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Director: Bai An Tran, Ph.D.

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Amnesty International protests ARRESTS AND VIOLENCE AT HUMAN RIGHTS PICNICS

OPEN LETTER: ARRESTS AND VIOLENCE AT HUMAN RIGHTS PICNICS

In Hard Times, Open Dissent and Repression Rise in Vietnam

 As dissident voices have multiplied among Vietnam’s 92 million people, the government has tried to crack down. Courts have sentenced numerous bloggers, journalists and activists to prison, yet criticism, especially online, continues seemingly unabated. The government blocks certain Internet sites, but many Vietnamese use software or Web sites to maneuver around the censorship.

40 years since post-war exodus, Vietnamese take to sea again, now hoping to stay in Australia

Nearly 40 years after hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese fled the country’s Communist regime by boat, a growing number are taking to the water again.

This year alone, 460 Vietnamese men, women and children have arrived on Australian shores — more than in the last five years combined. The unexpected spike is drawing fresh scrutiny of Hanoi’s deteriorating human rights record, though Vietnam’s flagging economy may also explain why migrants have been making the risky journey.

Banned Vietnamese Buddhist Group's Pagoda Blockaded

Security forces in southern Vietnam surrounded the pagoda of a banned Buddhist group over the weekend and barred monks from leaving the monastery, in the latest crackdown on the group in the one-party communist state.

Vietnamese seek asylum in Aust due to oppression: lawyer

An increasing number of Vietnamese refugees are seeking asylum in Australia by boat.

Australia's immigration department says it's trying to work out the reason behind the trend, with some 460 Vietnamese arriving by boat since January.

Insight: As economy flounders, Vietnam banks on debt cleanup

Central bank deputy governor Dang Thanh Binh told Reuters a bad-debt bank, the Vietnam Asset Management Corp (VAMC), would be set up imminently with $24 million starting capital.

USCIRF's 2013 Annual Report recommends that 15 countries be designated as the worst violators of religious freedom

USCIRF issued its 2013 Annual Report on April 30. The report highlights the state of religious freedom abroad during 2012 and identifies governments that are the most egregious violators of this fundamental freedom.  USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report includes more countries than ever before -- 29 specifically are addressed and at least 22 additional countries are discussed in thematic sections. 

Young Vietnamese Americans learning the lessons of Black April

For many Vietnamese immigrants, the memory of April 30 — the day Saigon fell to the Communist north — has been passed on only through photos, stories or video clips. Or it's been buried under silence.

The State’s Policy of Repression against the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

Vietnam’s deceptive religious policy, with its mixture of subtlety with sheer brutality, may at first seem hard to fathom. But I call upon Congress and the State Department to look behind Hanoi’s mask, beyond the veneer of State-sponsored freedom of worship, and recognize the full extent of religious repression against the UBCV and other non-recognized religions in Vietnam. These are the issues that the U.S. must raise loud and clear in tomorrow’s dialogue with Hanoi.

Vietnam-UPDATE: Four human rights defenders convicted for alleged dissemination of propaganda against the state

On 24 May 2012, four Vietnamese human rights defenders active in the promotion of economic, social, and cultural rights in Vietnam received sentences for distributing pro-democracy leaflets.

Bishop of Hai Phong in communion with his indignant faithful

Hai Phong Bishop voiced his support and called for justice being done on Peter Doan Van Vuon and his family

Hanoi: attacks continue against Thai Ha parish

Local authorities, hooligans and police intensify attacks, threats and acts of violence against Catholic religious and laity trying to defend their parish from unlawful dispossession.

Vietnam remembers its 117 martyrs. An example of courage for the Church today

A conference organized by the diocese of Saigon in memory of the martyrs canonized by Blessed John Paul II.

What do 7 billion people look like?

Roman Catholic pilgrims press together while following the image of the local saint, Our Lady of Nazareth, as it is paraded Oct. 11, 2009, during the annual Cirio de Nazare procession, the country's biggest religious festival, in Belem, at the mouth of the Amazon River. More than 1 million Catholics, many from communities along the Amazon River's tributaries, converged on Our Lady of Nazareth basilica to participate in the event.

Barbara Walters comments on Jane Fonda

Thank you all.  Many  died in Vietnam for our freedoms.  I did not like Jane Fonda then and I don't like her now.

Why Bin Laden Lost ?

“It doesn’t mean anything”, she says, “because he’s been dead and gone and disappeared for years”.

Vietnamese Communists' Fear Factor is Rising

Vietnam's communist regime has recently intensified its repression of activists and dissidents, cracking down harshly on the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. 

Attack on a diplomat shows Vietnam's contempt for human rights

The writer is a physician and head of the Non-Violent Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam. He has been imprisoned three times, for a total of 20 years, for expressing his democratic beliefs.

Dr. Nguyen Dan Que 

CHO LON, VIETNAM - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - While the world's attention is riveted on the Middle East, democracy continues to struggle to take root in other regions.

Only last summer, Vietnam and the United States celebrated the 15th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. The resumption of ties has proved profitable for Vietnam: The United States is its largest foreign investor, the countries have more than $15 billion in annual bilateral trade, and 13,000 Vietnamese nationals are attending college in America.

Despite these developments, a U.S. official in Vietnam was manhandled by a crowd last month while police stood by. Christian Marchant, a political officer attached to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, was roughed up when he attempted to visit a dissident Roman Catholic priest.

The meeting between Marchant and Nguyen Van Ly had been arranged in advance. Ly told Radio Free Asia that police prevented Marchant from entering his house and pushed him to the ground when he tried to pass them.

Some witnesses said a car door was slammed on Marchant's leg before he was taken away by police. A State Department spokesman said that day that Marchant's injury was not serious but that he was limping after the incident.

The U.S. ambassador in Hanoi, Michael Michalak, called the incident "a flagrant violation of international law." A spokesman for Vietnam's Foreign Ministry has said an investigation is being conducted - but warned that foreign diplomats should observe the laws of their host country.

Perhaps it is Vietnam, though, that needs to familiarize itself with international law. The Vienna Convention in particular makes clear that it is the responsibility of host countries to prevent assaults on foreign diplomats.

Factors contributing to Vietnam's behavior predate the signing of a bilateral trade agreement, Vietnam's entry into the World Trade Organization or even the resumption of diplomatic relations with Washington. At each juncture, Vietnam has promised to respect human rights and comply with international law. Each time, however, Vietnam has learned that it can reap all the benefits without honoring any of its promises.
Two days before the January incident, the hometown paper of Marchant's parents, the Richmond (Ky.) Register, published a profile noting that he was to share the State Department's Human Rights and Democracy Award in February. The article cited a State Department news release calling Marchant "a persuasive advocate for Vietnam's beleaguered dissident community, tirelessly serving as a conduit for imprisoned dissidents, their families, and the outside world."

In the profile, Marchant speaks about his attempts to find common ground with the Vietnamese. But he made clear that the United States could not be silent about abuses. In the past year, he told the paper, 25 Vietnamese have been jailed for criticizing their government.

"The big difference between the two countries," he said, "is that if people in a position of authority in the United States abuse an individual, they go to jail."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has warned Hanoi that while the United States would like to deepen bilateral relations, including trade, Vietnam's human rights record remains a stumbling block. These sorts of statements make officials unpopular with Communist authorities. But the people of Vietnam are grateful to have friends who speak out.

I met Marchant in 2009, when we discussed at length the worsening of human rights violations in Vietnam and what the United States might do. He struck me as an active, dedicated diplomat with a soft voice, a humble heart and a friendly bearing. As a Vietnamese, I am ashamed at what this man has had to endure for doing his job.

A larger question is why 15 years of closer relations have apparently not made an impression on Vietnam's Communist leaders. Their approach is clear: Take American trade and investment, but keep democracy and human rights at bay.

I wonder how the American people will respond to one of their diplomats being roughed up with the apparent approval of Vietnamese authorities. I hope Americans see this for what it is. Why should anyone expect a government that doesn't respect its citizens to respect foreigners? Other governments are watching, wondering how America will respond to this insult.

As for the communists here, the truth is that Hanoi needs Washington much more than Washington needs Hanoi. Vietnam's leaders may live to regret allowing an American official to be treated so badly. But today Vietnam looks out at a re-militarized China and an ongoing dispute in the South China Sea, not to mention domestic woes that include a sluggish economy and an outdated education system.

And if Washington is looking to Vietnam for a long-term partner for peace and regional stability, America would do well to recognize publicly that only a Vietnam that is free and democratic can provide one.

On a Serious Note......Changes are coming

Whether these changes are good or bad, depends in part on how we adapt to them.  But, ready or not, here they come.

Thousands of Catholics protest at Saigon Redemptorist Monastery

Facing the threat of Communists to punish severely Thai Ha parishioners in the up-coming trial, domestic and international protests of Catholics have out-broken.

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