Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Vietnamese community spokesperson says Vietnam is still involved in the routine abuse of human rights

RICHARD PALFREYMAN: The Vietnamese community in Australia says the Prime Minister of their former homeland should not be allowed to visit this country. Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet is due to arrive in Australia next week for meetings with senior trade and government officials. President of the local Vietnamese community, Mr Kwong Vo, who came to Australia in 1983 after being in prison for seven years, says the Vietnamese Government is still involved in the routine abuse of human rights. Sarah Armstrong asked Mr Kwong Vo to substantiate this allegation.

KWONG VO: We have information provided to us by relatives of people inside Vietnam, from temple, from the church, that Vietnamese authority arrested many religious leaders, writers, intellectuals, dissidents; for instance, Professor Doan Viet Hoat in prison for 20 years; Dr Nguyen Dan Que in prison for 20 years, but they had been doing nothing, except they just circulate some information regarding about the collapse of communists regime in Eastern Bloc country as well as in Russia.

SARAH ARMSTRONG: Haven't there been some improvements, though, in human rights in Vietnam in recent years? I mean, haven't some political prisoners been released?

KWONG VO: Many political prisoners released, but they're in prison for 18 years since the collapse of South Vietnam. But they now keep going on, arrested many others, and re-arrested many political prisoners as well as prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.

SARAH ARMSTRONG: So are you planning to protest during the visit of the Vietnamese Prime Minister?

KWONG VO: Yes, we will set up a mock re-education camp in front of Canberra Parliament House, and we will organise a rush demonstration on 27 May to protest Vo Van Kiet visit Australia.

SARAH ARMSTRONG: Isn't it in the interest of the Vietnamese people for the Vietnamese Government to visit countries such as Australia and to establish cordial international relations to help open up its economy and create better conditions in Vietnam?

KWONG VO: I would like the Australian people and the Australian Government to think about the Vietnam situation, about the human rights in Vietnam. So any trade or any relationship should be including human rights issue, rather than just turning a blind eye to that issue.

SARAH ARMSTRONG: But do you welcome the fact that there are trade links developing between Australia and Vietnam?

KWONG VO: No, we don't welcome the Australian Government to have any relationship or trading to the Vietnamese authority.

SARAH ARMSTRONG: But isn't setting up this kind of relationship going to help the Vietnamese economy?

KWONG VO: Yes, but, you know, if just the economy itself, it doesn't help Vietnamese people. I think that's something else; it's human rights democracy to help Vietnamese people to live and how to exercise their rights in Vietnam.

RICHARD PALFREYMAN: Mr Kwong Vo from the Sydney Vietnamese Community.