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FREE DOAN VIET HOAT: POLITICAL PRISONERS IN VIETNAM (Senate - April 02, 1993)


CONCERNS

Asia Watch is concerned that Doan Viet Hoat and his associates have been detained simply for the peaceful expression of their views. Their prolonged detention violates not only domestic but also international norms of procedural and substantive justice which Vietnam has pledged to uphold, as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Asia Watch therefore calls on the government of Vietnam to release Doan Viet Hoat and others implicated in the Freedom Forum affair. If the government has evidence that these individuals have committed criminal acts, it should promptly charge them and bring them to trial before a tribunal which meets international standards of fairness, and the trial should be open to international observers.

APPENDIX I: THE CASE AGAINST DOAN VIET HOAT IN THE OFFICIAL PRESS

`Smash the Dark Schemes of Reactionary Forces at their Inception'

[Excerpt from article published May 6, 1992, in Saigon Giai Phong, p. 2.]

II. The `Freedom Forum' Case

From July to October 1990 in the urban areas, a reactionary document in the form of a newsletter called Freedom Forum [Dien Dan Tu Do] was surreptitiously circulated among a number of bad elements in Ho Chi Minh City. This was an extremely reactionary document containing articles written in the country and some translations of articles published in foreign papers (by overseas Vietnamese). These articles aimed at distorting the methods and policies of our party and our government, attacking socialism, denying our people's achievements, and calling and agitating for the abolition of the Communist Party and the overthrow of the people's government.

The Freedom Forum `newsletter' was essentially a document used by a reactionary group as a most important means of rallying forces to oppose and sabotage our country. This reactionary group was led by Doan Viet Hoat. Hoat was formerly head of the Modern Language Department of Van Hanh University. From 1968 to 1971 he went to the United States for study, and became Vice-President of the University upon his return. In early 1989, when the situation in socialist Eastern Europe became increasingly complex, Hoat and his gang--including Pham Duc Kham, Bui The Dung, and Le The Hien, all of whom once served in the former Saigon administration--thought that their opportunity had finally arrived because `the communist party will have to accept political pluralism as the Eastern European countries did.' Doan Viet Hoat's group feverishly pressed forward with establishing a political organization to operate in secret. The most important political ploy they chose was the argument for `democracy.' Therefore, they lost no time in drafting an `appeal to all the people to struggle for democracy in Vietnam' which fully and clearly exposed their sinister intention and dark and crazy ambition in four programs of action. These were to disseminate propaganda about the adverse political developments in Eastern Europe, to exploit Vietnam's economic difficulties, to take advantage of the so-called internal conflicts, and to design ways to rally the masses to struggle in the manner of `peaceful evolution.' At the same time, they planned three stages of action. The first stage would be building up their forces, publishing a newsletter, making declarations, secretly recruiting bad elements and inciting the people. The second stage would consist of recruiting more people, expanding misleading propaganda, creating a `political opposition movement' to first demand better living conditions, democracy, freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and then demand political pluralism and a multiparty system, and eventually to set up openly an opposition party which would openly oppose the revolution through the newsletter Freedom Forum. The third stage would involve continuing to use Freedom Forum as a vehicle for criticism and attack, leading to the demand of the abolition of the communist party, the government, socialism, as well as the dissolution of the National Assembly. At the same time, demagogic activities would be intensified to mislead the people in order to increase the prestige of Hoat's group, creating the right conditions for them to run for elections for a new `parliament' and seize power. Between July and October 1990, Hoat published the first issues of Freedom Forum and, at the same time together with [Pham Duc] Kham, [Bui The] Dung, and [Le The] Hien, Hoat sought out a number of people who had once served in the former Saigon puppet army and administration. Eventually, they admitted seven more persons into their group. They were Nguyen Van Thuan, Hoang Cao Nha, Nguyen Xuan Dong, Le Duc Vuong, Pham Thai Thuy, Nguyen Thieu Hung and Nguyen Mau.

In order to increase their numbers and appeal to the outside world, Hoat and his gang sought alliances with reactionary elements living in exile overseas. In July 1990, when Nguyen Mau went to Canada to visit his wife, Hoat assigned him the task of contacting Nguyen Dinh Thiep, Nguyen Ngoc Huy, Nguyen Truong Ba, Vo Van Ky, and Phan Nhu Toan, who are members of the Vietnam Kuomintang (in the United States), 8

and Bui Duc My and Nguyen Van Tiet (in Canada). During this trip, Nguyen Mau tried to establish contacts and introduce the activities and organization of Hoat's group in Vietnam. He also tried to draw public attention in the United States and other countries to this organization, hoping to increase its backing and support overseas, especially for the future when there would be opportunities for development. Mau had the United States-based magazine The People of October [Ngoi Dan Thang Muoi] publish an article called `A Forward by the Editorial Staff of Freedom Forum'. Mau also carried out a special mission: He wrote a petition and asked Pham Duc Trung Kien, a nephew of Pham Duc Kham, to relay it to President Bush, 9

urging him to continue the trade embargo against Vietnam, thereby creating favorable conditions for Hoat's reactionary group to intensify its opposition to and sabotage of the country. On another front, Nguyen Mau also worked hard to study anti-communist activities by reactionary exiles, especially in the United States, so he could report back to Hoat and his accomplices to help them in their planning.

8 Nguyen Truong Ba and other members of the Vietnam Kuomintang Party (Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang) named have denied having any contact with Nguyen Mau.

9 Pham Kien has denied having any contact with Nguyen Mau.

The entire plot of this reactionary group led by Doan Viet Hoat was uncovered at an early date and smashed right in November 1990. Hoat and his accomplices were arrested and are being prosecuted before the law for the crime of `carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people's power.'


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