Civil Society Meets on Freedom of Assembly & Association in Vietnam

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(VNRN) – Showing a firm determination to have an independent civil society in Vietnam, representatives from more than a dozen community and religious groups met June 5 at a Ho Chi Minh City temple belonging to a banned Buddhist church to discuss the right to freedom of assembly and of association.

The meeting, by itself, asserts that the right to assemble is a human right not dependent on any governmental permission. It took place despite a 2005 Decision 38 signed by the Prime Minister banning all unauthorized gathering “of a large number of people.” The Ministry of Police has sent out an official interpretation that says 5 people is a large number.

Pham Chi Dung, a former journalist who was once imprisoned for 6 months for his writing, noted that this very gathering, though still under the watchful eye of security police, was a sign that independent civil society can unify and begin to form.

Buddhist monk Ven. Thich Thien Minh called for the creation of an independent labor union that can protect workers and prevent violent rioting against foreign-owned companies. Read more here.