10/23/2008, 00.00
EU - VIETNAM

Europe asks Hanoi to end "systematic violation" of human rights

A resolution of the European parliament also makes specific reference to religious freedom, and to the actions of the authorities against "Catholic parishioners," Buddhist monks, and highlanders

Strasbourg (AsiaNews) - The European parliament is asking that, before the conclusion of the new EU-Vietnam partnership and cooperation agreement, Hanoi put an end to the systematic violation of democracy and human rights. The resolution was approved yesterday by a wide majority - 479 votes in favor, 21 opposed, and 4 abstentions - and calls upon the Commission and Council to ask Vietnam to "stop the current systematic violation of democracy and human rights."

The European parliament asks for the liberation of political and religious dissidents, guarantees of freedom of expression, the press, and worship, the restitution of confiscated ecclesiastical property, and, finally, that UN representatives be permitted to meet with political and religious prisoners, including the highlanders. A statement released from Strasbourg specifies that the country must "repeal provisions in Vietnamese law that criminalise dissent and certain religious activities on the basis of imprecisely defined ‘national security’ crimes, and end the Vietnamese government’s censorship and control over the domestic media."

The parliament further suggests asking the Vietnamese government "to release all people imprisoned or detained for the peaceful expression of political or religious beliefs," including more than 300 Christian highlanders, in addition to Khmer Krom Buddhist monks, human rights activists, authors of petitions on land ownership rights, cyber dissidents, labor representatives, Catholic parishioners, and followers of the Hoa Hoa Buddhist Church and of the Cao Dai religion.

Hanoi is also expected to overturn immediately and completely the house arrests of Thich Quang Do, the supreme patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, and of Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn, and to permit independent religious organizations to carry out their activities freely and without government interference, in addition to giving back confiscated ecclesiastical properties and pagodas and restoring the legal status of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.

The parliament finally asks the Vietnamese government to cooperate actively with UN agencies on human rights, inviting the special relator on religious tolerance and the working group on arbitrary detention to go to Vietnam and guaranteeing officials and special relators of the United Nations unlimited access to all areas of the country. This also includes the central and northern high plains, where they are expected to be allowed to have private talks with political and religious prisoners and detainees, in addition to the highlanders who have returned from Cambodia to Vietnam and are asking for asylum.

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