through piracy. 34 bloggers have been thrown into prison. No institution or organisation can protect the interests of the people.
The situation of the dispossessed of the land is dramatic; they have no protection and they must fight all alone. Facing such distress, the authorities turn a blind eye. There are land expropriations by interest groups and the authorities put down any protests, which is the case of [inaudible] and the peasants in Van Guang.
Corruption is skyrocketing. Vietnam is one of the most corrupt countries on the planet. There have been a number of different cases of corruption involving officials that have come to light. The [inaudible] trial of the venaline companies led to links between the minister and Deputy Minister of Public Security and with other officials of either higher ranking. The disastrous policy choices of Vietnamese leaders have precipitated the country into a general crisis, politically, economically, culturally, educationally, concerning its health system, and its morality. Villainy displaces goodness in Vietnamese society, the officials are lining their pockets, and the people are growing ever poorer. The country is becoming weaker, the society is rotting, and happiness is drifting away.
I would like to quote the words by Benjamin Ismail, who was the head of the Asia Bureau of Reporters Without Borders. “Hanoi can no longer fool the united nations in the world. This regime is aware of what it is doing more than anyone else, and is aware of how brutal its repressive measures are.”
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, my comments and observations are shared by the majority of Vietnamese, even by the members of the leadership. But for the time being, they cannot speak up. But, hope can overcome fear. The Vietnamese wish to live under a civilised and wholesome political regime, where human rights and civil rights are respected and guaranteed. My desire, my burning desire, is to see the current government start to care about the future of the nation.
Vietnam should follow the Example of Burma and begin to build a pluralist democracy in the spirit of reconciliation and national harmony. In order to make this aspiration come true, tireless and growing efforts are required to fight for democracy and human rights in Vietnam. Solidarity and support by the international community is required. The reviews of human rights by the United Nations, like the UPR that has just taken place, and international conferences like those of today, will certainly have a beneficial effect on the Vietnamese government.
The most recent signs that I’ve seen suggest that the authorities are beginning to understand that gone are the days when totalitarian regimes can allow themselves to repress men and women with impunity, people whose only crime is to dare to express their views. I would like to sincerely thank UN Watch for having allowed me to express my views and I thank you all for your kind attention.