Statement of Doan Viet Hoat
On the 50th Anniversary of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Fifty years ago, the first member states of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This historic document established a set of universal standards and values as the foundation for a humanist world. Since then our society has fundamentally and rapidly changed into one witnessing three outstanding trends: globalization, humanization, and democratization. These three trends have emerged as natural reactions against dehumanizing and anti-humanistic effects throughout mankind's technological progress as well as practical applications of theoretically sophisticated discoveries in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. The development of these trends, in addition to other achievements, has disintegrated all international centers of pseudo power from fascism to international communism to monopolistic capitalism. Thanks to these developments, the standards of human rights and civil rights, as adopted 50 years ago in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has become a reality in many developed nations. They have also impacted positively on the development of other countries as well as on the conduct of international relations.

While most countries in the world have become developing or developed, Vietnam still stagnates in poverty and backwardness. Our country is lagging behind by half a century as compared with developed nations, and 20 to 30 years when compared with its neighboring countries. The energy and potential of the Vietnamese people, especially of the youth, has been wasted decade after decade instead of being utilized to build a free, democratic and prosperous Vietnam. The pride and status that Vietnam enjoys in the region and around the world is simply not commensurate with the depth of her history and the vitality of her people. The future of our country is bleak and full of uncertainty. This is indeed the shame Of Our Country in modem times.

The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), first and foremost, is responsible for the pathetic realities of present-day Vietnam. Throughout the last 50 years under the slogan of independence, freedom and socialism and by way of various tactics, the CPV leadership has always placed its monopoly of power over our national interests, forcing three generations of young Vietnamese into a murderous civil war. After 25 years of monopolized power, the CPV has failed to build a free, democratic and prosperous Vietnam, falling far short of Vietnamese people's legitimate aspirations of happiness and well-being. The proclamation of the "Doi Moi" (renovation) policy in 1986 came as a tacit acknowledgment by the CPV of the failure of communist socialism and proletarian dictatorship. However, all the reforms that have been implemented to date are designed simply to protect CPV's monopoly and to maintain its obsolete political, social and cultural system. In the name of political stability, the CPV leadership has continued to suppress differing voices with measures ranging from isolation to imprisonment to covert killings. They have continued to violate the basic human rights and civil rights as stipulated in the very international documents to which communist Vietnam is a signatory. Running Vietnam as one-party totalitarian state, the CPV is presently the biggest barrier to building prosperity and peace in Vietnam, thus running counter to today's trends and principles of social development.

Society is both a creation of human beings and an environment for human development. On the one hand, autonomous actions are a quality of all truly human life; on the other hand, our society is inherently a pluralistic one consisting of different groups and strata. For this reason, in order for a society to be in concordance with humanist values, it must be organized in such a way as to secure both unity and stability while fostering opportunities for all social groups to grow to their full potential. Social stability can only be achieved through national consensus. All efforts to impose monopoly upon stability run the risk of countering humanity's autonomous actions and at the same time destroying the pluralistic nature of society. Unity in diversity is increasingly becoming a guiding principle for all relations, national and international. The articles of human rights and civil rights drafted in such international documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are in conformity with these principles. Whether to build peace on earth or to bring prosperity to a country, we should not run counter to these common directions.

Vietnam lacks neither natural resources nor human talents. The current world situation and its universal trends are stimulating extremely favorable opportunities for applying the newest technological innovations to accelerate the process of building a developed Vietnam. With the exception of an appropriate political regime, all needed factors are in place for these opportunities to develop positively and quickly. Around the world and, Vietnam, a communist regime has never succeeded in building a civilized and equitable society. Therefore, it is necessary that the current communist regime be abolished and replaced with an open democracy where human rights and civil rights are respected and equal opportunities are opened up for all individuals and different strata, regardless of their social backgrounds and political or ideological inclinations. An open democracy in Vietnam would allow all individuals and strata to promote their energy and talent and contribute to building a free Vietnam in the 21th century.

Democratization is not only the commanding trend of our times but a requisite for the integration of a developed Vietnam into the world community. Democratization also calls for specific steps and conditions.

By reason of the above and on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we hereby demand that the communist Vietnamese government immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners presently imprisoned or under house arrest; repeal all measures of political repression, especially Administrative Detention Decree No. 31/CP; respect freedom of the press; and stop religious persecution. We believe that these are the very first steps needed in the democratization of Vietnam.

We enthusiastically welcome all on-going efforts demanding freedom and democracy inside Vietnam. We also call upon all international human rights organizations, world media, peace-loving peoples and governments in the world to support our struggle for a free, democratic and prosperous Vietnam.

Washington, DC, December 4,1998

NOTE: Anyone who wishes to sign on this statement can do so at the rallies at San Francisco on Dec. 10, San Jose on Dec. 12, Garden Grove, Orange County on Dec. 13, or sending the endorsements to Doan Viet Hoat, phone: (703) 256-4145, (703) 567-2429; fax: (703) 256-1859, (703) 567-2449; address: P.O. Box 1122, Sringfield, VA 22151 USA; e-mail: