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Khmer Krom Monks in Hiding from Vietnamese Authorities

Reported by Radio Free Asia, 2013-05-17

Two ethnic Khmer monks have escaped into hiding after an attempt by Vietnamese government and religious authorities to strip them of their religious status following accusations of anti-state activity, sources said on Friday.

Thach Thuol and Lieu Ny—both of the Ta Set pagoda in the Vinh Chau district of Soc Trang province—evaded arrest on Thursday when hundreds of local Buddhists blocked police efforts to detain them, the two men told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

Vietnam, US Far Apart on Human Rights

HANOI, Vietnam April 19, 2013 (AP)

Vietnamese authorities seeking to stop a well-known democracy activist from meeting an American diplomat last weekend deployed an unusual weapon — a group of elderly ladies.

The women blocked the road leading to the dissident's house, preventing a U.S. Embassy vehicle from reaching the house. The vehicle was supposed to take the dissident to a downtown hotel to meet with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer, who was trying to get first-hand accounts from activists and the families of those imprisoned inside the one-party, authoritarian country.

EU Parliament Debates Human Rights In Vietnam, Kazakhstan And Guantanamo

Published on April 18, 2013 Eurasia Review

The European Parliament debated Thursday three separate resolutions calling for measures to enhance freedom of expression in Vietnam and to protect human rights in Kazakhstan and expressing concerns about the situation of hunger striking prisoners in Guantanamo.

The first two resolutions were adopted and the vote on the third measure related to Guantanamo was postponed.

US: Vietnam backsliding on human rights

By By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press
March 21,2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration expressed concern Thursday about Vietnam's "backsliding" on human rights and asserted that advancing individual freedoms is key to U.S. policy in Asia.

One example cited is Hanoi's treatment of bloggers who have faced prosecution under national security laws. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer told a congressional panel that Vietnam's authoritarian government is rightly proud of expanding Internet use, but it has diminished the value by curbing free exchange of ideas. Baer described those national security laws as draconian.

U.S. senators urged the administration to emphasize the promotion of human rights and democracy as part of its strategic pivot to Asia, which has primarily been cast as an attempt to increase America's military presence and boost trade in response to China's rise.

Human rights activists push U.N. for action over Vietnam’s treatment of cyber-protesters

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, March 8, 2013

Campaigners urged the UN Human Rights Council Friday to take Vietnam to task over its jailing of dozens of cyber-dissidents, claiming Hanoi was in breach of international law.

“We call upon the Council to press Vietnam to put an end to this repression,” said Vo Van Ai, speaking on behalf of Vietnamese campaigners and the International Federation of Human Rights.

In a speech to the UN body — which is halfway through a monthlong session addressing a raft of global rights concerns — he said a total of 32 bloggers and other cyber-dissidents were behind bars in Vietnam, either sentenced or awaiting trial.

Khmer Krom Living on the Edge of the Rising Sea

With half of their land now swallowed up by the ocean, some poor families are trying their best to survive against the continuing seawater intrusion in Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta, but their struggle is far from over.

KIEN GIANG, The Mekong Delta—Along a muddy and windswept beach in a remote seaside village in the south-western province of the Mekong Delta, a one-lane dirt road divides the green arable land on one side and a beach-front on the other. It seems like any other road, but for villagers here, this is simply a much-needed lifeline, a buffer that prevents the rising seawater from swamping their homes.

Those who live behind the dyke, built by the Vietnamese government, have seen their rice fields and houses rescued from saltwater intrusion. Not so fortunate, are the families whose houses and lands are sandwiched between the wall and the sea.

Reflection on the statement of Vietnam at the 22nd meeting of UNHRC

Last year, Vietnam was elected to be a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the term of 2014-2016. On February 25, 2013, Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, delivered a statement that was very impressive to the listeners who do not know about the human rights violations in Vietnam.

Mr. Pham Binh Minh said that "Viet Nam was a party to most human rights international treaties". It is true that Vietnam signed most of the human rights international treaties, even more than the United States, but Vietnamese government does not even allow the people in Vietnam to enjoy the fundamental freedom, such as: Freedom of Press or Freedom of Association.

British PM regrets "deeply shameful" colonial Indian massacre

By Andrew Osborn | Reuters – Wed, 20 Feb, 2013

AMRITSAR, India (Reuters) - David Cameron on Wednesday became the first serving British prime minister to voice regret about one of the bloodiest episodes in colonial India, a massacre of unarmed civilians in the city of Amritsar in 1919.

The killings, known in India as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, were described by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian independence movement, as having shaken the foundations of the British Empire. A group of soldiers opened fire on an unarmed crowd without warning in the northern Indian city after a period of unrest, killing hundreds in cold blood.

Canada Opens New Religious Freedom Office

by Joseph Brean - The National Post | Feb 19, 2013 7:05 PM ET

MAPLE, ONTARIO — Andrew P. W. Bennett, Canada’s first ambassador of religious freedom, is a Christian academic studying toward a theology degree in Ottawa, an expert on Scottish devolution, and a government policy analyst with experience in the Privy Council, Export Development Canada and Natural Resources Canada.

With four staff and a $5-million annual budget, his new role is to promote freedom of religion, belief and conscience around the world by ensuring it is reflected in Canada’s foreign policy.

UN Refugee Cambodia Office Downsizes

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer

PHNOM PENH - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has reduced staffing in its Phnom Penh office in favor of support for the Cambodian office tasked with aiding refugees, a UN spokeswoman says.

"We have downsized because of the overall financial situation, but we still have about two staff members in this office," the UNHCR spokeswoman, Vivian Tan, told VOA Khmer. "We’re downsizing, not closing." The office is also "re-organizing how we support the Cambodian authorities in order to better complement government arrangements through the Cambodian Refugee Office," she said.

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