Archive for the ‘APEC’ Category

Secretary Negroponte: Secure The Release of At Least One Jailed In Vietnam

January 13, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 13, 2008

In the endless, general discussions of international diplomacy, sometimes, it seems, absolutely nothing is accomplished.

For that reason, we urge U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who travels to Vietnam this week, to make a commitment to free Le Thi Cong Nhan, a young Ho Chi Minh City attorney in a communist Vietnam jail.

Le Thi Cong Nhan in court in Hanoi on 11 May 2007

Ms Nhan is one of the latest activists to be sent to prison bt communist Vietnam.

In early November, 2006, just before President George W. Bush and other heads of state from around the globe assembled in Hanoi for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC), Ms Nhan’s apartment was surrounded by communist Vietnam police. Her phones and internet were cut off. She was told she was not allowed to leave her home.

Ms Nhan, she was told, had spoken out against human rights abuses in Vietnam, one crime; and then she used the internet to spread her views, her second crime in Vietnam.

The BBC reported on 16 November 2006, “The move seems to be part of a general attempt to prevent anyone from disrupting the summit.”
Nguyễn Minh Triết and First Lady Trần Thị Kim Chi meet with George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the President's Palace, November 2006.

Nguyễn Minh Triết and First Lady Trần Thị Kim Chi meet with George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the President’s Palace, Hanoi, November 2006, during the APEC summit.

The BBC also reported, “Miss Cong Nhan’s mother was told by police that her daughter cannot leave her apartment or talk to foreigners until … after the Apec summit has finished.”

Another factor in Ms Nhan house arrest may have been this: she was scheduled to defend a British woman of Vietnamese origin potentially facing the death penalty for drug smuggling.

Despite communist Vietnam’s verbal assurances that it stands for a free and fair judicial system, defense attorneys who take positions contrary to the state’s are often in for at least ridicule and often harassed or imprisoned.

Soon after Vietnam was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO), on 6 March, 2007, Ms Nhan was arrested and accused of collaborating with overseas pro-democracy advocates and using the internet to spread her views.

On May 10, Ms. Nhan was tried and found guilty of “spreading propaganda intended to undermine Vietnam’s Communist government.”

About a month later the President of Vietnam, Nguyễn Minh Triết, visited with President Bush in the White House.

At their White House meeting on June 22, 2007, President Bush told Mr. Triết , “In order for relations to grow deeper, it’s important for our friends to have a strong commitment to human rights and freedom and democracy.”

Mr. Triết has shown little or no inkling of a reaction to the President of the United States’ urgings.

Left, Presidents Triết and Bush in the White House.
Ms Nhan was sentenced to four years in prison by the Hanoi People’s Court.  She was also ordered to serve several years’ house arrest after the completion of her prison sentence.

So, we ask Mr. Negroponte, as the second most senior full-time U.S. diplomat, to commit to seek the immediate freedom of Ms Nhan.  She is a political prisoner among many others. 

If the communist government of Vietnam is serious about its pledges made before and during the APEC summit in 2006, if communist Vietnam is serious about honoring the pledges it made to gain entry into the WTO and if President Triết is serious about his pledges to President Bush when the two met in Washington D.C. in June, 2007, then the release of Ms Nhan would be a delightful, if symbolic, signal that Vietnam truly intends to become a member of the civilized community of nations.

Just today, January 13, 2008, the President of the United States said during his address in Abu Dhabi, “You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government.”

The president continued, “And you cannot stand up a modern, confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms.”

Words mean nothing unless Vietnam and the United States act upon their words — and their beliefs.


Vietnam Striving to be Good WTO Participant

China, Vietnam: Global Issues

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China’s President Hu; “Superstar”

September 10, 2007

BEIJING (AFP) – President Hu Jintao significantly raised China‘s world diplomatic profile with a robust appearance at the Asia-Pacific summit, state media on Monday quoted his foreign minister as saying.

Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

Hu, who seeks to cement his leadership of China at a key Community Party meeting next month, bolstered ties with other countries and offered substantive proposals on global issues at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meeting, Yang Jiechi said, according to Xinhua news agency.

“The president’s visit has yielded fruitful results in various aspects,” the foreign minister, who also attended the weekend meeting in Sydney, was quoted as saying.

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Bush, Abe, Howard Discuss Security (China Not Invited)

September 8, 2007

By Sachiko Sakamaki and Gemma Daley

Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) — Leaders of the U.S., Japan and Australia met to discuss regional security and climate change, despite China’s protest that it was excluded from the conversations.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the U.S. President George W. Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard discussed security, climate change and other issues over breakfast in Sydney, Australia on the sidelines of a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The three leaders today also discussed expanding APEC to include India, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today ….

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Bush, South Korean President Roh Run Amok

September 7, 2007

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer 14 minutes ago

SYDNEY, Australia – President Bush‘s talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun ended on a sour note Friday not over the war in Iraq, but rather the Korean conflict that ended more than five decades ago.

As Bush began to wind down his stay at the Asia-Pacific summit, Roh challenged Bush to make a declaration to end the Korean War. That conflict ended in a truce in 1953, not a peace treaty, so the two sides technically remain at war.

The snag was the first in a series of sit-downs Bush is having here with leaders from Pacific rim nations. He also spoke Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will meet on Saturday with the leaders of Japan, Indonesia and Australia. Protesters plan a march through the city on Saturday, a day after scuffles broke out between riot police and some demonstrators.

Bush’s talks with Roh focused on the six-nation talks to get North Korea to give up its weapons. Soon after the mini diplomatic incident, Christopher Hill, the U.S. envoy handling the negotiations, announced that nuclear experts from the U.S., China and Russia will travel to North Korea next week to survey nuclear facilities to be shut down.

Bush said that during his talks with Roh, he reaffirmed the U.S. position that when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dismantles his nuclear program, the United States would formally end the Korean War.

Whatever Roh heard Bush say through his translator, it wasn’t good enough.

“I think I did not hear President Bush mention the — a declaration to end the Korean War just now,” Roh said as cameras clicked and television cameras rolled.

Bush said he thought he was being clear, but obliged Roh and restated the U.S. position.

That wasn’t good enough either. “If you could be a little bit clearer in your message,” Roh said.

Bush, now looking irritated….

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China sees ‘danger’ in Taiwan’s U.N. intent

September 7, 2007

By  Joseph Curl and David R. Sands
The Washington Times
September 7, 2007

Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday told President Bush that the next two years will be a time of “high danger” for Taiwan, as the island republic prepares again to apply for a seat in the United Nations.

The U.S. and Chinese presidents made an unusual joint appeal against a planned Taiwanese referendum on the U.N. bid after a bilateral talk on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific regional summit here. Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory, and Washington has long urged both sides to avoid moves that would upset the present diplomatic stalemate.

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Bush, China’s Hu tackle thorny issues

September 6, 2007

By Tom Raum, Associated Press 

SYDNEY, Australia – President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao tackled contentious issues on Thursday, from climate change and Iran and North Korea to recalls of tainted Chinese food and individual freedoms in China.

“He’s an easy man to talk to. I’m very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu,” Bush said after a face-to-face meeting that lasted about 90 minutes on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic summit.

Hu called the discussion “candid and friendly,” even though it touched on deep U.S.-Chinese differences.

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China and climate change take stage at APEC

September 6, 2007

By Bill Tarrant

SYDNEY (Reuters) – China takes the spotlight at the Asia-Pacific leaders forum on Thursday when President Hu Jintao meets U.S. President George W. Bush and Australia‘s prime minister to discuss security, product safety and climate change.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard meets in the morning with Hu, who has had a warm reception since his arrival on Monday when he visited the mining-rich state of Western Australia before heading to Canberra and a tour of a sheep farm.

But in Sydney, police said three rallies are scheduled on Thursday to protest against China’s human rights record….

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U.S. denies N. Korea off terror list

September 4, 2007

By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press
September 4, 2007

SYDNEY, Australia – North Korea remains on a list of states that sponsor terrorism, a senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday, dismissing North Korean claims that Washington decided to remove the designation.

“No, they haven’t been taken off the terrorism list,” Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told Japanese reporters as he arrived in Australia‘s business capital for a meeting of Pacific Rim nations. A State Department press officer separately confirmed the remarks.

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Vietnam: Farmers Protest Government Land Seizures

July 23, 2007

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK (IPS) – Democracy movements in Vietnam, a communist country, appear to have got a sudden fillip through solidarity from hundreds of farmers making their presence felt on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City over the past month.

On Thursday, though, Hanoi’s reaction took a predictable turn when a large police force swooped down on the peaceful demonstrators, tearing down banners and signs, and arresting some of them, states Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based global rights lobby.

”Police surrounded the area, jammed cell phone reception, and carried the demonstrators into waiting vans,” added Viet Tan, a pro-democracy group in the South-east Asian nation, in a statement released shortly after the Jul. 19 crackdown. It estimated that ”over a thousand uniformed and plainclothes police” were used to clear the area of ”about six hundred protestors.”

This act of suppression appears to have been timed to avoid further embarrassment for the Communist Party, which has enjoyed a monopoly on power since the end of United States’ war in Vietnam in the 1970s. Thursday marked the opening of a fresh five-year term for the newly-elected National Assembly, based Hanoi. The farmers had staged their protest outside the building of the legislature’s southern office in Ho Chi Minh City.

The farmers took to the streets on Jun. 26 to demand compensation for lands that they allege were seized by authorities for ‘development’ plans. Officials were also accused of rampant corruption during the protests that had attracted close to 2,000 people, according to some estimates. The farmers who had come from at least nine southern provinces in the Mekong Delta clearly showed preparedness for a long-drawn battle, since they put up tents on the pavements close to where they were making their demands.

”Protests for land rights is not unusual because (farmers) have protested for more than a decade. What is unusual is the scale of the protest. It is larger,” says Robert N. Le, president of the Vietnam Human Rights Network, an independent group based in the U.S. state of California, where many Vietnamese who fled the country during and after the war live. The regime believes that land belongs to the government, ”not the people; people have no ownership of land.”Such protests excite the nascent pro-democracy movement in the country due to the repressive political environment that prevails, he added during an e-mail interview. ”

Currently there is no space for opposition groups to operate and they are struggling to have it.”The farmers also won sympathy from the country’s most famous dissident Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Do, the deputy leader of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

<< Ven. Thich Quang Do

The 78-year-old monk, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times, has spent the past 26 years in detention — or ‘pagoda arrest,’ under which he was prevented from leaving the premises of his monastery in Ho Chi Minh City.

Do and seven other UBCV monks gave the police outside the Thanh Minh Zen monastery the slip on Wednesday and headed to the protest site. ”Thich Quang Do told the farmers that the UBCV shared their plight, and had come to show them that he shared their despair and distress,” says Vo Van Ai, a leading spokesman of the UBCV’s international network.

”It was a deliberate act of civil disobedience. He hoped that his presence would give encouragement to the farmers, help to focus international opinion on their plight,” he revealed in an e-mail interview with IPS. ”He simply could not stand idle before the misery and despair of these peasants who had spent 25 days under the hot sun and rain, without food or sanitation, and with absolutely no reaction by the authorities, no attempt to listen to them or seek remedies.”

Do’s public speech to the farmers was the first of its kind made in the past 26 years. The rare gesture confirmed that the man who has been a thorn in the side of the Vietnamese regime would not easily give up his struggle for justice. Once, he upset Hanoi by urging governments in the West to consider aid to the country after reviewing its human rights record.

Hanoi’s confrontation with the farmers is the latest in a series of repressive acts in the wake of growing number of individuals challenging the regime’s hold on power. April 2006 saw the birth of one group, which published its ”Manifesto for Freedom and Democracy” and issued an ”Appeal for Freedom of Political Association.” This group, which goes under the name Bloc 8406 — for the date, month and the year it was launched — includes an academic, a writer and a priest as its leaders.

”The Internet has played a crucial role in the recent emergence of a number of pro-democracy initiatives in Viet Nam and amongst exiled dissidents,” says Brittis Edman, of Amnesty International (AI), the international rights lobby. ”Although the authorities try to control it, the Internet has facilitated a lot of discussions about issues previously off-limits. The on-line democracy movement Bloc 8406 is one such initiative, unauthorized unions and political parties are other examples.

”The initial reaction by Hanoi to such opposition voices was not harsh,” adds the South-east Asia researcher for AI in an interview. “Such accommodation was attributed to the country being in the glare of the international media having gained accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2006 and hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit the same year.”

But since the APEC summit last November ”there has been a serious crackdown against lawyers, trade unionists, religious leaders and Internet dissidents, who have been detained or imprisoned, harassed, or been under surveillance,” Edman reveals. ”The rights to freedom of expression and assembly are denied individuals and groups that the authorities — at their whim — deem intolerable.”

Vietnam: Some Suspect Up to 100 Dead in Protest Movement

Vietnam: U.S. Congresswoman Expresses Concern