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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2005

To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in the Australian Federal Parliament

The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia draws to the attention of the Senate that

1.Even as Communism is disintegrating elsewhere around the globe, Vietnam's 72 million people still suffer under communist totalitarianism.

2.Although there have been some moves towards economic development by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (GOSRV) in recent years to only marginally alleviate depressed economic conditions, they have not led towards political liberalisation or improved human rights records. People are imprisoned or kept under house-arrest without charge or trial for the peaceful expression of their beliefs and alternative points of view. There continue to be severe restrictions on freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, association and movement, workers' rights and the right to vote for a government of their choice.

3.The major religions in Vietnam have been subjected to the surrounding, isolating, oppressing, terrorising, penetrating and interfering policies of the Vietnamese Communist Party, the supreme political body of the GOSRV. In particular, the GOSRV has attempted, since 1981, to disband and forcibly replace the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), a legitimate Buddhist Congregation representing the spiritual life of 80% of the Vietnamese population, with the State-controlled Vietnamese Buddhist Church (VBC) because the UBCV refuses to serve as a puppet organisation of the GOSRV for political purposes. Religious leaders are targets of political control, ill-treated, imprisoned or under house-arrest. Among them are Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, Patriarch of the UBCV. Most Venerable Thich Quang Do; Venerables Thich Tri Sieu, Thich Tue Si, Thich Tri Tuu, Thich Hai Tinh, Thich Hai Tang, Thich Khong Tanh. Recently, Assistant Archbishop Nguyen Van Thuan has not been allowed to return to Vietnam after his overseas tour. Other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience include Dr Nguyen Dan Que, a member of Amnesty International; Dr Doan Viet Hoat, a former Assistant Vice-Chancellor of the Van Hanh University.

Such treatments represent a systematic violation of international standard of human rights solemnly recognised in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and in the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Your petitioners respectfully request the Senate to

1.Urge the GOSRV to take action to facilitate the release of all religious leaders, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, in particular those mentioned above.

2.Urge the GOSRV to allow religions including the UBCV to independently practise and organise their religious and related affairs in Vietnam.

3.Call on the Australian government to press the GOSRV to ensure the respect of human rights and civil rights in Vietnam, and to take these factors into account in its consideration of the provision of economic assistance.