On the Anniversary of the Binh Dinh crack-down on the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam: Fifth ASEM Summit in Hanoi : 112 Euro MPs call for the immediate release of Buddhist dissidents Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do


FIDH

In an Open Letter to the Presidency of the European Union, 112 prominent Members of the European Parliament from all political parties have urged the EU to place human rights, in particular human rights in Vietnam, “at the centre of discussions at the ASEM Summit in Hanoi”, and called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Buddhist dissidents Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do, leaders of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) and six other members of the UBCV leadership.

In the Open Letter, the Euro MPs also expressed their deep concern on the lack of democracy and press freedom at the ASEM 5 People’s Forum in Hanoi in September 2004, condemning “the deliberate exclusion of Vietnamese civil society and the banning of access to the national and international press”.

“This Open Letter, launched by such a wide cross-section of MEPs, shows a real movement of indignation at the abysmal human rights situation in Vietnam, host country of this ASEM Summit”
, said Vo Van Ai, President of the Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, noting that the appeal was endorsed by many leading figures of the EP’s enlarged 25-country membership. Signatures include Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament ; Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the EP’s largest political group, the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats ; Harlem Desir, Magda Kosane Kovacs, Pasqualina Napoletano and Jan Wiersma, Vice-Presidents of the European Socialist Party ; Graham Watson, President of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe ; Monica Frassoni and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Co-Presidents of the Greens/European Free Alliance ; Elmar Brok, President of the EP Foreign Affairs Commission ; Helene Flautre, Charles Tannock and Johan Van Hecke, President and Vice-Presidents of the EP Sub-Commission on Human Rights ; former EU Commissioner Emma Bonino and Marco Pannella, leaders of the Transnational Radical ; Max van den Berg, Vice-President of the EP Commission for Development ; former Lithuanian Head of State Vytautas Landsbergis ; Prof. Bronislaw Geremek, historian and former Polish Foreign Minister ; and Alain Lamassourez, former Minister (France).

Noting that the ASEM Summit opens on 8 October, anniversary of the “most brutal and pervasive crackdown launched by the Vietnamese authorities against the banned UBCV”, the MEPs deplored that, in spite of an Urgent EP Resolution on 20 Novemb er 2003 and repeated international appeals, “Vietnam has taken no steps to free these men”. Both UBCV leaders “have spent more than 23 years in detention for their nonviolent advocacy of religious freedom, democracy and human rights”.

The UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and his Deputy Thich Quang Do are currently detained without trial on charges of “possessing state secrets”, but the MEPs said they believed “their sole “crime” is that of steadfastly defending religious freedom and human rights.”

The MEPs recalled that human rights are enshrined in the 1995 EU-Vietnam Cooperation Agreement, and are essential to the ASEM process, which links sustainable development with democratic development and the rule of law. “As an ASEM member and host of this Fifth ASEM Summit, Vietnam has a double obligation to uphold these binding principles”, they said.

The 112 MEPs sent the Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Luxemburg, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, who will preside the ASEM Summit to the Dutch Premier Jan Peter Balkanende and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Blot (the Netherlands currently holds the EP Presidency), the President of the European Commission and heads of state of several EU member countries (see full text of the Open Letter and signatures below).

OPEN LETTER TO THE EUROPEAN UNION FOR THE FIFTH ASEM SUMMIT IN HANOI (8-9 October 2004)


“We the undersigned, Members of the European Parliament, are deeply concerned by the Vietnamese government’s decision to separate, for the very first time, the official ASEM Summit and the ASEM People’s Forum, thus excluding civil society and separating Asian and European NGOs from their governments. We further condemn the deliberate exclusion of Vietnamese civil society from attending the Forum and the banning of access to the national and international press.

“We are also deeply disturbed by the continued detention of Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and the Venerable Thich Quang Do, prominent dissidents and leaders of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV). We urge the European Union and EU member states to call for their urgent release at the forthcoming Fifth Summit of ASEM leaders in Hanoi.

“The ASEM Summit, which gathers heads of state from the 25 EU members, China, Japan, South Korea, 10 ASEAN nations and the head of the European Commission, will be held on 8-9 October 2004. This date marks the sombre anniversary of a most brutal and pervasive crackdown launched by the Vietnamese authorities against the banned UBCV.

“Exactly one year ago, on 8 October 2003, Security Police intercepted UBCV monks as they left the Nguyen Thieu Monastery in Binh Dinh province, where they had held a peaceful assembly to elect a new leadership, following promises of increased religious tolerance made by Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. After a tense 10-hour standoff, in which 1,000 Buddhists formed a human wall around the monks’ vehicle and Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do staged a hunger strike inside, Police arrested 11 members of the new UBCV leadership. Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang (87) and his Deputy, Nobel Peace prize nominee Thich Quang Do (76), were placed under house arrest without trial. They were charged of “possessing state secrets”, but we believe that their sole “crime” was that of steadfastly defending religious freedom and human rights. Venerable Thich Thien Hanh, Thich Tue Sy, Thich Vien Dinh, Thich Thanh Huyen, Thich Nguyen Ly and Thich Dong Tho were also condemned to 2 years administrative detention. Hundreds of UBCV pagodas were placed under surveillance by Security Police and UBCV followers all over the country were intimidated and harassed.

“The European Parliament condemned the crackdown and called for the immediate release of the UBCV leaders in a “Resolution on Religious Freedom in Vietnam” (20 November 2003). Despite this strong outcry, and despite its binding pledge to respect human rights under the 1995 EU-Vietnam Cooperation Agreement, Vietnam took no steps to free these men. Today, Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do are detained in total isolation. They have both spent more than 23 years in detention for their nonviolent advocacy of religious freedom, democracy and human rights.

“The aim of the ASEM process is to foster dialogue and development between Europe and Asia, based on the conviction that “sustainable trade, investment and economic development cannot be achieved in the absence of the development of democracy, the rule of law, civil society and human rights” (EP Resolution on ASEM, 1998). As an ASEM member and host of this Fifth ASEM Summit, Vietnam has a double obligation to uphold these binding principles.

“We therefore call upon EU heads of State and governments, the EU Presidency and the European Commission to place human rights firmly at the centre of discussions at the ASEM Summit in Hanoi, and specifically to press for the immediate and unconditional release of UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang, Thich Quang Do, the 6 UBCV leaders and all other Vietnamese citizens detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of opinion, religion, expression and association”.

Signatories :

Mr Alexander Nuno ALVARO
Mr Alfonso ANDRIA
Mr Kader ARIF
Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENE
Ms Margrete AUKEN
Ms Irena BELOHORSKÁ
Mr Max van den BERG
Ms Jana BOBOŠÍKOVÁ
Mr Elmar BROK
Ms Emma BONINO
Mr Mihael BREJC
Ms Frederika M.J. BREPOELS
Mr Jan BREZINA
Ms Kathalijne Maria BUITENWEG
Ms Marie-Arlette CARLOTTI
Mr Paulo CASACA
Mr Michael CASHMAN
Ms Charlotte CEDERSCHIÖLD
Mr Daniel COHN-BENDIT
Mr Richard CORBETT
Mr Marek Aleksander CZARNECKI
Mr Ryszard CZARNECKI
Mr Chris DAVIES
Mr Harlem DÉSIR
Mr Panayiotis DEMETRIOU
Mr Nirj DEVA
Mr Agustín DÍAZ DE MERA GARCÍA CONSUEGRA
Mr Gintaras DIDŽIOKAS
Ms Rosa M. DÍEZ GONZÁLEZ
Mr Antonio DI PIETRO
Mr Árpád DUKA-ZÓLYOMI
Mr Antoine DUQUESNE
Ms Lena EK
Mr Carlo FATUZZO
Ms Hélène FLAUTRE
Ms Anna Elzbieta FOTYGA
Ms Monica FRASSONI
Mr Michael GAHLER
Ms Kinga GÁL
Mr Patrick GAUBERT
Mr Jas GAWRONSKI
Mr Ignasi GUARDANS CAMBÓ
Mr Bronislaw GEREMEK
Ms Ana Maria GOMES
Ms Lilli GRUBER
Ms Fiona Jane HALL
Mr Malcolm HARBOUR
Ms Satu HASSI
Ms Adeline HAZAN
Mr Roger HELMER
Ms Jeanine HENNIS-PLASSCHAERT
Ms Sophia Helena in 't VELD
Ms Marie Anne ISLER BÉGUIN*
Mr Jelko KACIN
Ms Piia-Noora KAUPPI
Ms Ewa KLAMT
Mr Bogdan Adam KLICH
Ms Silvana KOCH-MEHRIN
Ms Magda KÓSÁNÉ KOVÁCS
Ms Eija-Riitta Anneli KORHOLA
Mr Ole KRARUP
Mr Wieslaw Stefan KUC
Mr Joost LAGENDIJK
Mr Alain LAMASSOURE
Ms Jean Denise LAMBERT
Mr Vytautas LANDSBERGIS
Mr Romano Maria LA RUSSA
Mr Alain LIPIETZ
Ms Pia Elda LOCATELLI
Ms Caroline LUCAS
Baroness Sarah LUDFORD
Mr Albert Jan MAAT
Mr Edward H.C. McMILLAN-SCOTT
Ms Jamila MADEIRA*
Ms Cecilia MALMSTRÖM
Mr David W. MARTIN
Ms Edith MASTENBROEK
Mr Hans-Peter MAYER
Mr Francesco MUSOTTO
Ms Pasqualina NAPOLETANO
Mr Cem ÖZDEMIR
Mr Justas Vincas PALECKIS
Mr Marco PANNELLA
Mr Rihards PIKS
Mr Pawel Bartlomiej PISKORSKI
Mr Józef PINIOR
Mr Hans-Gert POETTERING
Mr José Javier POMÉS RUIZ
Mr Bernd POSSELT
Ms Frédérique RIES
Ms Zuzana ROITHOVÁ
Mr Raül ROMEVA RUEDA
Mr Dariusz Kajetan ROSATI
Mr Libor ROUCEK
Ms Martine ROURE
Mr Leopold Józef RUTOWICZ
Mr José Ignacio SALAFRANCA SÁNCHEZ-NEYRA
Ms Amalia SARTORI
Ms Luciana SBARBATI
Mr Frithjof SCHMIDT
Ms Gitte SEEBERG
Mr István SZENT-IVÁNYI
Dr Charles TANNOCK
Ms Patrizia TOIA
Mr Johan VAN HECKE
Mr Daniel VARELA SUANZES-CARPEGNA
Mr Ari VATANEN
Mr Graham R. WATSON
Mr Jan Marinus WIERSMA
Mr Luis YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO GARCÍA
Mr Mauro ZANI
Mr Stefano ZAPPALA'