The standing office of the Government Steering Committee for Human Rights on July 30 celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first issue of Vietnam Human Rights Magazine.
According to the VOV news, Vietnam Human Rights Magazine is considered as the leading journal on human rights in Vietnam with many articles reflecting the achievements of ensuring human rights in Vietnam in all fields. Since then, it has contributed to creating consensus in public opinion, making international friends better understand the situation of human rights in Vietnam.
In addition, the articles published in Vietnam Human Rights Magazine are also researching and refuting the allegations of slander and misrepresentation by hostile forces or combined to provide information on the human rights situation in the world, the views of the international community on human rights issues to guide public opinion, etc.
Talking to RFA on July 30, activist Tran Bang from Saigon expressed his surprise about this incident:
“The first time I heard about Human Rights Magazine, this was very surprising. It must be like all things the communist regime is using to cheat the world, such as the civil society for example. There are also many civil society organizations led by the party, under the direction of the Communist Party of Vietnam. So opposing voices or government critics have no place in the state-controlled civil society organizations. All Vietnamese newspapers and magazines are under the supervision of the party’s Central Commission on Education and Propaganda, the Ministry of Information – Communications and the Ministry of Culture – Sports – Tourism, all under the ruling party. It is funny that there is Human Rights Magazine but people don’t have the right to freedom of expression and assembly.”
Sharing the same point, Dr. Nguyen Quang A, a civil society activist in Hanoi, also said that he had never read the Human Rights Magazine and probably most Vietnamese have never. He stated:
“I think their job is that they keep propaganda for the party. It is true that human rights in Vietnam are seriously violated now, but they always say that their human rights record is very good because they have eliminated poverty to millions of people … then they said Vietnamese people have all the rights. It is regular propaganda of a dictatorial regime for a long time.”
With his own experience of being imprisoned for his blog posts, independent journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, a former human rights prisoner, now in Saigon thinks that this is a new step of the Hanoi government to cover reverse reality:
“They celebrated 10 years in the current context when they mentioned the issue to show that Vietnam is improving human rights, but I think that can not fool anyone. Because this human rights magazine was born 10 years ago but I have never seen it with my eyes and hold it. That is to say, it is not attractive because it does not reflect the serious issues that occur on human rights in Vietnam. In fact, in the past 10 years, human rights issues have been falling down dramatically in all fields: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of movement … The anniversary of the journal is formal while human rights violations are still rampant in Vietnam.”
On March 11, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo published a comprehensive annual report on human rights worldwide. In particular, the US continues to criticize Vietnam’s bad human rights record in 2019 in a range of areas.
On June 23, in its 2019 Report on political prisoners and at-risk activists in Vietnam, a human rights non-governmental organization called Project 88 said that the Hanoi government in 2019 increased its repression and imprisoned many people just because they expressed their peaceful opinions online on economic and social issues.
Specifically, 41 people in Vietnam were arrested in 2019 for their peaceful activities. The Project 88 report assessed that this number was lower than the number of 148 people arrested in 2018 when massive protests erupted in many parts of Vietnam to protest against the bills on Special Economic Zone and Cyber Security.
Most recently, on July 13, 10 international civil society organizations issued a joint letter calling on the Vietnamese government to stop the persecution of dissidents, release prisoners of conscience and respect its international commitments on human rights that Hanoi has signed.
The open letter was signed by representatives of 10 organizations including Amnesty International, Defend the Defenders, PEN America’s Expression of Freedom Programs, International Publishers’ Association, Vietnam Human Rights Network, VOICE, Safeguards Defenders, People In Need, Project 88, and democracy activist William Nguyen.
Signed representatives of 10 organizations have expressed concerns about the escalating repression of the Vietnamese government to the independent media and dissidents before the 13th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam slated for January 2021.
As Vietnam’s human rights situation is worsening and the regime is criticized worldwide, Dr. Nguyen Quang A said that the purpose of the Human Rights Magazine is for the regime to cheat the international community.
According to journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, Vietnam’s Human Rights Magazine is similar to the People’s newspapers, the People’s Army, the Communist Magazine which are distributed to senior state officials but it is unclear whether they have read it.
In addition, journalist Nguyen Ngoc Ga also expressed doubts about whether the content of Human Rights Magazine published whether it reflected the reality of the situation in the country or as the press praised:
“I remember Mr. Nguyen Van Huong was the first person to write in the first issue of Human Rights Magazine in 2010 as Deputy Minister of Public Security. An article titled ‘Understanding Vietnamese Human Rights,’ Mr. Huong’s way of questioning is wrong because human rights have universal values, not human rights in Vietnam. At the same time, in this article, Mr. Nguyen Van Huong equates the issue of human rights with the right to eat. That is te right for animal, not human rights.”
Dr. Nguyen Quang A also said that the head of the Human Rights Magazine was police general Nguyen Van Huong, who trampled on human rights and wrote about human rights.
Within just over a month from May 21 to June 24, the Hanoi government arrested many independent journalists and civil activists posting information on social networks. Specifically, writer Pham Chi Thanh with penname Pham Thanh, journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy who is vice chairman of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, Mr. Le Huu Minh Tuan- member of Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, land petitioner and former prisoner of conscience Can Thi Theu and her two sons Trinh Ba Phuong and Trinh Ba Tu, and land petitioner Nguyen Thi Tam.
Therefore, Nguyen Ngoc Gia said that human rights in Vietnam cannot be improved if the one-party totalitarian regime in Vietnam still exists.
“The pleadings and excuses of the Vietnamese communist authorities have no value in the international arena and even within Vietnam.”