22 August 1995
VIETNAM: IMPRISONMENT OF POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS DISSIDENTS
The Australian Government deplores the recent imprisonment of political and religious dissidents in Vietnam, including Professor Nguyen Dinh Huy and the Venerable Thich Quang Do.
Professor Huy, leader of the political group 'Movement to Unite the People and Build Democracy' in Vietnam was convicted of "very serious violations of national sovereignty and national security", and was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. Other members of the group also received jail terms ranging from four to 14 years.
The Venerable Thich Quang Do, a senior leader of the dissident Vietnam Unified Buddhist Church, was convicted of "undermining the policy of unity" and "abusing democratic rights", and was sentenced to five years jail term. Five other people related to the case received sentences ranging from two years surveillance to five years jail.
The Australian Government is concerned that these people were imprisoned for the non-violent expression of political and other beliefs, which is contrary to internationally accepted standards embodied in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a party.
The Australian Government has raised human rights issues, including the above cases, with the Vietnamese Government at the highest level. Most recently, Prime Minister Keating and Acting Foreign Minister Bilney raised these concerns with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Mr Do Muoi, during the General Secretary's visit to Australia.
The Australian Government calls on Vietnam to grant amnesty to political prisoners on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of independence of Vietnam in September this year.
I have instructed the Australian Embassy in Hanoi to convey these concerns to the Vietnamese authorities. The Government will continue to follow these disturbing developments closely.