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Opening Speech by Dr. Quan Nguyen on Vietnam Human Rights Day May 11, 2001

Vietnam Human Rights Day May 11, 2001

Opening Remarks of Dr. Quan Q. Nguyen, Chairman of the Organizing Committee on the Seventh Anniversary of Vietnam Human Rights Day May 11, 2001, at the Russell Senate Office Building (Caucus room)

Members of Congress, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my privilege and great honor on behalf of the organizing committee, to salute and welcome all of you here today. Our being here in this historic building of congress, owes a great deal to Senator George Allen, to whom we wish to express our sincere gratitude.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today we gather to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Vietnam Human Rights Day. I wish I could say we are here for a celebration, but that is not so. The human rights situation in Vietnam has not changed, it even getting worse. It is very sad to report to you that at the beginning of the new millenium the people in Vietnam are still being denied of their basic rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom, of association, and million Vietnamese workers still do not have independent unions to protect them. Under the Communist rule, the people in Vietnam have suffered economic depressions, loss of human dignity as well as spiritual demoralization. Vietnam is now one of the most poorest country in the word and it very embarrassing to read the report from the Political and economic consultancy company based in Hong Kong saying that Vietnam ranks first among 12 countries in SE Asia on bribery and corruption. The communist cadre has proven, over time, their inability to lead the country, wasting countless opportunities to set the nation on the road to development and prosperity. They never grasp the importance of investment but knew only how to sell the country resources for cash or credit. They put everything in Vietnam up for sale, including the physical bodies of its citizens. The transport of Vietnamese to work in what amount of sweatshops on the island of Samoa is a very sad example. The Vietnamese government has shut its ears to the cries of its citizens, shut its eyes to the sight of their poverty and closed its heart to their suffering. Instead they cling to the power by using security force. They control the mass media and do not allow any independent newspaper or magazine to circulate. They continue to imprison, to put under house arrest and to harass people who advocate democracy and religious freedom or to voice criticism to the government. In January this year Dr Nguyen Dan Que was denounced by an orchestrated people court in Saigon after issuing a call for: "Getting together for Democracy", last month Norwegian Member of Parliament, Lars Rise, was arrested, interrogated and expelled from Vietnam after he visited the Venerable Thich Quang Do, similarly the Hanoi regime use the Decree CP31 to put Father Nguyen Van Ly, Mr Le Quang Liem, Representative of Hoa Hao religion, Mr Ha Si Phu and several other dissidents under house arrests. They created the State Controlled Churches to control all religions in Vietnam. They discriminate and use the intolerance policy to repress the different ethnic groups in Vietnam. The current protest of the Montagnard tribal people in the Highlands demonstrates their wrong policy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our purposes today are: first, to thank the American people through the United States Congress for publicly supporting our non-violent struggle for human rights. Second, to alert the international community of the ongoing violations of human rights in Vietnam. And thirdly, to show our admiration, support, and solidarity to our brothers and sisters struggling for freedom back home. Let us pledge that we will continue to raise our voices for freedom, democracy and human rights until all Vietnamese are free from the large prison. But remember, we can only do this if we get involved in the political process, locally and nationally, which means we must get out and vote.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to recognize the presence of delegations from China, Burma and Korea. They are here to show solidarity and support for our struggle. We are of different lands, but we share one lofty principle and one noble goal, that of human rights and dignity. We must work together to make our voices heard by the dictators of the world. Together, we will make a difference. We also very happy to welcome for the first time our brothers and sisters from the Highland Region. As I just mentioned to you The Vietnamese Communist regime is currently applying a policy of assimilation and extermination toward different ethnic groups in Vietnam. We strongly condemn this wrong policy and we will give our full support for our brothers and sisters. Before going on with the program, I would like to acknowledge, and thank, the many people who made this event possible. First of all, Senator George Allen for sponsoring the program, but also the many senators and representatives who have given us their support. We also thank the AFL-CIO, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center, the Committee on Human Rights of the Academy of Science, the Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the many other esteemed organizations who are co-sponsors of this event. We are truly grateful to the media from all around the world who provide great coverage.

Our special appreciation goes to the spiritual leaders, the representatives from various associations and organizations, Vietnamese delegations from New Zealand, Canada and Europe, and Vietnamese-Americans from different states. We truly appreciated your commitment in time and travel to be here today.

Let me not forget to thank Senator Allen's staff and all members of our organization who have worked behind the scene to make this event possible.

Thank you.

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