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New paper updates awarenesss of Vietnam human rights situation

The Sydney-based Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre has published a research paper that highlights recent threats to minority groups in Vietnam but notes that its Government has been increasingly willing to discuss human rights issues.

Uniya director Sr Patty Fawkner said Vietnam has experienced revolutionary change in its political and economic systems over the past decades.

"Uniya's paper provides an overview of the historical, political and legal situation in Vietnam, discusses some of the key human rights challenges facing Vietnam, and considers the issues these challenges raise for Australia as a member of this region and trading partner of Vietnam," she said. "Australia is developing a positive bilateral relationship with Vietnam. This is despite the political, ethnic and religious differences between our two countries and Australia's participation in the Vietnam war."

The paper, part of a series on various countries in the region in including the Solomon Islands, was written by lawyer and researcher Lyndall Stoyles.

It notes the recent conduct of the Vietnamese authorities in persecuting minority groups on the basis of preventing activities which undermine "national unity", specifically the Montagnards of the country's central highlands, who have been fleeing to Cambodia as refugees.

But on the positive side, it says Vietnam has been increasingly willing to discuss human rights issues, particularly those relating to technical and training issues with the United Nations and countries, including Australia. The paper says this has led to the commencement of an annual dialogue between Australia and Vietnam on human rights, which have been taking place since May 2002, with the most recent meeting taking place in Hanoi on 24 June 2004.

"Australia has the capacity to develop a stronger and more mature relationship with Vietnam, not just as means of pursuing positive trade outcomes but also of promoting political and civil rights practices in Vietnam. This, however, requires that Australia's own human rights record is blameless", she said.

Uniya releases paper on Vietnam's human rights situation (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre 12/11/04)

View on Vietnam (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre 12/11/04)
Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre

Vietnamese Bishops Fear New Threat to Religious Liberty (Zenit 10/11/04)
New law to stifle religious freedom ( 8/11/04)
New Ordinance on Religions does not provide freedom, says the Archbishop of HuÍ ( 8/11/04)
Flow of Vietnamese Montagnard refugees to Cambodia: UNHCR offers assistance (Fides 6/11/04)
Vietnam defends religious freedom record criticized from USA ( 27/9/04)
To be a person ready to dialogue with all, a person who promotes the values of freedom justice and solidarity: the work of a Bishop in Vietnam (Fides 22/9/04)
Religion in Vietnam faces new restraints says Catholic archbishop (Ecumenical News International 15/11/04)

16 Nov 2004