VNHRC: Vietnam succeeded in becoming a full member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007. Since then, the Vietnamese Government has pursued the policy of suppression on human right activists as well as those who advocate pluralism and multi-party system. Consequently, more than 100 people have been jailed and charged, whose sentences mount up to hundreds of years in prison and house arrest.Despite such crack-downs, urges for freedom, democracy and human right respect have been increasing. The people’s pressure for political and legal reforms is burdening on the communist government. At the same time, they have had to eat their own fruits in the relations with the US and the international community, as a result of Vietnam’s bad records in human right violation. This forces them to improve their rough image in the eyes of the international community. For the first time ever, the communist government of Vietnam has invited Mr. Frank Jannuzi, Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, to the country.
Mr. Frank Jannuzi used to serve former senator Joe Biden, now Vice President of the US, and former senator John Kerry, now US Secretary of the State. He also has close contacts with Senator John McCain and US government agencies.
Before the visit, Mr. Frank Jannuzi had requested to the Vietnamese government that he would not just work with government agencies, but also meet human right and democracy activists. He asked to talk to lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and doctor Pham Hong Son, and the government had accepted.
In the morning of February 27th, 2013, the meeting was held at Metropol Hanoi Hotel. Apart from Frank Jannuzi, there were representatives from the US Embassy, including Political Counsellor Mark Lambert and Political Officer Michael Orona. Vietnamese human right and democracy activists included lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and doctor Pham Hong Son.
In the meeting, Frank Jannuzi said his visit aimed to support and to establish human right dialogues between the US and Vietnam, expanding different channels for the dialogues to improve human right situation in Vietnam, and helping the Vietnamese to exercise basic human rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association. He believed this would help enhance US-Vietnamese cooperation and relations. Jannuzi hoped to establish permanent representative of the Amnesty International USA in Vietnam. He also wanted a comprehensive survey on human right issues in Vietnam. In the past, AI USA used to conduct human right surveys in Cambodia and Myanmar.
Regarding talks with Vietnamese government agencies, Frank Jannuzi said Vietnamese officials showed enthusiasm and openness in the meetings. They were, he said, willing to hold dialogues with the US in many areas, even the most sensitive issues of human right and land disputes. They promised to respect human rights, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association.
Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and doctor Pham Hong Son, on behalf of Vietnamese human right and democracy activists, highlighted that if human right issues in Vietnam were to be addressed, more than 90 million Vietnamese people would enjoy freedom and equality. This would benefit not just the Vietnamese people but also the US and Pacific-Asian peace and prosperity. Lawyer Dai added that while the communist government had only sought to build strategic partnership with the US, their people wanted to go further by establishing US-Vietnamese alliance.
Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and doctor Pham Hong Son also discussed other issues with US guests. In his conclusive statement, Nguyen Van Dai urged Frank Jannuzi, AI USA, and US Congress and Government agencies to pressurize the Vietnamese government to:
1/ release all political and religious prisoners;
2/ release from house arrest those who have completed their prison term;
3/ stop harassment of bloggers, human right and democracy activists;
4/ repeal travel restriction of bloggers, human right and democracy activists;
5/ allow private media ownership and non-communist political parties.
The one-hour meeting ended with attendants satisfied with the achievements, and Frank Jannuzi expressed his hope to invite doctor Pham Hong Son to Washington DC.
Prior to the meeting, on December 12th, 2012, the German Embassy had invited lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and doctor Pham Hong Son to lunch and discussion with Human Rights Commissioner Markus Loening.