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    » 01/25/2013, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Vietnamese intellectuals and Catholics sign a petition for the end to single party rule



    At least 800 Vietnamese personalities call for constitutional reform, with the separation of state powers. Appeal joined by Bishop of Vinh and vicar general of Saigon. Bishop Nguyen Thai Hop calls for "full respect for religious freedom." A few sites that have re-published the petition censored by the government.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of intellectuals, religious leaders and political leaders in Vietnam have signed an online petition, which call for a revision of the national Constitution and a multi-party system, separating the executive, legislative and judicial powers. Among the points for reform, is also the reform of land ownership (now in the hands of the State) and the demand for full religious freedom still subject - in the practice of worship - to state control. Among the more than 800 signatories are also prominent Catholic Church figures: among them the Bishop of Vinh Msgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, Fr. Mary Joseph Le Quoc Thang of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace and Fr. Huynh Cong Minh John Baptist, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.

    Published recently by a popular Vietnamese site, the petition stems from an appeal made by the same communist authorities in Hanoi, for "public suggestions" to amend the Constitution. Among those who signed the document is the former Minister of Justice Nguyen Dinh Loc who states "it is obvious that changes must be made," and it is "only to understand to what extent."

    The current basic charter of the State was enacted in 1992, but there have been no changes of any kind in at least 10 years, despite the events and changes that have marked the recent history of Vietnam. "Now - said the former state official in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) - it is time for radical changes" among which he includes also the name of the country, the current Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the previous "Democratic Republic of the Vietnam".

    The authorities report that there is time until March 31 to submit comments on the constitutional review process, which should be promulgated - the new form - in the month of May. However, some "sensitive" points such as multi-party elections, improvements in land ownership rights - with a return to the Charter of 1946 - and other elements of tension are "excluded" from debate. Local sources also add that "many websites [critical of the Communist leadership] that published the petition were censored."

    At the forefront in the promotion of the on-line petition were faithful and figures of the Vietnamese Catholic Church, including the Bishop of Vinh in central Vietnam. Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop emphasizes that "it is the right of the people, not only of a political party" to address the Constitution, which must then be "submitted to a popular referendum" before the entry into force. The prelate hopes that the new formula provides "more religious freedom in the country" and that it will follow UN guidelines, Vietnam being "party to the International Covenant on Human Rights." "The Constitution - said the bishop - should be modified for Vietnam to integrate better internationally, as well as to comply with the conventions it has signed."

     

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    See also

    08/02/2013 VIETNAM
    Hanoi, an end to single party rule: petition filed in Parliament
    A delegation of 15 signatories to the document handed to the representatives of the Assembly. In the text there are proposals to amend the "foundation" of the regime. The Communist Party as a political force "other" and put to a vote of the electorate. Amendments to the concept of sovereignty and property. Cautious optimism among the promoters.

    08/03/2013 VIETNAM
    Hanoi against bishops and reformists to save one-party state
    Government, party and military leaders warn against proposals of constitutional reform with the "wrong content." Parliamentary speaker calls for struggle against those who promote "wrong ideas". Army paper warns against opportunists and "hostile" reactionary forces that are opposed to party and state.

    06/08/2012 INDIA - UNITED STATES
    Activists warn religious freedom in "serious danger" in India
    In the 2012 U.S. State Department report, India is among the nations "under observation". China, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia, countries of "particular concern". GCIC President: The Constitution guarantees the rights but it is "rejected". Atheist activist in Washington: we do not need lists, but "concrete support" for social peace.

    12/06/2009 VIETNAM
    Violations of religious freedom on the rise in Vietnam
    A priest is banned from carrying out his pastoral work because “there is no need for religion” among his parishioners. Another one is warned by his parishioners that his life is in danger. Another still is stopped without reason at the airport and is told that he will be further interrogated.

    30/01/2013 VIETNAM
    Vinh bishop appeals for support to petition to end one-party system
    The diocese issues a statement calling on the faithful to commit to the country's development. People want "equality, freedom and democracy". Christians too must be "responsible citizens." Some 3,500 people sign in a few days, including the bishop of Than Hoa, vice president of the Bishops' Council.



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