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.
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
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."
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."