Statement of the VNWHR Organization Regarding its Rationale for Supporting for Peaceful Protests
by VNWHR | May 9, 2014
Translation by [rollinglinks]Chấn Minh[/rollinglinks]
[themify_box style=”blue info rounded” ]Human rights are fundamental, universal and unalienable. They are extensively recognized and protected by numerous international laws and conventions. They are also required in all aspects of human life if a democratic and civil society is to spring forth and flourish. As a civil society organization dedicated to monitoring and protecting human rights, the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights organization wishes to clarify its position regarding recent calls by numerous Vietnamese civil society organizations to carry out demonstrations to protest the violation of Vietnamese territorial waters by China.[/themify_box]
The UN resolution on “The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests” acknowledges the evident fact that “peaceful protests can occur in all societies, including protests that are spontaneous, simultaneous, unauthorized or restricted.”
Such anacknowledgement clearly takes precedence over the claim made by the Government of Vietnam (GVN) that it has the right to suppress protests simply because they are “unauthorized.” According to the UN, all attempts to suppress a peaceful protest must be considered by the international community as arbitrary, regardless of whether these protests are authorized or not. To put it simply, if a protest is peaceful, if the government still wishes to consider itself as a government that respects human rights, it simply can’t suppress the protest.
The same UN Resolution also stresses that “everyone must be able to express their grievances or aspirations in a peaceful manner, including through public protests without fear of reprisals or of being intimidated, harassed, injured, sexually assaulted, beaten, arbitrarily arrested and detained, tortured, killed or subjected to enforced disappearance.”
Thus, the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights organization asserts:participation in a protest is not only a right protected by international laws butalso an opportunity to “make a positive contribution to the development, strengthening and effectiveness of democratic systems, and to democratic processes” and that “peaceful protest should not be viewed as a threat.”
When China blatantly deploys its military forces to invade the Economic Exclusion Zone of Vietnam, peaceful protests by the people of Vietnam will help the GVN have a better understanding ofthe wishes of the people. With such an understanding, the GVN will be able to adjust its actions accordingly and earn the right to manage the country.
The UN resolution cited earlier also pre-empts actions taken by a dictatorial regimeto accuse that peaceful protests are actually “violent” when isolated acts of violence occurred. Such sophistry from the part of a government could motivate it to plant security agents in a protest to foment violence. This way, the government can then falsely characterize the protest as a “violent” one.
Specifically, the above UN resolution recalls “that acts of sporadic violence committed by others in the course of a protest do not deprive peaceful individuals of their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association.” What this means is the following. The government can’t detain, torture, or interrogate you as a participant in a protest because during the protest there is a group of individuals who use force or violence and that, furthermore, you are only responsible for your own actions. Any and all false accusations are to be considered as blatant human rights violations by the government.
We all know that women are easily hurt when participating in sensitive activities such as protests against a foreign invader or against an ineffective government action. As women arephysically and psychologicallydifferent from men, they are the ones who will need special attention from public opinion.In this context, it helps to recall that the UN Human Rights Commission has urged “all countries to pay special attention to the safety and protection of women, and to protect female human rights activists from threats, harassment, and sexual violence including sexual attacks.”
As women are the central focus of our activities, the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights organization pays special attention to and applauds the above position of the UN for its sensitivity toward and appreciation of the role of women in all societies, and the more so whenall human rights related values are absent, as they are in Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese Women for Human Rights organization pledges to follow closely the upcoming protests and to raise its voice to protect all oppressed individuals and especially the women among them.
We urge the GVN to balance its desire and ability to use massive force to suppressprotests against its status and standing as a member of the UN Commission of Human Rights. Should the GVN fail to do so, it would have violated the universal human rights principle that “force shall not be used for the singlepurpose of breaking up a protest.” Such a principle, as we all know, is universally recognized and is being upheld by the entire democratic world.
As we see it, peaceful protests are inherently human rights activities. As such, they are governed by international laws, regulations and conventions on human rights. Therefore, as women dedicated to protecting human rights in Vietnam, we support any and all protests regardless of their objectives and contents and as long as they are carried out peacefully.
The Executive Committee of Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
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