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Hon. David Kilgour
Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), 2002-2003
Vietnamese embassy demonstration
470 Wilbrod St., Ottawa
April 17, 2011

Congratulations to the Vietnamese Canadian Federation, and other community organizations in Sherbrooke, Montreal, Toronto, Kitchener, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton, for supporting the struggle for democracy and freedom in Vietnam with this large event, following the breath-takingly similar ones across North Africa and the Middle East.

So much of what had been part the “Authoritarian International” around the world has in successive waves since the 1970s evolved into representative democracies, including many countries in Asia.

Rule of Law

The struggle for the rule of law, independent judges, freedom of speech/religion and so on across Vietnam has been going on since the current regime took over in 1975.

Father Nguyen Van Ly (Bloc 8406); Dr. Nguyen Dan Que; lawyers Le Thi Cong Nhan, Dr.Cu Huy Ha Vu and Nguyen Van Dai; writers Duong Thu Huong, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy; blogger Dieu Cay, informatics expert Nguyen Tien Trung, former Army Colonel Tran Anh Kim and other democrats have courageously advocated political reform in Vietnam. Their voices were all muzzled by the unelected and thus illegitimate Vietnamese government; they were punished with severe prison sentences after ‘trials’ which met no international standard for elemental justice.

How long will the Vietnamese people continue to suffer under a totalitarian dictatorship? The world should not conduct “business as usual” with Hanoi and similar regimes anywhere.

Arab and Western governments appear now to be intervening in Libya to ensure that Gaddafi’s dictatorship and “42 years of Hell” for Libyans ends and he and his entire family leave. The responsible international community should continue to voice concerns and seek to assist peoples who are living under dictatorships in their struggles for fulfilled lives and fundamental rights.

Dr. Nguyen Dan Que

Let’s remember what Dr. Nguyen Dan Que said in his appeal of February 24 earlier this year:

    “Let’s take to the streets to bring an end this corrupt and exploitative dictatorship and to demand jobs, food, shelter, education, healthcare. Let’s fight against oppression. Let’s fight against injustice.”

Tunisians and Egyptians had their Jasmine Revolution; Ukrainians had their Orange one. Why should brave Vietnamese not have your own “Bamboo Revolution”? I commend you for keeping the torch of freedom lit. Human dignity will prevail in Vietnam.

Seizure of Vietnamese Islands by China

The second reason for all of us coming today is to protest the invasion and occupation of the Paracels and Spratly Islands by soldiers of China in 1974 and 1988. These islands previously belonged to the Republic of Vietnam; the seizure violated Art. 4 of the U.N. Charter, which bans the taking of territory by violence. It also violated the Final Act of the Paris International Conference on Vietnam and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea in that seven states border the South China Sea. One consequence is that it cannot in international law be considered an “internal” water for any of the seven.

Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu

The third is to condemn the show trial and sentencing of lawyer Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu. Dr. Vu was put on trial in Hanoi on April 4 for “anti-state propaganda activities”. In fact, what he did was call for the abolition of Article 4 of the Vietnamese constitution, which gives the Party absolute power over the Vietnamese people.

At trial, Dr. Vu’s lawyers asked the court to produce the allegedly incriminating documents mentioned in the indictment, as provided for in Article 214 of Vietnamese Criminal Code. Their request was denied so they walked out in protest over the court’s violation of the law.

Dr. Vu’s request to defend himself was also ignored and he was hastily condemned to seven years in jail and three years of house detention. The way Dr. Vu was tried and sentenced illustrates that the Vietnamese party-state disregards its own laws in dealing with political opponents and has no legal basis to convict them.

If there is, as here, no progress towards the rule of law, why are Canadian taxpayers paying to train Vietnamese judges and lawyers? As with Chinese ‘judges’, the ones in Vietnam appear neither able nor willing to apply what they have learned from Canada. I join with The Vietnamese Canadian Federation to urge whichever Canadian government is elected on May 2nd to cancel its training program for Vietnamese lawyers and judges. It’s a waste of our tax money.

All of us here today ask the Canadian government to protest against this abuse of justice by the Vietnamese party-state and to demand an immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Vu and all other dissidents who are currently imprisoned for advocating peaceful democratic reform.

Long live a Free Vietnam.

Thank you.

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